March Read – Transliteracy: Crossing Divides

Welcome to our first shared read! The idea is that we all read the same article and discuss it on the blog (like a book club, but with articles). This gives us a way to work through ideas related to transliteracy and libraries together and openly.  This month’s read is Transliteracy: Crossing Divides by Sue Thomas et. al. Remember the article is not written by librarian nor are librarians the intended audience.

How do you participate? Read the article. Leave a comment. Respond to other people’s comments. That’s it! Its easy. Oh and be polite and courteous to each other. I’ll keep a link on the right sidebar for easy access. Enjoy!


Transliteracy might provide a unifying perspective on what it means to be literate in the twenty–first century. It is not a new behavior but has only been identified as a working concept since the Internet generated new ways of thinking about human communication. This article defines transliteracy as “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks” and opens the debate with examples from history, orality, philosophy, literature, and ethnography.


What is transliteracy?
Tracing transliteracy
Really new media
Writing and reading are not enough
Going across and beyond
Networking the book
Transliterate reading
Everyday life in a transliterate world
Future development and debate

5 Responses to “March Read – Transliteracy: Crossing Divides”

  1. simkathy Says:

    I thought I knew what transliteracy was until I read this article. But that is not why I am commenting. I use LibGuides with my faculty and students and I have explained my Libguides philosophy as a method of modeling transliteracy. The guides model the ability to search widely across media formats, platforms and sites – physical and virtual. This simple strategy has been well received by my teachers and my administration. They acknowledge that I have made the leap into the future and in a bold swift move I have decoupled my job from our physical collection (and from the publishing industry at large). So I am a big fan of transliteracy (even though I may not completely understand it.)

    • Bobbi Newman Says:

      Which part of the article caused the confusion?

      • simkathy Says:

        It seems that transliteracy is claiming to represent every and all forms of human communication and artifact creation. If that is true then I struggle to get my brain around that idea. Additionally it seems the divide between human communication and artifacts is less distinct. That’s as close as I can get to my confusion.

  2. gretchen caserotti Says:

    I finally got a chance to sit down and read this tonight. I’d really love to talk about this section: “in recent years we have begun to switch from searching for information in encyclopedias, indices and catalogues to querying the kinds of data collections that existed before books — that is to say, we are asking each other. Via millions of message boards and chatrooms we ask each other for advice about health problems, moral dilemmas, or what to cook for dinner. We share those answers, elaborate upon them, and, in so doing, we aggregate them so that others unknown to us can use them.”

    Making information social. It seems to me that doesn’t cut out Librarian from the equation, but it does increase the importance of Education and Librarians as Teachers – even in a public library! What do you all think. Did that passage strike anyone else?

    • Bobbi Newman Says:

      Gretchen what struct me most about the section was to me that idea that we ask people we know for information instead of an encyclopedia is presented as new. To me that is basic info seeking behavior. And you’re right it highlights the importance of teaching critical thinking and analysis!

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