[Maryanne] Wolf worries that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace. When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.” Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged.
—  Nicholas Carr
ninja librarianship at a glance
  • Using information from Facebook and Twitter to create intelligence
  • Working for the CIA’s Open Source Center
  • Use of “gray literature”
  • Decoding messages in media from around the world—the ability to read TV, texts, Tweets, Facebook posts, and blogs
  • Helpful during Arab Spring
  • "The most successful analysts…are something like the heroine of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," a quirky, irreverent computer hacker who ‘knows how to find stuff other people don’t know exists.’" - Doug Naquin, director OSC
  • If I brush up on my Farsi I could be looking at a job opportunity
  • (Don’t worry, it is illegal for the CIA to use any information on or about US citizens, so that’s passed on to another department.)

Interesting not-so-little graphic explaining Wikipedia to those who want the facts. Although this is a quick way to instigate discussion about Wikipedia it raised some questions in my mind:

  • Wikipedia is “redefining research.” Could Wikipedia be the subject of a formal or informal lesson on research? I mean, no one is a great researcher on their own, even with the Internet at their fingertips. It could make for a really fun library program to teach teens how to research well, maybe starting with Wikipedia. “Footnote chasing” from Wikipedia to external sources can be a great way to find solid research.
  • Are we sure that Wikipedia is eliminating encyclopedias? Maybe other encyclopedias should transition to the web, and maybe offer cheaper, or heck, free access.
  • Why is the fact that library use is decline connected to Wikipedia? (I’ve harped on this before, libraries are more than their materials. There may be other reasons people have supposedly stopped using libraries.)
  • Why is it such a problem that professors stick their noses up at the mention of Wikipedia? Not using Wikipedia is so 2005. Yeah, tell that to my English professors. It’s still not considered a legitimate source. That’s ok. 
  • How many of those students who plagiarize using Wikipedia would have done so otherwise? Pretty sure if you’re going to use information irresponsibly it won’t matter where you get it.
  • Why so many men editing Wikipedia? Ok, maybe we can work on that one.

Teens know about Wikipedia. Particularly for information literacy, but also for media literacy, it is important to address current trends in technology. Wikipedia is available, convenient, and full of information, and if libraries are invested in how teens are accessing and using knowledge, then teaching how to use Wikipedia should be prioritized. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to admit that 1) Wikipedia is helpful and 2) Wikipedia is not helpful all the time. 

Why shouldn’t libraries provide programs that help teens to navigate the scary world of Wikipedia? Not only do most libraries provide computer and Internet access, they also have other print and electronic materials that can be coupled with Wikipedia to teach good research skills. A helpful hand from a librarian—a.k.a. trained researcher—can’t hurt either.

Librarians not only provide access to physical materials, they are also trained in using the internet appropriately to extract information for users – a skill that has been at the heart of the profession for many years. This ensures that misinformation is minimized and helps to maintain a well-informed society.
—  Ian Clark, The Gaurdian

This is an adorable clip from a more recent Sesame Street episode. I remember watching the Street as a kid and being a little confused about the monsters. I knew that my friends were boys or girls, but the monsters didn’t seem to be either. However, most of the monsters seem to be boys, until recently that is. These monsters, Zoe, Rosita, and Abby, are excited to have found similar interests together as girls. 

Reading a text is probably the most important part of being media literate. Whether it is reading books, movies, or TV, the reader picks out meanings from the text, or finds meanings that are similar to their surroundings. Let’s see what meanings are in this clip:

  • Little monsters can be girls too!
  • Abby uses the term “guys” to address her female clique. The slang has become common place, not only to speak about a group of mixed gender but to convey closeness of friends.
  • Each of the girls learns to open up about her feelings of loneliness. She feels comfortable in the intimate group of girls.
  • Although they’re pretty goofy, the description of friendship the girls is genuine. If anything, friends should be the group in which you feel most able to let loose! Little boys aren’t the only ones who want to yell, jump, and act out.
  • Sesame Street makes a conscious effort to include a diversity of ethnicities—even in their monster cast members
attn: parents, educators, librarians, youth pastors...

