literacy for public libraries

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  • 1. Defining Literacy for Public Library Service
    Vanessa Irvin Morris, Asst. Professor
    The iSchool at Drexel
    Philadelphia, PA, USA
    2008 2011. Defining Literacy for Public Library Service by Vanessa Irvin Morris is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at

2. Literacy Defined
Gordon & Gordon (2003) define literacy as: the degree of interaction with written text that enables a person to be a fluent, functioning, contributing member of the society in which that person lives and works (17, italics mine).
They also say that literacy is contextual, based on social, economic, and technological demands (17).
3. Literacy Defined
Hilyard (2004) cites the Workforce Investment Act of 1998s definition:
An individuals ability to read, write, speak in English, compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family of the individual, and in society (18).
4. Literacy Defined
Freire & Macedo (1987) see literacy as transformational, democratizing and social justice oriented.In short, they call for a view of literacy as a form of cultural politics (viii).
Furthermore, they say that literacy is more than just the mechanical ability to read letters and words; literacy is about the relationship of readers to the world (viii).
5. Literacy in the Public Library
Q: What is literacy for the librarian?
Q: What is literacy for patrons?
Q: How do librarians perceive literacy service as
library service?
Q: How do patrons perceive literacy service from
the library?
6. In a Nutshell
Every experience is ultimately the answer to a reference question.
~ Vanessa Irvin Morris.
7. Multiple Literacies
Thus as public librarians, we are in the position to promote and support multiple literacies:

  • Traditional

8. Computer 9. Media 10. Visual 11. Cultural 12. Linguistic 13. Social 14. Local / Lived 15. Information


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