An IFLA workshop at the 2021 Asia-Pacific regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) explored the way libraries help support digital literacy-building in their communities — to help safeguard their online wellbeing, safety and trust.

Did you know that…

  • Queensland public libraries and Indigenous Centers in Australia have run around 12,000 digital inclusion programs – with 78,000 participants and attendees?
  • The Tech Age Girl (TAG) program, implemented through READ Centers in Nepal, estimates that every 10 girls who follow the TAG training in digital literacy and leadership can then help train up to 100 more community members, creating multiplier and cascade impacts?
  • The S.U.R.E campaign of the Singapore National Library Board helps raise awareness and offer information literacy skills-building opportunities – and includes dedicated segments for youth (S.U.R.E for School), working adults (S.U.R.E. for Work), seniors and the wider public (S.U.R.E. for Life)?

The workshop at APrIGF 2021, led by Winston Roberts (Chair of the IFLA Regional Division Committee for Asia-Oceania), explored these and other library experiences with digital and information literacy-building initiatives in the region.

An intervention by Louise Denoon (the State Library of Queensland) illustrated how the libraries there have pursued an evidence-based approach to digital inclusion work. The available data, as well as collaboration with community and stakeholder groups outside of the library, has helped create interventions tailored to the different needs of various user groups. For example, digital inclusion services for First Nations People emphasise digital sovereignty, ownership and relevant applications and uses of ICT.

A presentation by Gita Thapa (Nepal Library Association) helped highlight the many dimensions of digital and information literacy work in Nepal – from basic computer literacy and use of apps and social media to online safety and digital content creation. It also helped put forward suggestions on ways to further expand this work – such as more digital skills training for librarians and building more collaborations between libraries and ICT professionals.

An intervention by Sara Pek (National Library Board of Singapore — NLB) drew attention to the fast pace of technological evolution, which requires new sets of skills for users to effectively engage with this diversity. NLB’s S.U.R.E program was launched in 2013 and has since leveraged a wide range of tools and formats to offer information literacy learning opportunities to as many community members as possible. Targeted outreach programs, partnerships with stakeholders like the Ministry of Education and Labour Unions, and other intervention formats — like exhibitions and library-produced learning content — are all part of NLB’s arsenal in supporting information and digital literacy.

The session also offered the library representatives and participants the room to reflect on what ‘Information Society’ means for them today, what external stakeholders libraries have – or could – collaborate with to support digital literacy, and what dimensions of digital wellbeing need to be carefully considered in such interventions.

You can access the full session recording on APrIGF’s Youtube channel, and read more about the 2021 APrIGF outcomes on the Forum’s synthesis document!