28 May 2020

Libraries and Media Literacy: IFLA to Participate in an EU Project

IFLA is working on a Media Literacy project within the framework of the EU 'Preparatory Action on Media Literacy for All'. The goal is to help deliver on libraries’ potential to be agents of change and champions of media literacy, who continue to help build informed and engaged communities.

The case for media and information literacy today

Media and information literacy – the ability to find, critically assess, apply and interact with information on various media channels – is a crucial skillset in today’s information-dense and hyperconnected world. This competency is key to ensuring meaningful access to information from different media sources – access that empowers people, helps them make informed choices and make the best use of information.

Concerns over misinformation and disinformation have commanded a lot of attention over the last years, showing just how important it is for people to be able to judge the reliability, relevance and quality of information they come across through traditional and new media sources every day.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic presents many immense challenges for societies worldwide. It also highlights the role media - especially new and digital channels – play in the way society understands and reacts to these developments. Social media, for example, can be a force that either hurts or helps: enabling crucial conversations but also facing the challenges of countering online misinformation about the virus. Media literacy is crucial to build up informed and engaged communities.

Libraries can help

What does this mean for libraries? As information professionals, librarians have long championed information literacy. This focuses on people’s competencies vis-à-vis information at large, whereas media literacy emphasizes the particular role of media, different media content and channels, and its broader societal impact.  Libraries’ experience in developing such competencies – as well as their ability to reach and offer inclusive learning opportunities to their communities – makes them well-positioned to help more people develop media literacy skills.

Recommendations laid out in a 2016 study requested by the European Parliament, for example, include supporting libraries to help realise their potential to improve media and information literacy in their communities. To help deliver on this potential, IFLA is working on an EU-based project curated and coordinated by Tactical Tech, an NGO dedicated to understanding and improving the way digital technologies shape society.

What we will do

The project will offer engaging Media Literacy learning opportunities for the European public through immersive and thought-provoking exhibitions. IFLA is helping arrange for these learning opportunities to be delivered through several public libraries throughout the EU.

The project is taking a look at some of the most pressing media literacy questions the public faces today: online misinformation, digital media ownership, data privacy, tailored content and advertisement delivery, and more! To find out more about the content, take a look at the project webpage: https://theglassroom.org/misinformation.

In cooperation with several libraries in Europe – and once circumstances permit – we will:

  • Help deliver media literacy learning opportunities for their communities;
  • Engage with the representatives of these libraries to help them become media literacy champions;
  • Following the implementation of the project, support and encourage media literacy learning opportunities in libraries in Europe and the world.

We are excited to announce our participation in this project, following several months of preparations together with Tactical Tech and Save the Children Italy. We look forward to seeing how this learning model can be implemented – and how it could be adopted by many more libraries interested in championing media literacy.

Access to information, Access to knowledge, Information literacy, Information society

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