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What if the ideal tools for teaching undergraduate students the most critical information literacy concepts have been sitting in the stacks all along collecting dust, or wading out in digital space unencountered? Reference sources are an optimal medium to introduce all six of the ACRL Framework’s central concepts for information literacy. Additionally, by understanding a reference source’s place in the information search process, students learn to consciously avoid the common pitfall of neglecting exploratory research before specifying their research topics. Thus, incorporating reference sources thoughtfully into instructional design contributes to the development of both information literacy and metacognition.