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Visual Literacy

This guide is an introduction to visual literacy.

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visual literacy banner with public domain images [library of congress, library poster, woman in black and white, old board game]

What is Visual Literacy?

Visual literacy is the ability to read and understand visual content, including art and advertisements. It is not only about the ability to read and understand what and how images communicate, but also about the ability to find and use visual content in thoughtful, ethical, and creative ways. Visual literacy involves seeing and thinking, using the eyes and the mind. Watch the video below to learn more about visual literacy. 

Art Terms

ACRL Visual Literacy Standards

What does it mean to be visually literate? Take a look below at the ACRL Standards for Visual Literacy. What do you notice? Are there any areas where you are especially skilled? Are there any areas where you need to learn more?


Visual Literacy Array based on ACRL's Visual Literacy Standards


Hattwig, Denise, et al. "Visual Literacy Array based on ACRL’s Visual Literacy Standards." Portal : Libraries and the Academy, vol. 13, no. 1, 2013, pp. 75. ProQuest,, doi: