Picture a library, softly lit by the glow of warm incandescent bulbs, with the soothing white noise created by a thumb sliding across the page and meeting the index finger against the opposing side, a turn, and then a return to silence. Listen, perhaps, to the hushed dyadic whispers between a patron and a librarian across the circulation desk, discussing a book or a research project. Maybe even the flit of fingers cavorting through the card catalog, or the microfilm reel spinning. In this library there is a uniformity in both content and process among all patrons.
Now return to the twenty-first century, entering a space lit by the glow of computer screens, iPads, and environmentally friendly energy-efficient bulbs. Hear the trebled escape of sounds emanating from earbuds, the rapid tapping of fingers on keyboards, and the clicking of mice. Perhaps take notice of the digitally generated shutter sound from a camera. Some patrons text, some type, some write. Reading is happening through the printed page, online via RSS feeds and digital readers, as well as via audio. At a time when technologies change at a rapid pace, the ability to create a space where students can acquire meaning is the charge of the transliterate school librarian. Adaptation, flexibility, and an open mind are some of the tools we will need to promote learning that will accommodate our transliterate students, allowing them to construct and convey meaning in their world.
A transliteracy conversation includes these terms:
* Multimedia creations: These use more than one medium in the product, such as painting and video.
* Transmedia creations: The viewer becomes part of the creation. As one Hollywood executive involved in the creation of transmedia entertainment explained, "Transmedia ... must utilize different media to create a single universe in which multiple storylines and characters can exist and evolve for an interactive audience experience" (Carman 2011).
* Transliteracy: "Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks" (Newman et al. 2011).
How should the skills of transliteracy be addressed in the school library? Tom Ipri (2010) has addressed some of the problems we face as school librarians, pointing out that we do not yet have scope and sequence for transliteracy, nor are we ever likely to have them. Instead, students need to become transliterate by doing. They need opportunities to move between media as they demonstrate their understanding of science, mathematics, history, etc. The specific skills needed will evolve along with the technology employed, so the school librarian must keep up to date with this ever-changing landscape.
The experience of Mark McBride at SUNY Buffalo illustrates the potential and the problems with introducing transliteracy into the learning...