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Why Librarians Care about Film & Media 

Who doesn’t have a love-hate relationship with modern technology and media? Those who work with children and youth are concerned about the effects they have on healthy development, and families without ready access to technology or elders who came late to the show are concerned about being left behind.


Public librarians help people make good choices for work, life, and citizenship in our digital age. Increasingly, whole-school integration of media literacy is supporting the educational and socio-emotional needs of young learners. 

As librarians take on the challenge of teaching information literacy in a world where photo manipulation and fake news are rampant, the value of using photos and audiovisual content in more explicit ways becomes evident. 

In CHAPTER 1, we identify how librarians: 

  • Harness the emotional power of film for learning

  • Elevate movies and video in the library

  • Develop strategies for advancing film & media literacy programs

  • Recognize the value of media as a part of library leadership

Core Practices of Film & Media in Libraries


We want to ensure that film and media literacy education are part of the future of librarianship. 

In this book, we offer 170 examples of film and media programs as a means to capture the diversity of practices that we found in school, public and academic libraries. At the center of it all is a constellation of competencies: viewing, collecting, creating, learning, and connecting.


These competencies can be developed through formal and informal learning activities of all kinds. In school, public and academic libraries, a variety of programs, services and instructional practices support the development of these competencies:


VIEWING: Film and media screenings and programs that focus on sharing interpretations through discussion help create a sense of community and special events that feature filmmakers and local experts provide commentary and context that deepen interpretation and promote intellectual curiosity.


CREATING: People can inspire, inform and entertain through a variety of low-tech and high-tech media creation experiences. Whether librarians help people of all ages to create or they themselves create using media, they expand the concept of literacy to advance self-expression, empowerment and civic engagement.


LEARNING: Learning to analyze the content and format of audiovisual media takes practice and this begins with the process of learning to read picture books. Photographs, documentaries and visual images may seem real but they need to be interrogated with a critical eye just as print information sources must be.


COLLECTING: People make choices about what to view and use and today, curation can be understood as a literacy practice. The use of ratings and reviews can be valuable tools to support wise decision-making. Librarians make key decisions about what resources to showcase and acquire and some even develop viewer’s advisory services to recommend TV shows, movies, video games and more.


CONNECTING: Librarians are change agents in their communities. They use the power of moving image media to tell the story of their programs, collections and services. Through community partnerships, librarians bring the emotional power of film and media to wide and diverse audiences and magnify the opportunity for community dialogue and discussion that advances cultural understanding and the democratic process.

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.

At the Mark Day School in San Rafael, California, elementary school is an intentionally designed learning community, where people can feel comfortable trying new things, asking questions, and making mistakes.


Under the leadership of headmaster Joe Harvey and with support from Bonnie Nishihara, a longtime advocate for media and information literacy, the school has built a Learning Commons and Creativity Lab, a new campus space that enables the library to function as a multimedia learning center. 


This school is replete with creative approaches to integrating media and information literacy into the curriculum. It’s a priority for the school librarian and technology specialist, of course, but it’s also significant for many teachers and department heads. 


Whole School Integration 

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