Alison J. Harris

Librarian

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Digital Literacy in Public Libraries

The Information Policy and Access Center, an organization supported by the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, recently published a survey on digital literacy and public libraries.

It goes without saying that since 99% of public libraries today offer computer and internet access that teaching digital literacy is a vitally important to the community. The study gives an excellent overview of the state of digital literacy instruction in U.S. public libraries and its impact on the digital divide is so prevalent in America.

Without access, people cannot develop digital literacy; without digital literacy, they cannot gain maximum benefit from online resources.

A few items of this survey caught my attention. For instance, 34% of libraries offer one-on-one sessions by appointment. This is something I hope to provide very soon at my own location, especially since it is so often needed.

The study also mentions that digital literacy skills are directly connected to use of online resources. This may be obvious, but I think lending a critical eye to this balance is important to increasing use of these services. Many public libraries offer a multitude of online databases and digital resources, but consistently fail to see the high rates of use desired and marketing seems to have no effect. Perhaps those who need the services the most don’t feel comfortable using computers or have very limited skills? Public libraries must assess the needs of the community to increase digital literacy and connect customers to the plethora of information available.

I visited Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (RAILS) to look at rubrics on information and digital literacy. This website facilitates the assessment of information literacy and critical thinking skills by providing example rubrics, and training materials. My rubric assesses the success of an information sessions on downloading digital materials.

 

Indicators Beginning Developing Exemplary
Recognition of technology  Student is struggles to recognize which software is needed for device to access digital media with guided assistance Student is able to recognize which software is needed for device to access digital media little with assistance Student is able to easily recognize which software is needed for a device to access digital media
Increased information literacy Student struggles to search for eBooks and eAudiobooks in THPL’s OverDrive catalog with guided assistance Student is able to search for eBooks and eAudiobooks in THPL’s OverDrive catalog with little assistance Student is able to comfortably search for eBooks and eAudiobooks in THPL’s OverDrive catalog
Increased digital literacy Student struggles to check out and download eBooks and eAudiobooks in the correct format with guided assistance Student is able to check out and download eBooks and eAudiobooks in the correct format with little assistance Student is able to comfortably check out and download eBooks and eAudiobooks in the correct format
Use of Device Student struggles to adjust settings to change the layout of eBooks downloaded to device with guided assistance Student is able to adjust settings to change the layout of eBooks downloaded to device with little assistance Student is able to comfortably adjust settings to change the layout of eBooks downloaded to device
Increased digital download literacy Student struggles to download digital items at home with guided assistance Student is able to download digital items at home with little assistance Student is able to comfortably download digital items at home

 

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October 11, 2013 , , Comment

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