Doorway to Knowledge
At the Kansas City Public Library, we are a doorway to knowledge for all people in our community. We know that we need to be available to help our community navigate ecosystems of information, so we have started a resource guide for our patrons to use. Calling on the expertise of The News Literacy Project, the NewseumED program, and others, we will give our community tools to distinguish fact from fiction, distinguish reporting from opinion, and how to fact-check what they are seeing, reading, and hearing. We are in the process of building a training program for our staff so that any representative of the Kansas City Public Library is prepared to help patrons with questions about disinformation, social media, media literacy, or news literacy. We are aware of the multiple literacies in our community - civil, climate, finance, health, legal, and others - and we will support our patrons in their search for knowledge and understanding. In terms of finding common ground, we are working with community partners and hosting discussion groups to discover and highlight our common ground and to share bridge-building possibilities.
In addition, the Library’s Kansas City Digital Media Lab (led by Andrea Ellis), a part of the national YOUmedia Network, has been integrating the fundamental principles of media literacy into programing for patrons, ages 9-18, since 2014. Using hands-on, experiential learning practices, staff challenge youth to think critically about the media they are both consuming and creating. This includes not only analyzing social media, but also evaluating their music, YOUtube videos, and other online sources they use to gain information. The fact that they learn through the process of creation often provides more credibility and ownership for their learning, as a result the role of the Library staff is simply to facilitate the experience and create an environment where questioning and critical thinking are championed.