In my last semester at Eastern I’m looking forward to whatever the future holds.  After graduation I’ll go on to a master’s in library and information sciences; but what does that mean?  Librarians know how to stamp and shelf books, and because I’m specializing in children’s and youth services I’ll deal mostly with books for a young audience.  I was told recently that a career with libraries in this electronic age is deceiving.  The majority of my job will be with a variety of media (print, electronic, auditory).

What does that mean today?  Today I’m starting an expertise project for the Mass Media and Young People course that I’m taking.  I’ve chosen the topic of “media literacy education” for my research, but the project doesn’t end with simply writing a paper.  As an expert in my research topic, I’m charged with communicating my findings to a wider audience.  (That’s where my blog comes in.)

Luckily I’ve already started a blog where I can reach an audience.  I’ve already decided to integrate one medium (print books) with another (electronic blog).  For the next roughly 2 ½ months I’ll hijack my own blog to discuss the history, arguments, and popular and academic discourse surrounding media literacy education.

(If you’re interested in the discussion that develops please look for posts with the tags “COM305,” “Y.A.,” and “children.”)


The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has learned that if they are going to connect with kids who have moved into the digital realm, then they need to create a space that is creative, but recognizable for its users. These screenshots show the Kids and Teens homepages for the CLP’s website. They incorporate elements specific to each of their age groups, while including tools to stretch how kids and teens typically use digital media.

Each site includes tools for reading and writing. Because the sites are connected to the library’s physical, print collections there is a search bar for the catalogues, as well as online reading material. In terms of writings, for kids, there is the “My Storymaker,” and for teens, the very encouraging “Tell your story!” The integration of print and digital media for reading and writing assumes that kids and teens will learn the benefits and uses for both.

Part of encouraging kids and teens to learn through digital media is catering the materials to their interests, developmental stage, etc. Developing media literacy is only possible through a combination of comfort and challenge. It seems that especially in such an interactive medium, such as these websites, kids and teens have expectations for what they’ll encounter, but they also want to be “wowed” by discovering what they can do with the sites.

literacy to literacies

Information literacy has been a field typically assigned to librarians, but information is now communicated through media—print, digital, audio, and visual. Instead of fragmenting literacy, librarians see that they are now responsible for advocating a plurality of literacy. Not only are literacies dependent on their historical, cultural, and social context, but they must also cross information and media boundaries. There are now two more recent labels for a pluralist literacy, which may be equivalent:

  1. Transliteracy
  2. Metaliteracy

Perhaps part of the seeming necessity for an even newer understanding of literacy is that the connotations of “media” and “information” have limited the previous concepts in the common discourse. Instead of fracturing conceptions of literacy, perhaps a better approach is to identify what is understood as “literacy” and all of the media through which a person can be “literate.” Maybe after we’ve understood transliteracy then we can focus on a particular medium or research topic.

This understanding of literacy implicates vital action in libraries; to develop programming for their communities that will maximize the troves of information in a variety of media that they hold.

Libraries are utterly thrilling places. At least they ought to be. They should wow the pants off people. All that free stuff. All that culture. All that poetry to woo the ladies, and knowledge to make your way in the world. What’s not to like?
—  Stewart Parsons, Get it Loud in Libraries
the daily show 3/15

(For some reason Tumblr doesn’t recognize video links from The Daily Show’s site. Apologies. PLEASE watch the whole episode.)

John Oliver’s phenomenal coverage of the cuts to UNESCO funding by the U.S.!

This is frustrating on two levels for me; first, having lived and worked with primary and secondary students at a girls’ orphanage in Kenya, and second, having spent this semester studying media literacy and education. UNESCO has been one of the most involved advocates of media literacy education that I’ve found. It’s such a shame that the U.S. would cut off funding in order to make a point (and blame their action on being bound by law). However, I’m actually encouraged that where the U.S. ignores and forsakes the world’s needs, other countries have stepped in; especially a country that may know the needs of the impoverished and needy better than the U.S. does.


