On Being a Librarian

Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives


This blog is a place to contribute to a discussion on literacy, focusing on transliteracy competencies and proficiencies for the 21 century librarian in the context of both present literacy competencies and proficiencies and those imagined for our future.

Library literature is teeming with robust arguments regarding transliteracy as having similar qualities as information literacy or  fluency.  In my view these are two distinct concepts and ideas.  I perceive information literacy or fluency as the academic aspects of formal, structured, and classical instruction focusing on the mechanics of literacy, where to place the period in citation or what part to italicize, the specifics of an evaluation tool, or the itinerate process for research strategies.  I think that by using the term transliteracy we cognitively change how we approach literacy and enable ourselves and others to explore the possibilities of communication, collaboration, creation, organization, collection, and publication through many digital and media forms.

Transliteracy is terminology gaining currency and momentum in the library world.  It is not new.  It is a term encompassing and transcending many entrenched and contemporary concepts. However, other terms are gaining notice within the library environment. Metaliteracy is one term framed similarly to transliteracy challenging skills-based approaches “by recognizing related literacy types and incorporating emerging technologies (Mackey and Jacobson, 2011).” In my view, metaliteracy can be applicable in some instances yet might be too constraining in depth and scope. The term transliteracy offers a broader analysis of reading, writing and interacting across a range of platforms, tools, media and cultures. Transliteracy does not replace other literacy, but rather incorporates, media literacy, digital literacy, mobile literacy, visual literacy, and social literacy (Thomas, et al).

The term transliteracy refers to the connects between the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from text, signing and orality through handwriting, print, television, streaming video, computer programs and software, mash-ups, radio and film, to digital, mobile , and social networks. Transliteracy is a cognitive function, the ability to construct mental models of how information is presented and behaves. (Thomas, et al).

The skills needed to be an active and responsible participant in today’s society are evolving at a pace we cannot quantify or numerate. The idea that literacy transcends, converges, and merges mediums and formats and that the 21st century learner translates and transfers competencies and proficiencies across various literacy frameworks has altered drastically the profession of librarianship (Mackey and Jacobson, 2011). Librarians know that literacy frameworks and concepts change; we need a broader and different scope of competencies than the ability to read and write, evaluate sources, efficiently use databases, and accurately citing sources. Librarians must develop competencies in social media, social network, and social software, digital & media, visual, cyber, mobile literacy, and many more.


Licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 Licence. ©2011 Julie Anne Kent – Some Rights Reserved

One comment on “About

  1. Kathy Richins

    I so agree that librarians must develop competencies in social media, social network etc. and hope that you are able to assist me in learning more about this area as well to enhance my reach in my new Find Strength in Action Life Coaching business. Thanks in advance for your help. Kind regards, Kathy

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