Transliteracy and information literacy: Why it is important that we understand the connection

I have been on the Transliteracy bandwagon for some time now, following the Bobbi Newman (and significant others) Libraries and Transliteracy blog with interest. I have two pressing concerns with Transliteracy, neither of which cast any doubts on the premise that it is crucial that all librarians get to grips with the concept and the consequent imperatives for change in our practice.

My concerns relate to the fact that, firstly, I am not hearing any conversation about Transliteracy in New Zealand at all. Am I listening at the wrong keyholes, or is the topic as completely off the radar as it appears? Are we still locked down in the information literacy bunkers, blinkers on, believing that as long as we get that down, we’ll be OK? Or, worse still, are some of us not even in that bunker yet?

Which brings me to my second concern – and that is the firm belief that if we don’t understand that Transliteracy is a necessary extension of information literacy for the Web 2.0 world, and not any kind of replacement for information literacy, then I fear that the entire profession is listening at the wrong keyholes.

We must meet our customers (read students, patrons, clients – make the hat fit your professional headspace), at the point where their needs meet our skill set. That may be alongside a set of encyclopedias in a dingy, dusty, faraway stack, but is far more likely to be online, in the bowels of a complex database or a poorly designed website. Our skills in search strategies, information evaluation, and curation must be made available to our customers in a context that allows them to learn the transferable nature of those skills – that is, the trans- literate nature of the skills themselves. That is how we must not only add value, but also demonstrate our value and continuing relevance.

The following slide share from Lane Wilkinson was posted on the Libraries and Transliteracy blog, and is best digested after a read of that explanatory post, which provides context.

Are you a global librarian? Is Transliteracy in your vocabulary? And finally, how do we take Transliteracy from an understood and clearly articulated part of our vocabulary to a deeply embedded facet of our professional practice? What needs to change?

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4 Responses to Transliteracy and information literacy: Why it is important that we understand the connection

  1. Petra Frommer says:

    Thanks for the great post, it showed me that there are other people out there who have the same concerns about transliteracy as me! I’m quite new to the topic since I just finished my LIS degree and started working at the University Library of the Technical University of Munich. I’m working on a project called “Transliteracy” and I am not hearing any discussion about that in Germany neither… My biggest concern is that so far I don’t really understand how that whole transliteracy framework should be adopted in libraries, or as you said it:
    “And finally, how do we take Transliteracy from an understood and clearly articulated part of our vocabulary to a deeply embedded facet of our professional practice?”
    So, what can we do? I would be glad if there was a discussion about what exactly libraries can do in practice!

  2. Pingback: What I’m Reading (weekly) « Wearing 500 Hats

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