The previous posts in this sub-series of 10-Minute Digital Librarian posts have focused on the importance of protecting yourself, and your users, online.
However, when we only think about internet use in terms of protection against bad things happening, this risks creating a sense of fear or uncertainty.
This can put users off, holding them back from discovering new information and services, reducing the benefits that they can draw from the internet.
An alternative is to look at how to ensure that people feel empowered to use the internet effectively. How can they gain the confidence to go online and make full use of the opportunities they find there, without putting themselves at risk?
This, in broad terms, is how we define digital literacy. As set out in IFLA’s own statement on the subject, when someone is digitally literate, they ‘can use technology to its fullest effect – efficiently, effectively and ethically – to meet information needs in personal, civic and professional lives’.
Just as libraries have a role in supporting literacy in general, many have become key players in efforts to promote digital participation through providing connectivity and access to hardware. It is only one step further to start offering support in building skills (one that many have already taken).
So for our 10th 10-Minute Digital Librarian exercise, explore digital literacy resources.
In some cases, library associations themselves bring together materials or create their own, as is the case with the Public Library Association in the United States.
Elsewhere, organisations focused on supporting libraries have developed tools, such as the Digital Travellers project originally developed by Libraries Without Borders.
The Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington, developed materials to promote digital literacy specifically with mobile phones, and has already promoted these through libraries.
You can also of course look beyond the library field – there are many organisations working on digital inclusion and skills projects, although of course it is important to reflect on whether what is being offered will meet the needs of your community.
One useful approach is to try out available tools for self-assessment, for example the DQ test developed by the DQ Institute in Singapore, whose standard has been adopted by the IEEE.
There will be other tools you can find which can help you – and your community – assess what sort of support would be most useful.
Let us know which resources you have used which are most powerful in helping build digital literacy
If you are interested in issues around digital safety and privacy more broadly, you should take a look at the work of IFLA’s Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section, as well as our Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression.
Discover our series of 10-Minute Digital Librarian posts as it grows.