Looking Forward: What’s New in Year Two

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We’ve always felt that this project was fluid and would grow and shift. In preparation for year two we’ve done some minor things like updated our the “What is Transliteracy” page to “Transliteracy for Beginners” It includes a revised introduction and links to a few key articles as a starting place. We’ve also updated our Reading List if you want to dive into the in depth articles.

Along with some minor changes we’ll be making two significant changes/additions.

Guest Authors

We’ll be posting articles from guest authors. We’ll still have our set of core contributors but we’ll also publish guest posts related to transliteracy from across libraryland and hopefully from some people outside of libraryland too.

Monthly Read-Along

This suggestion has come up up several times as a way to introduce people to the concept and a way to facilitate discussions. At the beginning of each month we’ll post an article or report, all month long we’ll discussion the ideas and issues in the comments of the post.

Thank you for your support in year one. We hope you find the blog interesting and valuable as we move into year two.

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Looking Back: Our First Year in Review

It’s hard to believe but February 22nd marked our one year anniversary here at the Libraries and Transliteracy Project. Its been a long amazing year.  Being in the thick of things sometimes I didn’t realize how much we’d done until I sat down to write this post.

one year

We’ve accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time, I think a little celebration is in order!

I had no idea when I started this project with Tom Ipri and Buffy Hamilton that it would take off like it did. I’d like to say thank you to my fellow contributors and to all of our readers and supporters for an amazing first year!

Stay tuned we have some exciting things planned for Year Two!  🙂

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My Tuppence Worth

The heated online discussion with challenges and questions about the term “transliteracy” and it’s place in Library Land seems to have subsided, but I had yet to chime in with my two cents to respond to the request for definitions and desire to see results.

A Brief Background:

When I decided to go to library school, I was drawn to children’s librarianship and found that storytelling was a natural fit for me with my theatrical background. While in the MLS program at Pratt, that interest began to cross into multi-media. My professors opened my eyes to see that Stories exist through forms of media. It wasn’t something that was taught. It wasn’t something that was even discussed (that I remember). It didn’t have a name and I couldn’t identify it, but knew it excited me.

A year or so later I attended a presentation by Bobbi at Computers in Libraries on Transliteracy and it clicked for me. This was a concept that aligned with my ideas! It helps me frame discussions with patrons and staff in my everyday work.


I do agree that there are many similar qualities between the two terms Transliteracy and Information Literacy, but I don’t see them as equal. To me, the term Information Literacy is very academic, with a focus on formal instruction. My work in a public library does not include or require formal instruction. In fact, I am not sure that I know of a public library anywhere that requires continuing education for librarians. What I do know is that there are still librarians who lack basic technology skills (I recently heard a story from a colleague of visiting a library where she had to demo how to cut and paste – no joke) and my thinking is that we have to keep exploring and presenting new ways of thinking about learning and literacy in the hopes that something will click for them too.

girl reading on laptop screen

photo by Flickr user yohann.aberkane

Transliteracy allows me to include fun, art, creativity, playfulness and what brought me here to begin with…Story. The definition from transliteracy.com works just fine for me – “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media…” Sure there are other terms that are very similar like 21st Century Learning, e-literacy, and transmedia, but like Buffy J. Hamilton, I think Transliteracy is an umbrella term that allows us to explore the possibilities of communication and creation through many media forms (not necessarily just electronic) and quite frankly, I just like it!


Here is where the challenge lies. I don’t work in conducting research and formal studies with large groups. I work with a large cross-section of people, but in small groups. My task is to encourage and assist them in using modern tools to access information and entertainment as well as tools from the past.

My hope through working with this group is that I can share my own projects of exploration in my everyday work and hear stories of other libraries facing this challenge. Clearly formal educational environments provide more opportunities for exploring the concept while the absence of a classroom makes it difficult for those of us in public libraries to measure the effectiveness of an initiative. What a shame since public libraries have the potential to reach the largest audience!

So, I’m curious to know how public librarians are exploring multiple literacies at their libraries? How are you teaching transliteracy at your institution?

ACRL/IRIG Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

The ACRL Image Resources Interest Group has released a draft of their Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (pdf). These are just for images, not video, which I initially expected to be included when I saw “visual”.

