At a time when all-around rules fragmentation of opinions, media literacy is of particular importance. At this time librarians are especially local community leaders who have the opportunity to meet, educate and inform local people face-to-face, and to make informed decisions based on credible, verified information, without being misinformed or manipulated. That is why at the beginning of November a webinar “Media literacy – not only an issue of education but also for health and safety” was held for librarians in Latvia.
What is media literacy? It is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create and act using all forms of communication. In its simplest terms, media literacy builds upon the foundation of traditional literacy and offers new forms of reading and writing. Media literacy empowers people to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators, and active citizens.
Media literacy also is one of the topics included in BIBLIO project`s training modules of Community engagement and communication officer (CECO). These modules are “Introduction to digitization”, “Browsing, valuing, searching, and filtering trusted data, information, and digital content”, “Identifying and evaluating fake data, information, and digital content” and “Managing data, information, and digital content”.
As information providers and hubs for lifelong learning, libraries have always been resources for helping communities develop media literacy skills. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, and in an age when we increasingly rely on digital media for information and communication, these critical thinking skills are more important than ever.
The webinar “Media literacy – not only an issue of education, but also for health and safety” took place online on November 4th. More than 800 Latvian librarians from public, school, academic and college libraries took part in it. The great interest of librarians in the webinar was caused by the quality and topicality of its content. The webinar was hosted by Nika Aleksejeva, a leading digital environment researcher in the Baltics, DRFLab, Atlantic Council / NATO Stratcom COE, disinformation researcher. The speakers were experts in the field of medicine – Chief Physician of Covid-19 Department at Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital, Lecturer at Riga Stradins University (RSU) Department of Biology and Microbiology, Head of Infection Control Service at Children’s Clinical University Hospital Dana Isarova and Disease Prevention Center epidemiologist Viktorija Černiševa.
There were also Klinta Ločmele, doctor of communication sciences media literacy expert, Anna Žabicka, doctoral candidate in social anthropology at the University of Vienna RSU, and Liene Valdmane, methodologist of the Latvian Safer Internet Center. In conclusion, Māra Jēkabsone, Chairwoman of the Board of the Latvian Librarians’ Association, called on librarians to think and act rationally, responsibly, strategically, sustainably and ethically, promoting a safe environment and reducing the Covid-19 crisis.
One of the lecturers – media literacy expert Klinta Ločmele as part of promoting media skills will develop methodological material for librarians “Data and statistics: how to evaluate and see misleading?”. It aims to strengthen public media literacy and critical thinking by evaluating data and statistics. The material will reveal the most popular ways of manipulating numbers, their interpretation and visual representation, providing examples from the Latvian and international information space.
Contently rich and valuable presentations of the seminar in Latvian are available on the professional portal of Latvian libraries https://www.biblioteka.lv/aizvadits-medijpratibas-vebinars-bibliotekariem/. Content can be easily translated with www.hugo.lv.