A 'New Media' Information-Literacy Tool

By Teresa Koltzenburg |
    Can we claim that there's a difference between watching television and playing a video game? or reading a book and surfing the Web? or writing a letter and writing an e-mail? or having a conversation and participating in some form of Instant Messaging? Does the mobility of telecommunications shift our everyday lives? Are we more individualized in contemporary culture than we were when people watched television in the 1960s and `70s?

    These are some of the questions that revolve around our use of new media. What we are experiencing are new definitions, divides, and distinctions around our private worlds and our public worlds. These shifts are just part of everyday culture in the contemporary moment and what we are trying to explore in our panel entitled, "Public-Private Intersections in New Media."
    —Video Introduction, Public-Private Intersections in New Media.
Slide from PowerPoint presentation at Public-Private Intersections in New Media Public-Private Intersections in New Media gets almost top billing on Northeastern University Libraries' home page. This e-learning tool is a treasure trove of new media information literacy-related content. A heavy-duty new media resource and reference guide to new media literature and studies on its own (the PowerPoint presentation delineates questions about new media that information professionals and those interested in information usage have likely considered in their everyday work or contemplation), the Web site will soon be augmented with a blog, taking the portal into Web 2.0 mode.

The site, Public-Private Intersections in New Media, says Amanda Folk, an MLIS candidate at the School of Information Sciences @ University of Pittsburgh, was created as a result of panel discussions hosted at Northeastern University Libraries last fall. Folk, who learned of the project from her LIS 2830 class (Marketing and Public Relations for Libraries) instructor Dr. Sue Alman (director of distance education and outreach in Pitt's School of Information Sciences) and Maria Carpenter (Pitt alum, Northeastern Libraries Library Advancement and Communications Officer, and one of the librarian subject specialists/editors for the new media project), says she was intrigued by it, thinking it would make a good project to focus on for a LIS 2830 class assignment.

Pitt MLIS candidate Amanda Folk I asked Amanda (who I came into contact with through Dr. Alman after meeting her at ALA Midwinter, San Antonio), as a library information-science graduate student, why this new media resource caught her attention. “Frankly, it is not going to go away, and it's something that librarians are going to need to stay up to date on,” she pragmatically replied. “I know that my college library has started to blog, such as library hours, new acquisitions, and programming that's happening in the library. And I think a lot of the new media—like blogging, podcasting, vodcasting—can really be a great resource for reaching an undergraduate audience, maybe a techie audience, and a teen audience.”

A Collection of Knowledge
The aim of Public-Private Intersections in New Media is outlined on the home page: “This project is intended to introduce students to the key concepts in new media and to address a host of new media issues including the collapse of distinctions between media forms and the societal effects of new technologies such as blogs, chat rooms, TiVo, and Facebook.” The home page also explains that the project is the result of a collaboration among Northeastern librarians, students, and communication and journalism professors.

The site highlights the work of four academics/authors/researchers currently involved in the study of new media, Axel Bruns, Dan Kennedy, P. David Marshall, and Craig Robertson; clicking on each of the new media expert's names yields a brief bio and provides links to the individual's scholarly and research work on new media (articles, books, essays, and such).

The portal is supplemented with the PowerPoint presentation I mentioned previously, which features salient summaries of key concepts and questions—e.g., in a brief consideration of the Oxford English Dictionary and Wikipedia, “Which source would you lean toward citing, and why? Or would you use both?”—surrounding new media and how new media affects information use, communications behavior, and society.

The blog component of the site is still being developed, which Folk explains will transfigure the Web site from one of a fixed information-delivery portal to one featuring an interactive forum for further knowledge contribution and, perhaps, new media extrapolation. “This blog will be a resource for librarians, faculty members, students, techies or bloggers, and information professionals,” Folk adds. “Really—I mean, if you think about it—the community is endless because almost everybody is affected by this new media concept almost daily.”

Folk says, as part of her class assignment, she will soon be issuing a press release about the Public-Private Intersections in New Media project and its soon-to-be-launched blog. She points to Dr. Chris Tomer as an instructor who has helped her immensely with this marketing project. Tomer, she says—who was also involved with the Rock'n'Roll Library project, in which some Pitt MLIS students produced a short video as a marketing-class project for National Library Week last week—"put a lot of work into the creation of the blog," which emulates the aesthetics of the Public-Private Intersections in New Media Web site.

Amanda Folk's interest in new media likely bodes well for her future as a librarian facing an evolving information milieu. “I think we have found good ways to reach out to the traditional academic community—but there are ways that [libraries] reach out to the Baby Boomer-generation that just don't really work with a younger audience,” she notes. “New media is one way to make the library look exciting, like it's modern, that it's not just books in the stacks. So younger users will be like, ‘Wow, they really know how to use this technology. This is cool. This is what I like to use every day.' I think that's important.”

Visit Public-Private Intersections of New Media at www.lib.neu.edu/newmedia and watch various electronic lists, as well as this blog, for news about the Public-Private Intersections in New Media blog.
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