Magazine article American Libraries

Newsmaker: Henry Jenkins

Magazine article American Libraries

Newsmaker: Henry Jenkins

Article excerpt

Henry Jenkins, director of the Comparative Media Studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, may be the first MIT faculty member to have a Nintendo Wii avatar, known as a mii, created in his honor--impressive street cred for a scholar of popular culture. Slated as the keynoter for the ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium in Chicago July 22-24, he is principal author of the 2006 MacArthur Foundation white paper Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. His 2006 book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York University Press) won the Society for Cinema and Media Studies' Katherine Singer Kovacs Book Award for 2007.


American Libraries: Where do you rank traditional information literacy among the proficiencies millennials need?

HENRY JENKINS: Young people absolutely need to acquire very traditional research skills that will allow them to discern the quality of information they are acquiring from various sources. But in a world where it is often difficult to determine the source and status of the media we are consuming, traditional literacy and research skills are no longer sufficient. We should no longer consider young people to be media literate if they can consume but not produce media. It's like confusing penmanship with composition.

You've said social skills are integral to new media literacy. How can libraries help kids develop these competencies while allaying the fear of predators that motivated the Deleting Online Predators Act?

Preventing libraries from dealing with social networking sites is the worst possible course of action. Instead, let's make sure that our librarians and teachers have an informed perspective about what's going on in the online world, that they know how to balance the risks and benefits of using social networking that most adults now use to go about their work lives. For many young people, the librarian may become the only adult they can talk with who has a clue what goes on in their digital lives and who can provide them with advice about the ethical and safety issues they confront as they go into those spaces. …

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