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South Dakota State Library Services

A list of services provided by the South Dakota State Library.

Digital Literacy

What is digital literacy?

The American Library Association's Digital Literacy Task Force defines digital literacy as "the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills."  Digital literacy - just like reading or mathematics - is a skill that can be taught and improved with time, mentorship, and practice.

As the world around us becomes ever-more technology-focused, libraries act as important hubs of technology use.  Libraries today have a critical role not only in providing appropriate access to the technology tools that their patrons need but also to the digital literacy skills in order to use those tools effectively and responsibly.

 

What digital literacy services should my library provide?

As you brainstorm what kind of digital literacy services you would like to provide, consider these questions about your library and patrons:

  • What is your role in the library, and how does that role interact with technology?
  • What does your patron population look like?  What are their technology needs that you have noticed?
  • Is there a population of people you would like to draw to your library?  What might their technology needs be?
  • What kinds of technology services, classes, and programs do you currently offer?  Are there any others you would like to offer in the future?
  • What kinds of technology services, classes, and programs have you seen provided at other libraries that you would like to implement in your library?
  • What are your digital literacy goals?  What would you like your patrons to take away from your digital literacy services?
  • What digital literacy resources can you provide your patrons?

Use these questions to find what digital literacy services are needed at your library.  Reaching out to your current patrons, community leaders, other community organizations, and members of the population you would like to reach is also a good way to find what digital literacy services your library could provide.  The best way to get to know the needs of your patrons is often by asking them directly!

 

What are some examples of digital literacy services my library could provide?

There are almost limitless possibilities on what digital literacy services a library could provide.  As technology changes and grows, those possibilities also change and grow!  These are just a few examples to help you start thinking about the types of digital literacy services a library could provide:

  • Providing parent resources and a program on safe online communication skills for kids.
  • Providing resources and a program on how to change privacy settings on websites and platforms, such as social media (ex: Facebook, Instagram).
  • Hosting a workshop about appropriate online behavior and etiquette.
  • Providing resources and a program on popular online scams and how to stay safe online.
  • Teaching a program on how to search and/or do research online or through databases.
  • Establishing a coding club - check out SDSL's coding club information to set up coding clubs for grades 3 - 12.
  • Teaching a program on basic computer, device, and software use.

These are just a handful of ways to incorporate digital literacy services into your library.  Digital literacy services can also come in many forms - programs, workshops, handouts, and more.  If you would like additional assistance in creating digital literacy services, please contact SDSL's Library Technology Coordinator, Cheyenne Chontos, at cheyenne.chontos@state.sd.us.

 

How can I find digital literacy resources?

This page offers many credible digital literacy resources for both you, your staff, your board/trustees, and your patrons.  Click on the tabs to find the resources that best meet your needs.

 

If you have a specific question regarding digital literacy or technology in your library, please contact SDSL's Library Technology Coordinator, Cheyenne Chontos, at cheyenne.chontos@state.sd.us

Assessments

The topic of digital literacy can often feel overwhelming.  It can be difficult to figure out where to start.  Digital literacy assessments are helpful tools for finding what your digital literacy strengths currently are, any digital literacy gaps that you have, and goals to improve your digital literacy.  The digital literacy assessments below are free and cover a wide array of technology and digital literacy topics.  Taking the time to complete these assessments will help guide you on your digital literacy journey.

Technology Reference Interview

Helping patrons on their digital literacy journey can also feel overwhelming at times.  A technology reference interview can help you meet the needs of your patrons without feeling overwhelmed or confused.  The resources below give practical advice on how to conduct a successful technology reference interview.

Computer skills are important part of digital literacy.  Having the necessary computer skills allows library staff and patron the ability to use computers effectively, safely, and responsibly.  People use the computer for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Schoolwork
  • Research
  • College or career preparation
  • Job or volunteer seeking
  • Professional development
  • Social connection

While many people understand how important technology is for their day-to-day lives, they may still feel overwhelmed by the many computer skills needed in order to use technology effectively.  The resources below have information for both library staff and patrons on how to enhance their computer skills and overall digital literacy.

Understanding how to use the different software and programs on the computer is almost as important as knowing how to use the computer itself.  One of the best places to learn more about a specific software or program is on the company's website, where they often offer support or a page of Frequently Asked Questions.  If there is a specific program or software that you need assistance in finding resources for, please contact the Library Technology Coordinator, Cheyenne Chontos, at cheyenne.chontos@state.sd.us.

Below are resources on some of the most popular and commonly used software and programs on library computers.  These courses are perfect for library patrons or library staff who are either beginners or looking to learn a little bit more about various software and programs.

While the internet has allowed more information to become readily available, not everything found on the internet is true or factual.  It can be difficult to distinguish the difference between a credible source and a fake one.  This is especially true if we already believe whatever the source is telling us - this is called confirmation bias.  Social media has made the spreading of fake news and disinformation easier and faster than ever.  As librarians, we want our patrons to have access to correct, factual information.

Here's the good news - with practice, mindful reading, and a critical eye, you can distinguish the difference between a genuine source and a fake one.  The resources below include practical tips and ideas on how to ensure that what you're reading is true and how to stop the spread of false information.

Many people use the computer every day for a variety of reasons - from using our email to looking for jobs to connecting on social media.  Technology plays an important role in many peoples' lives, so it is important that they know how to use it effectively, safely, and responsibly.  The resources below give guidance on how to use technology in our daily lives.  These are great resources for those who are new to using technology in their daily lives or who are new to a particular skill, such as career searching.

Safety, Security, and Privacy

Technology can make our lives easier in so many ways.  It can connect us to friends, present us with new job opportunities, and teach us new skills - and that's just the beginning!  However, it is important to keep in mind that technology and the internet also open us to being vulnerable in new ways.  The resources below include information on how to stay safe online and how to protect your privacy as much as possible.

Copyright, Plagiarism, and Fair Use

When we use the internet to connect with others and with different ideas, we often also come across items that we might want to share or use.  It is important to understand copyright, plagiarism, and fair use in order to respect the creators of content and to follow the law.  As responsible members of the digital world, it is important to follow these laws and understand how best to interact with the content we find online.  These resources provide information on Creative Commons and copyright laws.

Physical and Mental Health and Safety

While technology provides us with many benefits, it is important to take breaks and properly care for our mental and physical health.  It is also important that libraries provide physical spaces that are comfortable, accessible, and safe for patrons to use while utilizing the computer or internet.  These resources include tips and advice on how to stay physically and mentally well while using technology.

As the world around us becomes ever-more technology-focused, libraries act as important hubs of technology use.  Libraries today have a critical role not only in providing appropriate access to the technology tools that their patrons need but also to the digital literacy skills in order to use those tools effectively and responsibly.

With how wide-reaching and quickly changing technology can be, teaching digital literacy can, at times, feel like an impossibly overwhelming task.  Where do you even begin?  Below are resources specifically designed for librarians on teaching digital literacy skills to patrons.  If you have other questions about teaching digital literacy skills to patrons or need assistance finding additional teaching resources, please reach out to the Library Technology Coordinator, Cheyenne Chontos, at cheyenne.chontos@state.sd.us.