The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) have defined visual literacy as:
Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Visual literacy skills equip a learner to understand and analyze the contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the production and use of visual materials. A visually literate individual is both a critical consumer of visual media and a competent contributor to a body of shared knowledge and culture. (Association of College and Research Libraries)
In other words, a visually literate individual is able to not just able to find and identify images, but can use images and understand the laws and regulations that govern the use of images including copyright and citation practices. This individual is also able to use images as a language in order to communicate with others and can use images to enhance an argument, paper, or presentation. Image use by one who is visually literate is never superfluous, but is deliberate and adds value to their work.
In an interdisciplinary, higher education environment, a visually literate individual is able to:
• Determine the nature and extent of the visual materials needed
• Find and access needed images and visual media effectively and efficiently
• Interpret and analyze the meanings of images and visual media
• Evaluate images and their sources
• Use images and visual media effectively
• Design and create meaningful images and visual media
• Understand many of the ethical, legal, social, and economic issues surrounding the creation and use of images and visual media, and access and use visual materials ethically (Association of College and Research Libraries)
This guide attempts to increase visual literacy by aiding others in finding and responsibly using them in their work.
Association of College and Research Libraries. "ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education." Association
of College and Research Libraries. American Library Association.2011. Web. 28 July 2014.