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Discover How Future Librarians Learn about Media & Digital Technology

Librarians and educators are lifelong learners, connecting people, spaces, and film and media resources in ways that delight, engage, and transform.


Using innovative approaches to professional development, it's possible to build capacity for even more ambitious and influential programs in the future.


In the age of the Internet, librarians must continuously try to meet the fast-changing learning needs of people in their communities. Through lifelong learning and professional development programs, librarians can come to fully embrace the art forms of film and media and use them to help patrons, learners, and community members better understand the complex world and our place in it. 


In CHAPTER 8, we share what we have learned about supporting library and information science (LIS) students as they use film and media to facilitate discussions around controversial social, political, and cultural issues with relevance to local communities. We offer examples of professional development learning experiences that help librarians develop digital and media literacy competencies in both face-to-face synchronous or digital asynchronous dialogue.


When professional development learning experiences are developed collaboratively, they support the needs of people working in both formal and informal education settings like libraries, museums, and nonprofit organizations.

Learning By Doing: Librarians Create Media Programs

People learn best when they create. The opportunity to create a library film/media program in a local community or school library was another vital component of the graduate course.


During the semester, students enrolled in Renee Hobbs' LSC 599 course developed a working relationship with both a class partner and a library partner from a local school or public library.

Students created a library film program that met the needs of a particular target audience, using an online project management platform to develop all aspects of the planning, execution and assessment of the project. In their final project, learners documented their completed library film programs and produced a final report that describes, analyzes and reflects upon the program and the experiential learning experience. Learners produced a print report and a five-minute PechaKucha style screencast. 


In CHAPTER 8, you'll meet Bill Lancellota, a librarian at Westerly Public Library, who participated in a webinar offered by the Media Education Lab on film distribution and exhibition in public libraries, where librarians were encouraged to go directly to the filmmakers themselves as they plan their programs. In reflecting on his learning experience, he described how film programs bring people together so that they can engage in new ideas, think critically about what makes an interesting film get the kids to stop just “hanging out” and begin to “mess around” with film making. “Filmmakers can be very cooperative as they may look favorably on a chance to get their film shown,” Bill wrote. “I actually did this when I contacted the makers of one of the films for my program, Much Better Now (a short animation directed by Philipp Comarella and Simon Griesser) and they not only provided us with a high-resolution copy of their film but sent us a bunch of promotional material as well.” He explained, “We want the kids who come to the event to discover something new; a new idea, a new talent, or a new way of looking at things.”

School librarians also benefit from film study guides and other types of resources as they engage in innovative practices. In reflecting upon the learning experience, Emily Ziemba, who works in a school library, noted that she has a newfound appreciation for the value of practical film guides that help promote active discussion. She realized how much students value the opportunity to find and select video resources in the same way they select from print sources. In her reflection essay, she wrote, “It doesn’t just have to just be books! My school has a subscription to Discovery Education where I taught them how to find videos that would help them learn about their topic.”


For example, Emily was thrilled when a student who wrote about Eva Peron used a clip from Evita, a 1996 musical created by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. She explained that another student did a report about Latin American music and included snippets of Jennifer Lopez portraying Tejano music star Selena in the musical drama directed by Gregory Nava. “It kills me to think she could have done this project and written a research paper without ever actually listening to music! These theatrical elements added so much to their projects.” 

Learn more about other best practices of film & media literacy education in public, school and academic libraries:

Hobbs, R., Deslauriers, L. & Steager, P. (2019). The Library Screen Scene: Film and Media Literacy in Schools, Colleges and Communities. New York: Oxford University Press.

In one assignment entitled “Movies that Made a Difference in My Life,” students composed a short memoir that takes readers back to consider some movies, videos or television shows that shaped their childhood or young adult years.


By using an authentic personal voice along with rich descriptive writing, students consider why a particular work was meaningful and how it may have affected personal and social identity.


One student described her love for The Princess Bride, the 1987 romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, which appealed to her for its combination of traditional fairy tale elements with surprises like “rodents of unusual size.”


But it wasn’t just the film that made a difference in her film—it was the viewing context that is intimately associated with family and loved ones that made it so memorable. Watching it with her family members, eating popcorn in bed, and eventually being able to quote the lines verbatim as a form of verbal play made it all the more special.

Movies and Memories 

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