Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Info Literacy vs. Literacy

My friend, the Coffee Crone over at Taming Coffeesent me this link to an article in the Washington Post. In it the author laments that books are a hard sell, that the library profession nowadays tends to contribute to that trend by eschewing the title "librarian," in favor of something like "media and information specialist."
The author, Thomas Washington, a teacher-librarian further says:
"The buzzword in the trade is 'information literacy,' a misnomer, because what it is really about is mastering computer skills, not promoting a love of reading and books."

Now tell me something, is it always supposed to be about a love of reading and books?
Don't get me wrong--I do love to read. I enjoy reading books. I enjoy reading just about anything that comes my way, except what I have to read for school (and don't get me started on that!) (that's my problem--getting started!).

Some of us get into the profession because of our love of reading and books and our desire to promote it. Others get into the profession--and have always gotten into the profession because of our love of sharing information, our love of providing access to information.

In essence many of us are teachers, but we are just not comfortable with the classroom setting.

I regret that the teens in Mr. Washington's school seem not to be interested in books, but perhaps it's the books themselves. As I said, I am reluctant to read anything for school--unless it's a lit class and I get to read lots of, well, literature. If Mr. Washington is pushing nothing but "classics" at his student, no wonder they're not reading.

He might try interesting them in young adult works by contemporary authors: Avi, Chris Crutcher, Anthony Horowitz, Edith Pattou, Tamora Pierce to name a few. Even the books that some dismiss as trash can serve a purpose: they get kids reading.

It could be "the Gossip Girls," or "Undead and Unwed." Maybe manga. Of course, Harry Potter, Eragon and others like that.

Maybe instead of measuring literacy by how well the classics are read, it's time we redefined the term to include, well, just reading.

By the way, book is the new cool.

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