Update I’ve been contacted by Denise and she let me know that “the standards are written broadly to cover “images and visual media”, including still and moving images (video) where applicable. We deliberately did not define “images and visual media” so the standards would remain open to new formats and future developments.” So they do include video.

They are encouraging comments and feedback through March 31st, 2011, on their blog or by email.  There are also have an open virtual meeting on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 11:30-1:00 PST/2:30-4:00 EST

From the standards:


The increasing dominance of images and visual media in contemporary culture is changing what itmeans to be literate in the 21st century. Today’s society is highly visual, and visual imagery is no longersupplemental to other forms of information. New digital technologies have made it possible for almostanyone to create and share visual media. Yet the pervasiveness of images and visual media does notnecessarily mean that individuals are able to critically view, use, and produce visual content. Individualsmust develop these essential skills in order to engage capably in a visually‐oriented society. Visualliteracy empowers individuals to participate fully in a visual culture.

Visual Literacy Defined:

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 thecontextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the productionand use of visual materials. A visually literate individual is both a critical consumer of visual media and acompetent contributor to a body of shared knowledge and culture.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 meaning of images and visual media
  • Critically 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

Visual Literacy and Information Literacy:

The Visual Literacy Standards were developed in the context of the Information Literacy CompetencyStandards for Higher Education, and are intended to complement the Information Literacy Standards.The Visual Literacy Standards address some of the unique issues presented by visual materials. Images often function as information, but they are also aesthetic and creative objects that require additionallevels of interpretation and analysis. Finding visual materials in text‐based environments requiresspecific types of research skills. The use, sharing, and reproduction of visual materials also raiseparticular ethical or legal considerations. The Standards address these distinct characteristics of imagesand visual media and challenge students to develop a combination of abilities related to informationliteracy, visual communication, interpretation, and technology and digital media use.

National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy

Last year the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service released the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. Over the last year we have looked at many different literacies here but healthy literacy has been a little neglected. It is something that affects the lives of all of of our patrons. From the plan:

This National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy seeks to engage organizations, professionals, policymakers, communities, individuals, and families in a linked, multisector effort to improve health literacy. The plan is based on the principles that (1) everyone has the right to health information that helps them make informed decisions and (2) health services should be delivered in ways that are understandable and beneficial to health, longevity, and quality of life. The vision informing this plan is of a society that:

  • Provides everyone with access to accurate and actionable health information
  • Delivers person-centered health information and services
  • Supports lifelong learning and skills to promote good health

Two decades of research indicate that today’s health information is presented in a way that isn’t usable by most Americans. Nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using the everyday health information that is routinely available in our health care facilities, retail outlets, media, and communities.1, 2, 3Without clear information and an understanding of prevention and self-management of conditions, people are more likely to skip necessary medical tests. They also end up in the emergency room more often, and they have a hard time managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.1

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.4 Limited health literacy affects people of all ages, races, incomes, and education levels, but the impact of limited health literacy disproportionately affects lower socioeconomic and minority groups. It affects people’s ability to search for and use health information, adopt healthy behaviors, and act on important public health alerts. Limited health literacy is also associated with worse health outcomes and higher costs.5

This report contains seven goals that will improve health literacy and suggests strategies for achieving them:

  1. Develop and disseminate health and safety information that is accurate, accessible, and actionable
  2. Promote changes in the health care system that improve health information, communication, informed decisionmaking, and access to health services
  3. Incorporate accurate, standards-based, and developmentally appropriate health and science information and curricula in child care and education through the university level
  4. Support and expand local efforts to provide adult education, English language instruction, and culturally and linguistically appropriate health information services in the community
  5. Build partnerships, develop guidance, and change policies
  6. Increase basic research and the development, implementation, and evaluation of practices and interventions to improve health literacy
  7. Increase the dissemination and use of evidence-based health literacy practices and interventions

Many of the strategies highlight actions that particular organizations or professions can take to further these goals. It will take everyone working together in a linked and coordinated manner to improve access to accurate and actionable health information and usable health services. By focusing on health literacy issues and working together, we can improve the accessibility, quality, and safety of health care; reduce costs; and improve the health and quality of life of millions of people in the United States.

You can read the full action plan or if 75 pages seems like too much the summary.

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