If I have completely misread this report, then I apologize right now for putting my foot in my mouth, but I’m wondering why school librarians are generally absent from the “Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action” (A White Paper on the Digital and Media Literacy Recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy) report written by Renee Hobbs, someone whom I hold in high regard. Why are Hobbs and the Knight Commission overlooking school librarians as critical and essential stakeholders who could help leverage this plan into motion through public schools? School librarians are perfectly positioned in terms of knowledge and skills to help implement the recommendations outlined in the report.
Recommendation 3, which advocates the creation of a Digital Media and Literacy Youth Corps, has some language that I find somewhat disturbing:
Congress should dedicate 10 percent of Americorps funding for the development of a Digital and Media Literacy (DML) Youth Corps. The DML Youth Corps would be a service outreach program that offers training and professional development in digital and media literacy to a group of recent college graduates and places them, in teams, to work in public libraries, school libraries and technology centers, local public access centers, and other community non-profit organizations.”
While this DML Youth Corps is a lovely idea, I would suggest a better idea is Congress providing funding for every public school in America to have a highly qualified and fully certified school librarian. Instead of outreach in “school libraries and technology centers,” how about providing funding not only to put a school librarian in every building, but to provide funding to build a team of school librarians for every school where we can be embedded in grade or content level teams to truly infuse and integrate these literacies as a seamless and essential part of every student’s learning experience on a daily basis throughout the school year? Is a “recent college graduate” really someone who is best qualified to provide the kind of instruction and learning experiences on an extended basis to infuse these literacies in the lives of children and teens? I think it is already well established that “youth” does not necessarily correlate with one’s competencies in these literacies. I would also say the same for public librarians—while the idea of a digital/media literacy core is admirable, you already have a corp in place with our talented peers in public libraries to serve populations of all ages.
I am normally a huge fan of Hobbs as well as the Knight Foundation, and I do like several of the recommendations and find them meaningful. However, I think that this report, while driven by noble principles, misses the mark in overlooking school librarians as an obvious and existing resource in helping cultivate these literacies in more powerful and consistent ways and as sponsors of these new media literacies to help close the participation gap. Perhaps if there were more of us in place already and if our programs were not being cut across the nation at an alarming pace, we would not be dealing with the gaps we are seeing now with youth in terms of effectively cultivating these literacies in conjunction and collaboration with classroom teachers. I’m disappointed that Hobbs and the Knight Foundation seem to be overlooking school librarians as a ready, willing, and able resource who could be powerful facilitators of this plan.
What do you think? Have I misread this report, and if not, why have Hobbs and the Knight Foundation made this glaring omission?