Reading, Writing, and Info Tech
by Dick Kaser
Libraries, by long-standing definition, are havens for the literate. By long-standing tradition, they are also places where successive generations learn not only how to read, but how to conduct research and write things of their own. It’s no wonder, then, as technology brings us new means of finding information and new media for expressing our ideas, that libraries have become bastions for those needing access to IT and help using it.
Our concept of literacy, once so easily defined in terms of knowing how to use books and other hard media objects, now needs to include knowledge of electronic devices, protocols, and digital platforms. Libraries are doing so much in the area of teaching and demonstrating techno-literacy skills that we’ve been running articles about literacy in almost every issue of CIL this year. This month, a majority of the articles are related to it.
From Caris O’Malley’s description of an open source software package that makes summer reading programs even more engaging, to Jessamyn West’s column on teaching fact verification skills, you’ll find a great deal to stimulate your thoughts on how to extend the impact of your literacy initiatives. But even with Forrest Foster’s cover story, which convincingly argues that we should extend the definition of literacy instruction to hip-hop music sampling, I fear we have only just brushed the surface of all the ways that librarians can advance literacy in this era of user engagement with techno devices. Consider what our authors and columnists have had to say so far as just a start.
And BTW, tweet this: I highly recommend Ben Johnson’s eloquent essay about the implications of ads in ebooks, starting on page 10. Trust me, it will make you stop and think.
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor