The role of the TL in practise with regard to the convergence of literacies in the 21st Century

In what authors are referring to as the post Gutenberg parenthesis society, (Kenny, 2011; Pettitt, Donaldson, & Paradis, 2010), an emphasis on textual literacy is no longer sufficient. Shifts in technology, particularly with the advent of Web 2.0 and its social media affordances mean that literacy has become a dynamic and multifaceted concept that goes beyond information literacy but incorporates digital, visual, media and a multitude of other literacies under the umbrella term multi-literacy (Mackey & Jacobson, 2011). Trans-literacy as a concept, attempts to map meaning and interaction across these literacies and different media, including social media (Ipri, 2010).


gutenberg parenthesis


O’Connell (2012) suggests the teacher librarian (TL) respond along three strategic dimensions. Firstly through an involvement strategy whereby the TL “meets students where they are”, secondly with a responsive information strategy that filters, curates, and shares content and finally through a leadership strategy by taking leadership in curriculum, broaching the digital divide, championing digital citizenship and global sharing. While she encourages TL’s to create a personal learning environment (PLE), utilize their personal learning network (PLN) and personal web tools (PWT), it can be posited that the TL has to go beyond creating and using these tools personally, but to ensure educators and students in the community can also tap into their power.

Information literacy concerns itself with the selection, evaluation and use of information to solve a problem or research question, however, trans-literacy goes beyond this paradigm to the creation and sharing of ideas and the importance of social connections. Besides constructivism, the TL should incorporate principles of connectivism in their teaching approach, emphasizing the connections between the individual, data and others in the current networked culture (McBride, 2011). This principle is wonderfully illustrated by Joyce Valenza in her video “See Sally Research” (Valenza, 2011), which also highlights the importance of TLs creating an environment in which students go beyond using information for personal research but as a means of expressing themselves as digital citizens. Waters (2012) expounds on the theme of digital citizenship and rightly points out that this should go beyond behaviours and prohibitions creating a safe and civil digital environment but that TLs should encourage their students to participate as producers and managers of information and perspectives in a globally socially responsible manner.



In their book “Literacy is not enough”, Crockett, Jukes and Church (2011) create a conceptual model incorporating information, solution, creativity, collaboration and media fluency and provide the educator or TL with suggested processes and scaffolds for teaching each (reviewed by Loertscher & Marcoux, 2013). In his talk, Lee Crockett emphasizes that these fluencies are important to the 21st-Century learner independent of the amount of digital technology employed, something that is often neglected when technology dominates the conversations (Crockett, 2013).

As TLs we need to be aware of all these discussions around the various iterations of literacies as well as taking leadership in our learning environments and ensuring our teaching and assessments follow the latest standards where these are available.


Crockett, L. (2013, February 28). Literacy is NOT Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age [Streaming Video]. Retrieved January 4, 2015, from

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age. Kelowna, B.C. : Thousand Oaks, Calif.: 21st Century Fluency Project ; Corwin.

Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy: What does it mean to academic libraries? College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532–567. Retrieved from

Kenny, R. F. (2011). Beyond the Gutenberg Parenthesis: Exploring New Paradigms in Media and Learning. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 3(1), 32–46. Retrieved from

Loertscher, D. V., & Marcoux, E. (2013). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age. Teacher Librarian, 40(3), 42–42,71.

Mackey, T. P., & Jacobson, T. E. (2011). Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy. College & Research Libraries, 72(1), 62–78. doi:10.5860/crl-76r1

McBride, M. F. (2011). Reconsidering Information Literacy in the 21st Century: The Redesign of an Information Literacy Class. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 40(3), 287–300.

O’Connell, J. (2012). Change has arrived at an iSchool library near you. In Information literacy beyond library 2.0 (pp. 215–228). London: Facet.

Pettitt, T., Donaldson, P., & Paradis, J. (2010, April 1). The Gutenberg Parenthesis: oral tradition and digital technologies. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from

Valenza, J. (2011). See Sally Research @TEDxPhillyED [Streaming Video]. Retrieved May 22, 2014, from

Waters, J. K. (2012, September 4). Turning Students into Good Digital Citizens. Retrieved January 2, 2015, from





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