On Being a Librarian

Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives

Transliteracy Considered

Transliteracy is concerned with integrating, mapping, and evaluating informational meaning between and across different digital and print formats and media and NOT about developing literacies in various and individual digital and print formats and media. We are compelled to move library users and specifically students beyond being literate about information, critically assessing and using information appropriately. An outcome for transliteracy creates an environment where librarians and users become more capable of inquiry that generates new understanding. Transliteracy is not static; it is progressive and embraces change.

Adopting transliteracy means we strive to be proficient at sourcing, evaluating, and using information across multiple traditional and digital formats including social media platforms to meet our own and our user’s information needs. We know our library users blog, access websites on their smartphones and tablets, text message, Tweet, file and photo share, and much more with blinding frequency, flair, and ease. We might better serve our users by helping them use technologies in a manner that supports their learning, engaging them in the content of our learning session by using appropriate technology. Ideas to introduce into our professional practice include at least the consideration of shifting our mindset.  We might consider these points:

• Our users are already knowledgeable about many technologies and social networking practices,  though perhaps missing information behaviour’s subtle nuances and without regard to etiquette, privacy, and security.  We are “change agents” and no longer help users learn skills to increase literacy but show them how to efficiently and critically use the digital tools they will need to learn now to become knowledgeable.

• Stop telling students not to use Google or Wikipedia. It behooves librarians to critically assess and instruct these two ubiquitous information retrieval and dissemination tools. I would suggest that our position within an environment of  transliteracy is to provide opportunity where our users can learn how and when to use Google and Wikipedia efficiently and effectively. I recently created a Google LibGuide for Thompson Rivers University aimed to support our student’s research practices. Researching best practices for presenting Google to our students started nearly a year ago.  I found that many academic libraries offer their users information about using Google in various formats: print handouts, QR codes on various research pathfinders and handouts, on Library research help websites, by creating Libguides, conducting Google workshops, and many more.  Controversy still rumbles over the use of Wikipedia.  I have worked with subject faculty who warn their students against the use of Wikipedia threatening a failing grade on assignments.  A few of my librarian peers avoid any discussion about Wikipedia in their instructional sessions at all costs. Yet, I am happy to report that there are many who face the use of  Wikipedia respectfully, objectively, and in such a manner that students can critically evaluate its reliability for themselves.  I use Wikipedia in instruction sessions as an example of the peer review process, and I present aspects aligned with Alan Liu’s Student Wikipedia Use Policy.

• There has been a lot of buzz about the Digital Native for over a decade now. I would caution to be wary of labeling the generation we now serve as “Digital Natives”. Though they are exposed to and use tools in the digital world their ability to critically evaluate what they are using, when and why, might not be as advanced as we hope.

• Yes, we see many students and library users with cell phones and smart phones, laptops, and ebook readers. However, we still find gaps in access to technology. Not all users have these devices. Where possible the library is compelled to provide technologies to close the participation gap in access.

• The glamour of new technology tools can be alluring and, positioned as change agents, we may be driven to grab onto and use the most recent. Only when mapped to sound and proven might be best leverage technology.

• My instruction practice is founded on constructivist theories creating inquiry-driven lessons and assignments. Transliteracy, while a term embracing a new idea about literacy, can be developed when strategizing to encourage users to engage, construct, reflect, connect, and assess information and the tools they are using to access, evaluate, and create new information.

I read Barbara Stripling’s “Inquiry Model” lately and am still reflecting upon many elements of literacy she presents, the model she developed, and the possible implications and value of this position on the ideas of transliteracy. I am beginning to think that this model is really a model of transliteracy not inquiry.

Stripling’s model is based on six recursive phases: wonder, investigate, construct, express, reflect, and connect. Mapping this model to the practice of using technologies and social networks is an exercise in transliteracy.

I will work on that for another entry.

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This entry was posted on 11/28/2011 by in LibGuide, Transliteracy and tagged .
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