Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Digital Literacy Takes Center Stage

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Digital Literacy Takes Center Stage

Article excerpt

Abstract

The 2010 release of the National Broadband Plan brought national attention to digital literacy as a keystone for civic engagement, educational success, and economic growth and innovation. This chapter of The Transforming Public Library Technology Infrastructure examines the need for libraries to position themselves as digital literacy experts, support staff competencies to maintain the level of expertise required in the digital landscape, and explore opportunities to expand digital literacy initiatives.

**********

From their inception, libraries of all kinds have had the development, promotion, and advancement of literacy at the core of their mission. Dramatic shifts in how information is disseminated and communications are enabled via the Internet demand an expanded vision of literacy to ensure all people in the United States, regardless of age, native language, or income, are able to fully participate in the digital age. Libraries, at the root of providing people with access to information in all formats--print, digital, multimedia--must re-evaluate and expand their roles in light of the accelerating trend of digital information. They should be a significant player in the evolving information ecosystem.

An Emerging Issue

The March 2010 release of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) (1) brought national attention to digital literacy as an essential element in ensuring all people in the United States can benefit from opportunities afforded by broadband access.

While conceding "there is no standard definition" of the term, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues

   ... digital literacy generally refers to a variety
   of skills associated with using ICT (information
   and communication technologies) to find,
   evaluate, create and communicate information.
   It is the sum of the technical skills and cognitive
   skills people employ to use computers to
   retrieve information, interpret what they find
   and judge the quality of that information. It
   also includes the ability to communicate and
   collaborate using the Internet--through blogs,
   self-published documents and presentations and
   collaborative social networking platforms. (2)

This definition effectively encompasses the information literacy skills historically defined by libraries, (3) as well as much of the more broadly expressed standards for the twenty-first century learner. (4)

According to the NBP, about one-third of the population does not have a broadband Internet connection at home. Digital literacy-related issues were identified as key barriers to adoption, in addition to access and cost. (5) Goal three (of six) in the plan addresses this concern directly: "Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose" (6) (emphasis added). The plan supports an American Library Association (ALA) principle that physical access to the Internet does not guarantee an individual will be able to access and use online resources. To promote digital literacy skills, the NBP states, "We need to ensure every American has access to relevant, age-appropriate digital literacy education for flee, in whatever language they speak, and we need to create a Digital Literacy Corps." (7)

There is now broad recognition that digital literacy is a keystone for civic engagement, educational success, and economic growth and innovation, This is evidenced at the FCC, at the Department of Commerce through numerous federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) awards, by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in its recent study Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age, (8) and in individual states such as California's Information and Communication Technology Leadership Council Action Plan Report, Digital Literacy Pathways in California, (9) and the New York Library Association's Information Literacy Standards for the Digital Learners of New York. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.