ALA Task Force releases recommendations to advance digital literacy

Today, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Digital Literacy Task Force (which is led by the Office for Information Technology Policy) releases its recommendations (pdf) to advance and sustain library engagement in digital literacy initiatives nationwide. These recommendations build on the January 2013 Task Force report Digital Literacy, Libraries, and Public Policy and constitute a call to action on the part of the ALA, library education programs, front-line librarians, various funding bodies, and the diverse stakeholders who use and support library services.

Libraries of all types — school, academic, and public — play a vital role in ensuring all people have the skills and abilities to succeed in the Digital Age. These conclusions and recommendations culminate the Task Force’s work over 18 months and include comments from several public programs held at ALA conferences, as well as two online virtual public programs and task force meetings that included observers from different stakeholder groups.

One over-arching recommendation is that ALA should continue to have a member body that focuses on digital literacy and libraries. This group should consist of members with broad ALA representation. It would provide library leadership in digital literacy initiatives across and beyond the library community and track progress against these recommendations.

“Having a member group would provide a central place for ALA units to collaborate on digital literacy projects,” said Task Force Chair, Rosanne Cordell. “A permanent group could facilitate the sharing of resources and develop advocacy that speaks with a single library voice.”

Other recommendations made focus on:

  • increasing investment in digital literacy;
  • developing and sustaining robust partnerships and collaborations;
  • strengthening and expanding research and assessment; and
  • increasing access to digital literacy programming;

Though the Task Force officially ended its work at the 2013 Midwinter Conference, digital literacy remains an important focus for librarians in all types of libraries and remains a hot topic issue on the national level among government agencies and many policy groups. ALA will continue to stay abreast of issues and work on keeping the library voice part of the conversations.

In fact, OITP and the Public Library Association invite you to join the launch of DigitalLearn.org at the ALA Annual Conference. Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), DigitalLearn.org is an online hub for digital literacy that supports several of the Task Force’s recommendations. It includes a collection of self-directed trainings for end-users to increase their skills and a community of practice for digital literacy trainers to share tools, best practices, and more. Panelists will discuss how they are planning to leverage this tool in their organization and share ways librarians can get more involved in the project. The program will take place Sunday, June 30, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the McCormick Convention Center Room N139.

About Marijke Visser

As associate director of OITP, Marijke leads and coordinates all of ALA’s work on E-rate. In addition to E-rate, Marijke supports the Program on Networks focusing on broadband adoption issues for diverse populations. Marijke also serves as Program Director for OITP’s emerging portfolio on children, youth, and technology.

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