New Report from ALA Task Force Highlights Role of Libraries in Digital Literacy

 

ALA's Digital Literacy Task Force issued a report on January 24, 2013 with an overview of current initiatives promoting digital literacy skills. The report, Digital Literacy, Libraries, and Public Policy, notes that access to technology is but one step in ensuring participation in a society that is moving rapidly toward a more technical way of life. In fact, a broader skill set is required of its citizens if "the United States is to compete economically, educationally, and intellectually in the global environment."

The Digital Literacy Task Force emphasizes in its definition for “digital literacy” the ability of the individual to find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information. While these facets are specific to the technical, “it cannot be overstated that digital literacy must include mastery of traditional literacy.”

Libraries must operate at the forefront of the mission to provide educational opportunities in digital technology for patrons of all ages. Indeed, as Renee Hobbs noted in her keynote at METRO’s Annual Conference, maintaining fluency within an ever-changing online world is a lifelong endeavor. Initiatives to enhance fluency in current and emerging technologies have already been fostered in school, public, and academic library spheres; a forthcoming document from the Digital Literacy Task Force will feature recommendations for ongoing work in these areas.

Policy areas covered in this report include measures related to closing the digital divide, fostering educational partnerships among intersested parties, and increasing productivity and engagement in the workforce. Challenges to libraries in pursuit of addressing digital literacy are discussed as well.

Under the umbrella of ALA's Office of Information Technology Policy, the Digital Literacy Task Force was created in Spring 2011 and consists of librarians from the school, public, and academic spheres. The group was commissioned to “address opportunities and challenges related to digital literacy and associated national policy conversations.”

For more information on ongoing initiatives related to digital literacy, please visit digitalliteracy.gov. Additional coverage of Digital Literacy, Libraries and Public Policy can be found on ALA’s Direct Dispatch.