Monday, June 27, 2016

Literacy, Information Literacy, New Multiliteracy and Public Libraries: IL assessment #2ndEURMIL

I'm at The Second European Media and Information Literacy Forum in Riga. I wrote something on the opening plenary, but I was part of that session, so I will tidy up that report and post it a bit later. I'm now in a session on Media and Information Literascy and libraries. The first speakers was Leena Toivonen, Director in Valkeakoski City Library; Member of EGCIS Expert group, EBLIDA (European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations) talked on Literacy, Information Literacy, New Multiliteracy and Public Libraries. She started by talking about EBLIDA, which is an organisation which represents library interests at the European level (e.g. lobbying concerning copyright issues). Turning to the Finnish scene, she reported on a survey of libraries (2012) which revealed that media literacy was valued, however half of the libraries did not have an action plan for media education and about 30% worked with schools. Barriers included lack of knowledge of media education. She referred to the Good Media Literacy Finnish national policy guidelines (2013-16), with aims to improve media education and training of those who support media education.
Toivonen gave a specific example of her City Library. She identified changes in basic education that came in with the new Finnish school curriculum in 2016: this puts stress on multiliteracies. They cooperate with local schools at various levels. Examples of activities include games for pre-schoolers. The games do not use text, so they are suitable for the pupils who can't read. There is also, for example, an encoding club and another initiative "games coding and 3D", which are out-of-school activities. Toivonen stressed how they are working with various external partners. There are numerous challenges, such as material in English, the fact that information is often in images or videos, that people are self-publishing: there was a need to to improve the librarians' own skills.

The second speaker was Baiba Holma, Associate professor, Department of Information and Library Studies Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Latvia who talked about Librarians' roles in MIL. She started by talking about an interesting initiative in assessing IL in Latvia: she referred to research which I blogged about here From the various tests and assessments, they identified that it was possible to assess IL level; also they identified the IL level of citizens (only average); and that there were needs for education and training. In particular there were gaps in knowledge around creating information (including things like sending emails.
They also have a project on digital literacy and the librarian as mediator: it requires social support and knowledge about rules and restrictions in internet use. Thus there are problems (focus on too-narrow range of IL skills; difficulty in assessing IL) but also opportunities (appropriate education of librarians and new creative services from libraries to broaden skills for lifelong learning).
Photo by Sheila Webber: Art Nouveau house, curtain, Riga, June 2016

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