ALA releases free practitioners' guide, webinar series on adult media literacy education

For Immediate Release
Thu, 12/10/2020


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office

CHICAGO — Imagine that you are working at the reference desk when a patron comes to you with a question. They cite a “fact” that has been widely debunked, mentioning an article from a publication that you know to be untrustworthy. What can you, as a library worker, do to educate and inform them?

In response to the need for media literacy education, the American Library Association (ALA) has released a free digital guide and related webinar series to help library workers plan for moments like these.

Media Literacy in the Library: A Guide for Library Practitioners” contains information, program ideas and conversation starters on topics like misinformation and disinformation; architecture of the internet; civics; media landscape and economics; and media creation and engagement. The 30-page guide also explores ways to “meet patrons where they are” by integrating media literacy into reference interactions and existing programs. Download the guide here.

In the guide, library workers may explore:

  • Concepts such as filter bubbles, confirmation bias, and news deserts
  • How to answer questions about false or misleading news items in reference interactions
  • Virtual and in-person program ideas covering topics like fact checking, cookies, internet privacy, the Freedom of Information Act and local media
  • Ideas for discussing the corporate media landscape through a reading of “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  • Tips and resources for measuring program outcomes

A series of one-hour webinars will explore these concepts from the guide. The webinars are free for all library workers, though space is limited. Register for the live sessions at the links below; all sessions will be recorded and available within 24 hours on ALA’s Programming Librarian website.

The materials were created for out-of-school adult audiences, who library workers will generally meet in a public library context. However, many of the approaches and best practices explored are appropriate for a classroom or other library setting.

Media literacy empowers people to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens within our complex, ever-changing digital environment. A media-literate adult should be able to access, share and create media across multiple formats and platforms while utilizing critical thinking skills to evaluate the purpose and potential impact of the material.

“Media Literacy in the Library: A Guide for Library Practitioners” and the webinar series were created in collaboration with talented thought leaders from the library and media literacy sectors, including Kristen Calvert of Dallas (Texas) Public Library; Natasha Casey of Blackburn College (Illinois); Amber Conger of Lexington (South Carolina) County Public Library; Nicole A. Cooke of the University of South Carolina School of Information Science; Kurtis Kelly of Estes Valley (Colorado) Library; Laura Saunders of Simmons University School of Library and Information Science (Massachusetts); and Michael A. Spikes of the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy (Illinois).

These co-authors were among 30 expert advisors to ALA’s Media Literacy Education in Libraries for Adult Audiences project.

Media Literacy Education in Libraries for Adult Audiences is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant LG-13-19-0089-19.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit