For immediate release | August 9, 2011

AASL screens digital media documentary at national conference

CHICAGO – In conjunction with the appearance of Dr. Mimi Ito, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) will present two screenings of the documentary “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century” as part of its national conference program.

The documentary explores how mobile and digital tools are changing the ways young people learn and showcases ways digital media is being using in education. Both showings will take place Thursday, Oct. 27, as a complement to the Exploratorium.

As part of One Film, One Conference, conference attendees will have two opportunities to view “Digital Media” and examine the work done by the Digital Youth Project, a three-year MacArthur Foundation funded research study. Through interviews and online observations, the project team discovered that youth are not only using online media to expand friendships and interests, but to also engage in peer-based, self directed learning. Through digital media, youth are discovering a degree of freedom and self-paced learning that they may not be finding in a traditional classroom setting.

“One of the implications of Digital Youth’s Project’s study is that educational institutions need to keep up with the rapid changes introduced by digital media in order to stay relevant,” explains Carl Harvey, AASL president. “School librarians are uniquely qualified to meet this challenge. Not only do school librarians integrate digital media and social networking into curriculums, but they also collaborate with other educators to foster an understanding and appreciation of how these new tools enhance the learning process.”

One of the co-leaders of the project team appearing in the documentary is national conference closing general session speaker Dr. Mimi Ito. Dr. Ito, an international expert on how people use mobile technologies and new digital media in their everyday lives, will close the conference with a presentation on how social network technologies are changing the way students learn, play, socialize and participate in the world.

By viewing the documentary in advance of the closing session, conference attendees will have a unique opportunity to enhance their understanding of Dr. Ito’s program. In addition, all conference attendees will receive a copy of the documentary that will enable them to replicate these important conversations when they return home. Both Dr. Ito’s appearance and the availability of the “Digital Youth” documentary are made possible by the generous support of the Pearson Foundation. “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century” was produced with funding from the MacArthur Foundation and the Pearson Foundation.

“We are delighted to be given the opportunity to share the ‘Digital Media’ documentary with AASL national conference attendees,” said Mark Nieker, president and chief executive officer of the Pearson Foundation. “AASL and the Pearson Foundation share a common belief that access to information in its many forms is critical to 21st century learning. Digital media’s role in education is rapidly expanding. We hope that Dr. Ito’s appearance and the showings of the documentary will inspire school librarians and encourage them to incorporate some of the new approaches that the documentary showcases directly into their own local programs.”

The AASL 15th National Conference and Exhibition, "Turning the Page," is the only national conference dedicated solely to the needs of school librarians and their roles as educational leaders. Taking place Oct. 27-30 in Minneapolis, the AASL National Conference will feature preconferences, numerous concurrent sessions, more than 200 exhibiting companies, educational and school tours, a storytelling festival and special appearances by award-winning authors. The deadline for advance registration is September 29. For more information or to register, visit

The Pearson Foundation extends Pearson's commitment to education by partnering with leading nonprofit, civic, and business organizations to provide financial, organizational, and publishing assistance across the globe. The Foundation aims to make a difference by sponsoring innovative educational programs and extending its educational expertise to help in classrooms and in local communities. More information on the Pearson Foundation can be found at

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.


Jennifer Habley