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.

Libraries & Transliteracy

Bobbi Newman, Matt Hamilton, Buffy Hamilton

Bobbi’s part

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

Fast evolution of technology going on. Industrial revolution will look small by comparison.

1976: first Jobs’ apple computer creatd.

1998: iMac

2001: first iPod

2007: first iPhone

2010: first iPad

Information used to be consumed through the printed word. Information overload concerns been around for a very long time & are not new.

Life being changed by drastic technology changes. Taxes, health info, statutes, contact information, paying bills, social media. Privacy, life online. Password strength (hacking).

Access to internet is increasing. Free wifi just about anywhere. A lot of people still don’t have access, and don’t have ability to get it.

Those with chronic diseases, under the poverty line, and those older are more likely to not be online, but these people need to be online more than anyone else. Social interaction online helps them out, keeps them engaged, saves their lives.

Change. Regurgitation of information in schools. Information is now available online, accessible in two seconds. Must instead be focused on analysis, evaluation, critical thinking about information. Patrons are looking to libraries to learn how to do this. They’re asking, requesting, and demanding this.

Transliteracy is not a destination. About methods of communication, art, culture, not just technology. Grandparents need pics printed; parents can be emailed with links to pics thru email; friends will see the pics the next time they long on.

Reading literacy — learned to read and that was it. Transliteracy is fluid that you must be able to change and learn new things, constantly.

“The future is here it is just not evenly distributed.” –William Gibson. –Knight Commission report & MacArthur Foundation reports talking about second class citizens in this digital world both mention libraries. 2nd class citizens could include senior citizens, those below the poverty line, those with chronic diseases, and some teenagers.

Digital Divide — high speed Internet access AND access to hardware. Ownership of hardware and/or lack of knowledge to use the hardware.

Transliterate Divide — those who can’t discern what a legitimate website is. Those who can’t write a resume.

Libraries are failing their patrons. We assume they know it or ignore it.

Training is important.

What can we do?

  1. stop fighting amongst ourselves. Web 2.0 vs. Anti-Web 2.0. need to meet where the patrons are at. meet the patrons needs, not ours
  2. it won’t be easy. Techies: must lead from here on out and must stop being condescending to those who don’t know; be kind and excited for those learning. Make comfortable environment. Non-techies: must move forward; have to be fearless and try and attempt. You are moving. Standing still is not working at all.
  3. there are no excuses for not doing any of this. patrons need this. It will be hard; no money; no time, but we always find time to what’s important to us. Patrons must be transliterate to be an active participant in society.

Buffy’s Part


reading and writing the world: school libraries as sponsors of transliteracy

  1. sponsors of literacy
  2. participatory librarianship

“literacy is the energy supply of the information age.” –Deborah Brandt.

“this means that our democratic institutions (schools and libraries particularly) have to work hard and thoughtfully to mitigate these forces.” –Deborah Brandt

Knight Foundation is calling upon libraries to be this powerful agent into what literacy can mean in the lives of patrons, for transliteracy, we’re doing something even greater for the public good.

“as new and powerful forms of literacy emerge, they diminish the reach and possibilities of receding ones” –Deborah Brandt

In the very near future, Transliteracy, digital literacy will become as valuable as the three Rs.

How do we invite and facilitate conversations about transliteracy with our patrons?

participatory librarianship is about inviting and creating spaces for participation; sparking conversations (f2f; virtual means); knowledge construction and creation; libraries are in the change business.

Not just books. eBooks; mobile readers; iPods; cell phones; mobile computing (using Evernote, for example); ereaders; research pathfinders that reflect the changing nature of social scholarship with tools such as rss, social networks, videos, mashups, and other information feeds (not just databases).

Connecting students with real world experts. Skype. Blogging.

Collaborative tools to create and share knowledge; Social bookmarking tools (diigo, evernote, delicious);

scaffold alternate ways of representing learning and knowledge (glogster)

Scanning, posting, and licensing artwork (creative commons licenses)

Multigenre elements of learning

Presentation zen and digital citizenship and get away from death-by-powerpoint.

Harness power of cloud computing. RSS; Netvibes; videos; blogs; widgets

Rethinking what “collection” means. Gaming. Manga and anime (graphic novels); virtual reference; digital equipment (flip cameras); information portals & digital information;

“The possibilities are challenging and exciting”

“libraries efforts as sponsors of translitearcy can provide ripple effects in the lives of our patrons.”

Matt’s Part

Supporting Transliteracy

21st century skills– IMLS

customers growing up with expectations of ubiquitous access.

For those not growing up as digital natives, libraries are about the only institution that people can turn to.

IT traditionally looked to as locked-down. Tools looked at as security threats.

“teach yourself.” –IT self-taught, but not normally good teachers, and frustrations provided on both sides during training.

How do we bring everyone to the table and work together?

Get excited and make things.

Have to ask IT to shift focus from fixing things to getting involved with programming; (hacking Wii firmware); program at St Louis Public Library on personal technology assistant;

IT can help take it further; classes on things as removing Spyware; alternatives to paid software; IT can help lead the way to increase tech competencies. IT staff not comfortable with training can work with those more comfortable with training already (reference desk staff).

IT can support digital storytelling workshops; video game club — developing games yourself (Scratch & Alice);

“Make tools for creating and experiencing new media broadly available.

We’ve got to work together. All about partnerships.