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Visual Literacy

This guide will help you find information related to visual literacy, including articles, books, images, and more.

What is visual literacy?

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. 

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

Source: ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education


There are many ways of looking at visual literacy. The Visual Literacy Array below provides a map of the ACRL’s Visual Literacy Standards:

Source: ACRL Keeping Up With...Visual Literacy

Library Research Help

Need additional help? Please do not hesitate to contact me.

Art Librarian Sara Ellis

Sara Ellis
Art & Visual Literacy Librarian
Music, Art & Architecture Library
Room 414, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
1961 East Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

Email: sara.ellis@ubc.ca
Phone: 604-827-3549