Ooo. It’s art time. This song is super catchy and teaches kids all about primary and secondary colors. So now that we have the beginning of a color vocabulary let’s do something with it!

(In addition to the obvious instruction in colors, this video is an introduction to the genre of music videos.)

Clearly, reading in print and on the Internet are different. On paper, text has a predetermined beginning, middle and end, where readers focus for a sustained period on one author’s vision. On the Internet, readers skate through cyberspace at will and, in effect, compose their own beginnings, middles and ends.

Some literacy experts say that reading itself should be redefined. Interpreting videos or pictures, they say, may be as important a skill as analyzing a novel or a poem.

—  Motoko Rich

I’ve learned that the meaning of “literacy” has been adapted to include a variety of non-print media, and the term “reading” seems to have gone right along with it. Of course no one says they “read” films, but in a sense that is what happens when a viewer decodes meaning or interprets a message from a film. When the medium of the text changed, so did the act of reading.

If I kept track of my daily reading:

  • headlines on
  • emails
  • Facebook newsfeed
  • Tumblr feed
  • blog posts with #library and #literacy
  • The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict
  • Google doc presentation
  • Pottermore account

That’s today, well the 10 hours that I’ve been awake. And notice. Only one of those items is print the rest are digital. That list doesn’t even include the auditory and visual texts I’ve “read” today. 

The move of reading from print to digital has some people worried, but a lot of experts saying that reading is reading is reading. What seems to be the recurring problem, no matter where kids and teens are reading, is that not enough of them read for fun

What is a parent/teacher/librarian to do if the fun factor is missing?! I’m not a parent, teacher, or librarian (yet), but there seems to be an easy solution. Promote agency in a kid or teen’s choice of reading. I’m of the mindset that there’s bound to be something out there for everyone, and that doesn’t just mean a print book on a shelf somewhere. 

Check out Motoko Rich’s four-part series “The Future of Reading” on

  1. Online, R U Really Reading?
  2. Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers
  3. In Web Age, Library Job Gets Update
  4. Pick Books You Like

I’m steadily making my way through the website’s companion tome. Lankes’ project with The Atlas is really fascinating. It’s definitely a must read for librarians and educators alike. The key point of the first chapters is that there isn’t really anything special about libraries in themselves, except the presence of a motivated librarian. It’s what the librarian does with the materials, programs, and space that matters.

"The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities."

You know things are getting bad for libraries when the online jokester zine Cracked publishes an article entitled “6 Reasons We’re in Another ‘Book-Burning’ Period in History.” 

  • Yeah, “book-pulping” has apparently been a thing since WWII. Books take up space, and since libraries have that in a limited supply, not to mention limited funding, what happens with the books labeled “unnecessary”? Whoa. We’re talking everyone from Border’s to the British Library have incinerated books that don’t have a space on the shelf. Recycling centers will often times pay for the book pulp. The literal guts of books killed in their prime.
  • The question is, what is getting the coveted spot on the library space? Davis says, “Let’s face it, books are going out of vogue anyway. In the last three months of 2010, e-books began to outsell paper books on Amazon. E-books don’t take up any space; you can fit an approximate infinity of them on a decent hard drive. When your entire local library can be replaced by a USB drive the size of your fingernail, the only thing keeping those books out of an industrial-size furnace is people who have some innate fondness for books. And there isn’t much room in this economy for innate fondness.”
  • As much as I have really begun to love the ways that more digital media can be integrated into the library environment, I shed a tear or two thinking that shelf space is sacrificed for social and/or computer space. However, there are a few books in my local library’s Y.A. section that may be a welcome addition to any burn pile. (This may not be the time to take a principled stand against Twilight.) 
  • Perhaps, instead of having a defeatist attitude we should remember that libraries obviously aren’t ditching every copy of every book. This could be incentive for communities of libraries to form in order for patrons to still have access to a wide range of books. As long as each library still serves the needs of their particular community; libraries aren’t just about the books, they’re a communal space and a bank of information among other things.

For a much more reasonable and optimistic view read Linda Holmes’ post for the NPR blog Monkey See.