Transliteracies: Libraries as the Critical “Classroom”

Brian Hulsey, Electronic Resources/Serials Coordinator, Columbus State University

Gretchen Casseroti, Head of Children and Teen Services, Darien Library

Bobbi Newman could not be at the conference 🙁

Libraries and Transliteracy Website

Gretchen Casseroti

My public library is all about stories (factual)

Folk Tales (Sleeping Beauty). Oral tradition. Brothers Grimm put it into print (nuances). Book. Ballet. Books. Movie. Website Games. Board games. Costuming. Sleeping Beauty is an app as an iPad. Story is what is holding their interest.

Multi-media storytelling: Disney has been doing it for years.

Content vs. Container (kids don’t pay attention to containers): “A typewriter is a means of transcribing thought, not expressing it. –Marshall McLuhan.

Stories are changing: Interactive Fiction. (Teens). The Amanda Project

Kids are learning leaders. Story. Gadget. Subject Area of interest. Kids in a sandbox. Explore. Learn from their mistakes.

The parents need a formal structure. Not as confident.

Flexibility is key. 21st Century Skills — but where are skills going??

Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media.

Transliteracy is an umbrella. Literacy types: print, information, visual, spacial (map-reading), scientific, cultural, media, digital

Something that unifies all of these concepts that the kids are exploring.

Across not All

What can we do?

Reach out to all staff and the community

Libraries need to step up our game. Will the kids learning this way, even use the library when they are grown? All staff need to be involved in the learning process. ALL Staff. Every time staff talks to patron, if every person can give an added value to the experience….


  • Tech Bites (Darien Library)
  • Tech Munchies (Skokie Public Library)
  • Staff led technology training in an informal environment.

Rethink Access to our Collection (Oakland Public Library, Pictogram display)

Picture Books reorganized: changed from alphabetically to color-coded. Ex: pre-literate child: they know color, not spine labels.

Summer Reading Strategies (reluctant readers)

1. Let them read outside the box: print vs. eBook vs. Audio

2. Reading passport. Instead of 15 books read, kids can explore different literacies: drawing, objects, what they were interested in, futuristic cars: have ice cream machines. Kids answered questions that they explored; topics all over the board. Huge success at Darien.

Be technology leaders. Tech Sandbox, Gadget workshops.

Helping patrons one interaction at a time. Micro-interactions turn into a macro-level

Be a place to create, not just consumption. Youmedia.

But also about access to materials, each other. Henry Jenkins — participation gap AND digital divide.

Make your library a place that encourages conversations, invites participation; provides creative outlets; embraces alternative learning styles.

Think about what you can do in your library setting.

Brian Hulsey: Libraries as the Critical Classroom

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alvin Toffler

Standard forms of instruction no longer work.

Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media. (there is a longer quote)

You may not be able to understand the different literacies all at once.

You can stand under my umbrella

Trans — Across; Transition, Translation, Transposition A–>B

Move an idea to the platforms we’re comfortable using.

Trans Beyond Transformation. Language. How we communicate is being transformed.

Original idea can be pushed out in so many different ways: blogs, role playing games, social network; video, published book, painting, etc.

RRR (Reading, Writing, Rithmetic) — never will change. Have to have as a foundation.

NYTimes — Three Rs are no relevant. “The Seven Transdisciplinaries of the Mind,” Educational Technology.

Four Cs: Communicate. Collaborate. Create.

If you’re the best technical writer, but work poorly with people, you’re not productive.

Jobs today, weren’t here 10 years, 10 months ago!

Diversity (program; interests). Flexibility (know your audience; mindmap from reading). Integrating (want the students to come in and work in the library). Transformation (what does the library mean to you: kids did videos, tactile art projects; listen to feedback).

Blended Learning: ability levels (at technology levels esp) of students coming to college widely vary; slowly get them interested in the topic at hand.

Networked Communities: social media. book club. knitting blog. smattering connections that defines you as a person. One person has multiple learning communities: Information. Community development. Educational Technology. Informal. Professional. Research.

Daily Life: IRS tax forms online; medical info online. Driving materials online. Have to help people understand using tax forms online. Simple Computer classes. Email classes.

Personal Privacy: people don’t understand this! Teach them security tips; teach them about privacy settings; most minute thing that many people take for granted. Password security

Building Bridges: digital divide and many other divides. Multi-level caste system. PEW research project on teen mobile use: different demographics use mobile phones more because that’s their only source of Internet access.

It will not be easy: not just for our jobs to stay relevant, but to help your community and your family.

“The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed.” –William Gibson


  • Techbites: brown bag lunch; lunch catered; demo of Twitter as a useful communication tool. Author wrote back about the book discussion after staff posted about a book club. Informal sessions.
  • iPad discussion group. App recommendations.
  • Info Literacy session with students: how to figure out where each group of students are at. Brian watches body language as he begins the session. Plan out time in the session (if possible); ask simple questions like have you used this; work with the professor you’ve been working with (see what the professor knows what’s going on in the class — what the students need). Result of filtering at K12 level — kids don’t know how to use the tools.
  • Perception of transliteracy term in the library communication: divide with people over this term. Full term needs to be done by a theorist, not a library person. We can work with concept. Librarians get caught up with what its being called. Sue Thomas & others in the UK invented this. Don’t hate the name: teach the concept, go between all the different literacies. Have it as part of your toolbox. It gives you a framework. We have to be changing and rethinking everything to remain relevant in the future. 21st Century Skills; Transmedia; Learning 2.0/23 Things; it’s not intimidating academically. This is something that’s approachable and comfortable. It’s great to have the discussion about it grow and develop.