Information and Digital literacy: Integration and evolvement


Retrieved September 17, 2017, from

Knowledge is power

Francis Bacon

The capacity for individuals to change their circumstances can only really take place through the empowerment that comes from being informed and knowing how to access that knowledge. Change begins with information.

Last semester, as part of Information retrieval, we had to write a literature review. Mine was on migrants’ and refugees’ information literacy.  The two sentences above were the final lines of my reflection for the assignment. This was one of the most important things I internalized through doing that task. I have always greatly valued education and knowledge. But up until that point I think that had been an almost intuitive assumption. After reading many articles in order to write about the topic, it became a cognitive understanding: Education, knowledge, know-how, skill and all the other different guises information goes by, all begin with a person being able to access the necessary information.

We live in a time where to be a fully participating member of society means to be information literate and to have a basic degree of digital literacy. We are quickly reaching a moment where literacy alone is not enough. Literacy is a basic beginning. It seems as if there are few areas in society, if any at all, that are left unaffected by someone’s capacity to access that service, contact that person, take part in that forum, and have their voices heard. For those unable to do so, they are at great risk of becoming isolated.

I think that libraries undoubtedly have a massive role to play in this arena. As this week’s readings indicate, this was something that was identified by UNESCO and IFLA in the early 2000’s. Public libraries are traditionally, socially and culturally recognized as agencies that promote information access and use. Offering courses and workshops on information and digital literacy is part of the basic services libraries maintain and should be available to anyone. Along with them I also think Schools should specifically teach information literacy, as the assumption that every young person is a ‘digital native’ is being proven to be a myth.

debate has been taking place for years about how much technological knowledge librarians should have and teach. Libraries are about people, first and foremost. And librarians are not computer scientists (I don’t think they should try to be, either) but it’s impossible to dismiss the fact that librarianship is in a paradigm shift when it comes to this issue. Out of necessity and ingenuity librarians have proven to be a resourceful lot and I think that by and large the industry is adapting, as ever, to the needs of patrons and societal expectations in regards to this topic. When looking at the level of trepidation many librarians had by the upcoming ‘digital revolution’ twenty years ago  and comparing it to where we are today, I think any observer would surmise the industry has acquitted itself well. Perhaps now we can start a conversation about the new direction libraries should go- new librarianship, anyone?







Emergent literacy: Program review

35811680 - little boy studying the scriptures.

Retrieved September 1, 2017, from

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 

I can read with my eyes shut! – Dr Seuss

This rhyme by Dr Seuss encapsulates a truth that should be self-evident: children who learn about the world of books and reading early, have better opportunities than those who don’t. The importance of exposure to pre literacy practice for children is becoming increasingly clear.

For my blog this week I reviewed one of the pre literacy children’s programs offered by the Brisbane City Council libraries: First Five Forever.

The program is funded by the State Library of Queensland. The librarian tells me that this was an initiative from SLQ when it was revealed a few years ago that Queensland was running behind the rest of Australia in literacy rates. Library staff from BCC undergo a two-day training course at SLQ to learn how to facilitate the program. First Five Forever sessions go for half an hour and it is offered in the morning on different days of the week, depending on the library. It is specifically designed for toddlers aged 1 to 2 years but children up to 5 are welcome. I am attending the 9.30 am session on a Saturday morning at Annerley Library.

I’m pleasantly surprised when I learn that it is parents and not their children who are the main intended target of this program. On the face of it this is a storytelling activity for toddlers. However, when I spoke to the librarian she explained to me that what they try to accomplish is to show the parents a variety of simple activities and ideas at home to encourage emergent literacy. Some of the ideas and activities include:

  • Having books available for the child to explore
  • Making lists or timetables
  • Pointing out signs and words
  • Helping children understand a story
  • Explaining tricky words
  • Pointing to words as you read them
  • Clapping out syllables in words

I happen to choose a quiet day. Today it is just a Mum and her 2 year old with the librarian running the program. For the benefit of the exercise I will name the little girl Anna. The session commences with a sing along and Anna is gently encouraged by her Mum and the librarian to do actions that are mentioned in the song (in this case, open and close her hands) and to try and sing words she might recognize. Next there is another song, and this time the librarian specifically asks Anna questions: What sound does a lion make? (roar) What sound do wiper blades make? (swish). Anna has been to these sessions before and clearly is recognizing many of the cues, as well as making a clear connection between words and actions and identifying things (where is your nose, where are your eyes?-what’s this…? Where is the beak of a bird?)

The librarian doing the session is well-versed in the running of it. There is a natural flow as the activities get more complex for Anna. This is not a passive performance where toddlers (or parents) sit and watch. Anna, as well as her mother, are full participants. Anna is constantly asked questions, finishing sentences in a song, connecting words to actions and sounds to words.

The structure is not rigid. It is flexible, going along with the toddler. Anna is allowed to wander but her attention is always captured back, whether with a song, clapping, puppets or colorful scarfs.  Towards the end, Anna’s attention begins to wander and clearly the librarian knows and expects this, introducing a final ‘fun’ activity using bubbles. Even during this activity she is asked questions and encouraged to do actions.

As the session ends, the librarian has a chat with Anna’s Mum in regards to Anna’s capacity to ask questions and recognize words.

This is a well-run program. I am impressed by the amount of interaction required from the toddler, who never gets to sit passively and simply observe. At the same time, the atmosphere is fun and gentle, encouraging the parent to be constantly involved in every single activity. A lot of thought and research has been put into these sessions and this is corroborated by the readings we had this week on children’s preliteracy as well as the articles and report I have provided. A great initiative and in my opinion a fantastic program. Professionally delivered, and relevant to the research on the topic of emergent literacy.