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Sarah Brady | March 12, 2018

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”
– Ray Bradbury

Much has been written about the role of the library in the digital age, and it’s clear that librarians today need a larger skill set than in the past – they’re keepers of books, but they also teach information literacy, run makerspaces, provide technical support, work on digital projects and teach and manage access to digital collections. Librarians also link students and colleagues to the world, giving them the tools to make global connections and expand their perspectives.

Perhaps one of the most important roles of a librarian is as a digital mentor, teaching healthy digital habits to students. Studies show that tweens spend about six hours a day interacting with screens and consuming media, and teenagers can spend up to nine hours a day (source). Jim Steyer of Common Sense Media says that with screentime increasing, “we are now in the true emergence of digital natives; that has enormous implications for anyone who cares about media, technology and children.”

As digital mentors, librarians can provide training and guidance to help young people develop tech skills and learn to navigate the internet. Jessica Lander, a teacher and a graduate of the Harvard School of Education, offers a few tips to help students gain digital literacy in the classroom (source):

  1. Identify motive, tone and bias. Ask students to pull up an article, help them brainstorm possible motives and explore how students can use this new information to better identify motives in articles, images, memes and anything else they might encounter online. To help students identify tone and bias, find two articles on the same subject from different sites, and explore why the authors chose the words they did. Then ask students to write their own biased news story (template from Teaching Tolerance).
  2. Teach skepticism. Two-thirds of Americans get some of their news on social media (source). Ask students to find an example of misinformation online, and then compare and contrast with a similar article from a reputable source.
  3. Teach about algorithms. Algorithms shape what we see online, which plays a big part in shaping beliefs. Two students can search the same keyword and receive different results. By learning about search algorithms, students will see the factors that play into the search results they receive and can become more responsible digital consumers. Here’s a lesson that teaches about algorithms and digital literacy (from Teaching Tolerance).

Jessica Lander also pulls together digital literacy resources for teachers, including lessons, assessments and reports. You can find that information at the bottom of this article.

How World View supports librarians and media coordinators:

For K-12 media specialists, World View’s workshop for school library media coordinators, “Creating a Global Media Center,” is April 26-27, 2018 in Chapel Hill. Please see the webpage for more information (will be updated in the next month) or register here. Only five spaces remain!

For community college librarians, World View is testing a pilot program as part of our NC Global Distinction Program to globalize community college libraries. Librarians will submit a proposal, visit UNC-Chapel Hill to meet with area specialist librarians, National Resource Center staff and UNC faculty and then receive a stipend to purchase materials and create LibGuides and other resources. If you are a community college librarian interested in this opportunity, please email for more information about next year’s grant cycle.

In other news, March 8 marked International Women’s Day. You can find World View’s roundup of resources from 2017 here.