Received a literacy grant from our state library
Last year our public library, the Daniel Boone Regional Library (DBRL) in Columbia Missouri, applied for and received a literacy grant from our state library and the IMLS. We argued in the grant application that news and media literacy is not just tangential to literacy in general, in this day and age it should be part of a broader literacy curriculum.
The program has been a real success! After a slow start due to Covid, we moved everything to the online seminar format and are now reaching out to organizations and civic groups throughout our service region. We have teamed up with the University of Missouri School of Journalism and an organization called IREX (International Research and Exchange Board) as project partners. They have helped us greatly with our curriculum for the seminars.
As of this point we currently have 8 seminars lined up this winter and spring with I'm sure more to come! These groups are diverse: from local Rotary clubs, to college courses in research methodology, to a small, rural book-club. We feel like we are in a special place to help people navigate the very tricky world of digital news and disinformation and what we are concentrating on is developing a toolbox for media consumers. This toolbox includes empowering users and patrons to do the following:
1. To distinguish between news/ and reported facts and misinformation (incorrect information) and disinformation, which is information designed to mislead or create harm toward a person, group, institution, etc.
2. To have emotional resilience, to recognize when a headline or story is meant to be emotionally manipulative, and feel confident in your skills to evaluate online articles and stories before you share them with others.
3. To use tools and practices that make you better and more confident media consumers.
Although this grant and initiative is specifically geared toward adults, we feel like it could easily be repurposed for middle and high schoolers. We at DBRL feel like we are doing our little part in helping people navigate through this tumultuous and confusing time in human history.
In conclusion, I would say that if there are opportunities to integrate your institution's media literacy projects into more broad based or grant funded literacy programs--go for it! We have been greatly assisted through IMLS funding in terms of the books and resources we have been able to disseminate to our patrons and users. And although this project will not be grant funded in 2022, we will keep this initiative going into perpetuity as we feel it is essential work for public libraries in the 21st century.