I am 55 years old. I remember TV in black and white with less than 10 channels, a telephone attached to the wall by a chord and music recorded onto large black vinyl discs played with a needle. I began my career in the corporate world while the “typing pool” still existed, mail came from the post office and meetings were always in person. Well, we’ve come a long way since then. I wondered, though, had I really come that far? Now, don’t think that this is going to be another essay about how technology has taken over and people cannot relate to other human beings any longer. This is, instead, a reflection of my own journey toward literacy, media literacy.
Literacy is empowering. When we become readers, the world opens up for our use and enjoyment. Today our world is so much more than books. Media is all around us 24/7 and we have abilities that were never imagined decades ago. Information is at our fingertips, communications travel around the world in an instant and connections made with others dissolve boundaries. The great powers afforded to us by technology and digital media require that we be responsible digital citizens. How does one become such a citizen, especially if you were born before the age of cell phones, MP3 players and online dating? In my experience, one learns things by asking questions, listening to the answer and experiencing it firsthand. The opportunity to be a part of Media Smart Libraries cohort has allowed me to question, listen and learn through experiences. I have attended workshops that have provided ideas for new and innovative programs at the library such as a makerspace, coding workshops, and robotics. I have listened to and learned from experts in the field of media literacy who have taught me about tweets, Raspberry Pi and being savvy online. This new found knowledge has become part of the fabric of my daily work and will continue to drive the development of programming, accessibility and mentorship. I look forward to attending the Summer Institute where participants will be immersed in all things digital for the whole week. The opportunities for new knowledge, shared experiences and collaboration will be energizing.
As I look back over this experience, the greatest satisfaction comes from becoming comfortable as a media mentor. By acknowledging what I did not know, spending time out of my comfort zone, and gaining new skills and knowledge, I can support children and their families as they make decisions about and practice media use. It is an exciting time to serve as a resource for others as they are also exploring all that our digital world has to offer.