Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I've learned a new word today.  That is always an exciting thing. 


Don't know what it is?  Well, I am just starting to learn myself.  

According to Professor Sue Thomas:
Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.

  My interpretation of Transliteracy is that it is simply the expansion of the term Literacy.  Today there are so many more ways to digest information than just the printed word.  While books are still a valid medium, there is an entire digital universe of information that we are exposed to as well.  This digital universe is multilayered.  Whereas books are two-dimensional physical objects that require an imagination to become multidimensional, digital information can be as layered and multidimensional as the operating system will allow. (Thank goodness books exist, however, because people must NEVER lose the ability to create images in their minds!!!)

   Being able to read is just the first step of transliteracy- one also needs to know how to operate the media through which they are consuming information.  A book needs very few instructions to use- open, read from left to right, close. However a computer, a Smartphone, a Nook or Kindle requires a type of literacy that goes beyond being able to read.  There is a technological literacy required to extract information from this medium. 

Libraries will have to become the places where this type of literacy can be taught.  We already teach basic computer classes and some libraries even teach classes on social networking online.  We will, however, have to expand this education service to include the world of portable computer devices.

From what I am reading Transliteracy and Information Literacy seem to be codependent terms.  As School Librarians, we are responsible for educating students to know how to analyze and dissect information for credibility, validity, and worth.  That is Information Literacy.  However, they will first have to know how to get access to that information.  Knowing how to access information begins with a core skill of Literacy and evolves into the broader set of skills (knowing how to operate multiple devices and formats) which is Transliteracy.  Once Transliteracy is accomplished, Information Literacy is the next step in the evolution of knowledge.

Now more than ever Librarians will be needed to act as guides, and libraries will be needed to provide equitable access in this revolutionary metamorphosis in the world of information.  The smart librarian will stay current in their knowledge and skills and will bend and sway with the changes ahead of us.  Ultimately, our job is to help people attain information- good information- accurate information.  In this new universe of instant information- people can get quite lost, or worse, misinformed.

KnowledgeWorks Foundation- Institute for the Future
Libraries and Transliteracy
Transliteracy Resource Group

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