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Visual Literacy

This guide provides information and resources related to visual literacy, including articles, books, images, and more.

Getting Started

This research guide provides information and resources, including print books and ebooks, article databases, images, streaming media, and digital resources, related to visual literacy.

Start by exploring resources in:

Then, expand your search by:

  • using the tailored resource lists in each section of the menu on the left-hand side of this guide
  • viewing the list of additional art guides in the Related Guides section at the bottom of this page (on focused topics in art and critical and curatorial studies)

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

Phone: 604-827-3549