The American Library Association is once again supporting Digital Learning Day as part of our continued effort to shine the light on the work libraries do every day to support digital literacy. Digital Learning Day, sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education, is the culmination of year-long activities in K12 schools, public libraries, and among educators from all walks of life. This year’s culminating event in Washington, D.C. on February 6, 2013, will celebrate educators who collaborate to create inspirational learning opportunities for young people by effectively integrating technology use and practices in and out of the classroom.
Through our ongoing work with the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) Digital Literacy Task Force we have learned about the critical role librarians play in developing resources for classroom teachers, guiding students through the difficult challenges of digital citizenship, teaching administrators and library boards about the powerful learning opportunities afforded by appropriate technology use, and supporting the continuing education of their peers. We have heard stories about the challenges librarians grapple with to provide rich experiences to their patrons (experiences that they know are possible and in many cases necessary): school librarians who struggle with the reality of filtering in the school environment that inhibits what students can access online and blocks the collaborative tools that can be used to create content and work with peers; public librarians who often juggle their responsibilities to help new computer users navigate online resources; and academic librarians who continually motivate students to take advantage of the support and research resources available through the library.
Fortunately, librarians are a tenacious bunch and we have a broad collection of success stories and examples of best practices. Just this year, OITP recognized the team at New Canaan High School in Connecticut for its integration of tools like Facebook, iPads, Twitter, and Google Apps into multi-disciplinary projects where students are encouraged to take charge of their own learning and are becoming solid digital citizens.
Many public libraries are responding to the needs of their patrons by developing a suite of options for digital literacy and skill-building support. Queens Public Library in New York offers formal computer classes using the resources created by library staff, as well as on demand and self-paced online tutorials for patrons and classes on using social media. Other libraries are bringing classes and resources into the community such as the Free Library of Philadelphia with its Hot Spots program that uses wired spots located throughout the city to offer access to computers, printers, the Internet, reference materials from the Free Library, and trained staff to provide one-on-one guidance. The library also is seeking community partners to connect with its Techmobile, the library’s 25-foot vehicle outfitted for digital literacy training and outreach.
In an effort to reach students and make them aware of the resources offered in academic libraries, academic librarians are striving to work closely with university administrations and professors to integrate information literacy skills into the student learning process. For example, at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, librarians helped to write the basic English curriculum, making sure that the standard course — which reaches 78 percent of freshmen — aligned with the Association of College and Research Libraries information literacy standards.
Now it’s your turn. What is your library doing that should be highlighted as part of recognizing the important work going on every day in all types of libraries? Help spread the word and participate in this year’s Digital Learning Day. The Digital Learning Day Website lists numerous ways you can participate but here are a few: submit your story or video that shows innovative teaching and learning; write a blog about your experiences; or plan an activity on Digital Learning Day and share a video on the website.
Give librarians the shout out they deserve.