Computers in Libraries 2010 – Libraries and Transliteracy

This year’s Computers in Libraries conference was themed “Information Fluency: Literacy for Life”, and the task of defining and supporting new literacies has rightfully risen to the forefront of librarian’s minds– highlighted by the IMLS Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills initiative and the recent findings of the Knight Foundation’s report Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age. Further evidence that it is libraries that fill an crucial gap in addressing the digital divide are the findings of the recent US Impact study confirming that a large portion of the “have nots” in the digital age rely on us for our infrastructure.

While this isn’t news to those of us in libraries, I do think that at this crucial time, it’s finally getting attention outside of libraries– and that is huge. Just as many who are tied to the idea that we’re not much more than a warehouse for books are wondering if we have a place anymore, there comes confirmation that we are important for oh so many more reasons as well. So to my mind, the efforts of the librarians who are producing the Libraries and Transliteracy site are especially relevant and commendable.

At this year’s conference, I had the honor and privilege of presenting with two of the authors of the Libraries and Transliteracy blog, Buffy Hamilton and Bobbi Newman. Bobbi introduced the concept of Transliteracy, “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” and Buffy highlighted the role of school libraries in supporting transliteracy and tied it to research done by Dr. Deborah Brandt.

My portion of the talk was to discuss how traditional IT departments must redefine their missions and orientation to better integrate with the rest of the library and its services (in fact, the IMLS recommends that a 21st century organization dedicates 75% of its resources to supporting  21st century skills and that “strategic planning for physical and IT infrastructure is fully aligned with the institution’s goals to enhance audiences’ 21st century skills“). We know that many claim that “IT is dead” and while I find that proclamation to be a bit premature, I see a lot of parallels with the pressure that libraries have felt with the changes of the last 15 years.

I’m not that happy with the Slideshare conversion. Because I use the “Presentation Zen” style in my slides, when you click through you get very little of what the talk was about. If you follow the link to the Slideshare site, you can read the notes I included which tell more of the full story. The best compliment I received after the presentation was when John Blyberg tweeted “Wish our profession had more IT managers like @brewinlibrarian“. I see a bright future for libraries, but we must leverage our IT resources well to make it happen.

Links to some of the resources I used or recommend: