Learning Plans & Activities
Merging Print and Digital Literacies

Are teacher librarians important when ubiquitous devices mean every student at any time can "just Google it"? Are teacher librarians, or even libraries, obsolete?

In the fluidly progressive digital environment present today, teacher librarians do well to be proactive, rather than reactive, in their teaching of research skills. Through persistently merging "legacy" information literacy skills with emerging digital literacies teacher librarians can, in fact, enable genuine progress in student achievement measured not just in test scores but in building lifelong research methodologies and critical thinking skills that prepare students to respond with confidence to new information demands.

One part of the multifaceted research process is selecting, evaluating, and citing sources. Introducing and reinforcing sources skills can be accomplished by carrying over applicable print skills that can form the basis of, or segue to, new digital skills.

For example, each of the skills listed in the table below could be an information literacy mini-lesson, though which ones you focus on will depend on factors of time, focus, grade level, and language and learning (dis)abilities.

Standards, Concepts, Strategies and Skills for Sources of Information


Good sources are physically and intellectually available

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) CCSS.ELA.W.9-10.8. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question…avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation. (English Language Arts Standards, 2018)

Model School Library Standards (MSLS), grades 9-12

  • Standard 1: Students Access Information, 1.3.a, 1.3.b, 1.3.d, 1.3.f, 1.3.j, 1.3.k
  • Standard 2: Students Evaluate Information, 2.2.a, 2.2.c

1. Sources CONCEPTS

  • Pre-search to research: Locate available and readable print and digital sources that support your subtopics before you begin research.
  • Information ownership thwarts plagiarism: Rather than copying/pasting (plagiarizing), the student engages information from a variety of print and digital sources so that while the information itself does not change, it is a) blended with information from many sources and b) processed and used in a new way to solve a research task.
  • Sources and Formats:
    • Sources: Anything and everything used for research where you find ideas, information, and images.
    • Formats: There are many different formats (kinds) of print and non-print/digital sources.


3. Sources SKILLS

Print and Digital



4. Sources SKILLS

3.1. Print location skills

  • Learn the library: sections, signage, shelf labels
  • Dewey Decimal System
  • Call tags and call numbers

2.1. Location/search skills are used to find specific print or digital sources

4.1. Digital location skills

  • Search terms
  • Topic/subtopic synonyms
  • Boolean search: Use and, or, not to expand or limit a search

3.2. Print triangulating skills

  • Nonfiction: library books and textbooks
    • Table of Contents: front of book
    • Index: back of book
    • Glossary, if available
    • Visual cues: bolded or italicized words, color boxes with text
  • References: encyclopedias, etc.
    • Guide words
    • Index
    • Visual cues: bolded or italicized words
  • Journals, periodicals, etc.
  • Visual sources: images, maps, charts/graphs, etc.
    • Image captions
    • Types of maps: legends
    • Types of charts/graphs: data

2.2. Triangulate by using any combination of a minimum of three print and digital sources for basic research. Add more sources as time and source availability allows.

4.2. Digital triangulating skills

  • Nonfiction eBooks/Digital textbooks
    • Table of Contents
    • Index
    • Glossary: select/click in-text words
    • Visual cues: bolded subtitles, sections, image captions, etc.
  • Online sources: library OPAC search, websites, reference websites, library and reference apps, online databases, encyclopedias, search engines, images, audio files, etc.
    • Top headers/dropdown menus
    • Sidebar menu
    • Tabs, fields, buttons
    • Embedded text/image "hot" links
    • Visual cues: bolded/italicized words, color boxes, charts/graphs
  • Caution: Blogs and wikis do not meet source evaluation criteria.

3.3. Print citing skills

  • Handwrite citations to understand different citation information for different formats (types) of print sources
  • Compile and handwrite all citations and attributions into an alphabetical list

2.3. Cite all print and digital sources used for information, ideas, and images.

  • Citation style such as MLA or APA
  • Creative Commons attribution, as needed.
  • Works Cited list or bibliography
  • In-text citations, endnotes

4.3. Digital citing skills

  • Online citation creator for print and digital sources
  • Type Creative Commons attributions
  • Word processor to alphabetically combine all citations and attributions

3.4. Print evaluating skills

  • Use evaluative criteria specific to certain print sources, if available.

2.4. Evaluate print and digital sources with general criteria such as CRAAP: currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, purpose.

4.4. Digital evaluating skills

  • Use evaluative criteria specific to certain digital sources, if available.
  • Beware of "fake news" and fake websites that do not meet evaluation criteria.

3.5. Print categories of sources

  • Print primary sources include letters, diaries, speeches, audio recordings, art objects, interviews, photographs, etc.
  • Print secondary sources include books, newspapers, periodicals and journals, etc.
  • Print tertiary sources include references such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and indexes.

2.5. Understand categories of print and digital sources including primary, secondary, and tertiary.

4.5. Digital categories of sources

  • Digital primary sources: letters, diaries, speeches, audio recordings, art object images, taped interviews, photographs, etc.
  • Digital secondary sources include eBooks, eNewspapers, online periodicals and journals, etc.
  • Digital tertiary sources include online references such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and directories.

Excerpted from Practical Steps to Digital Research: Strategies and Skills for School Libraries by Deborah B. Stanley.

Today's rapidly diversifying digital world provides easy access to information, making it increasingly important that students know how to conduct research online. In this book, you'll learn how to transition your instruction of the research process from a print context to a digital one, and to expand your own knowledge of how to best assist students at all stages of their research.

This hands-on approach to teaching digital research skills breaks down each research skill into simple, targeted steps that enable students to research more deeply and to accomplish real-world tasks.

Practical Steps to Digital Research: Strategies and Skills for School Libraries is available from Libraries Unlimited

About the Author

Deborah B. Stanley is a retired teacher librarian with 26 years' experience in school libraries at elementary, middle, and high schools in Central and Southern California. She is the author of three Libraries Unlimited titles: Practical Steps to the Research Process for Elementary Schools, Practical Steps to the Research Process for Middle Schools, and Practical Steps to the Research Process for High Schools. She maintains two websites on the research process and the research process in a digital world, respectively. She was awarded the highest honor for lifetime achievement by the California School Library Association.

MLA Citation Stanley, Deborah B. "Merging Print and Digital Literacies." School Library Connection, November 2018, schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2180587?topicCenterId=1955261&tab=1.

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Entry ID: 2180587

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