At the end of November, 10 Moldovan librarians attended a 2-day study visit to Latvia, to explore new ideas and skills in supporting media literacy through libraries and enhancing communication strategies in the communities they serve.
Having previously been trained in media literacy and in organizing media corners in libraries within the Strengthening Independent Media and Media Literacy in Moldova (SIMML, funded by the Department of State and implemented by IREX Europe in cooperation with Novateca), the participants gained insight on teaching users to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate information in a variety of forms.
The librarians, representing both rural and raion libraries, visited the National Library of Latvia, as an institution providing services related to information science, and therefore playing a key role in educating users on how to discern facts and objective media from fiction, manipulation and propaganda. The Latvian National Library has developed specialized programs for children, to develop critical thinking skills, such as picture story interpretations and analysis for toddlers, and fairy tales told from alternative points of view for preschoolers and grade-schoolers, accompanied by theatrical plays.
“Working with library young users in media literacy requires a different, more interactive and playful approach. However, in all our activities we teach children how to ask questions, and we empower them to be in control of the information they receive”, pointed out the Head of the Children’s Department at the National Library of Latvia. In addition, in order to contribute to a more literate young generation, the National Library supports several reading development programs, such as The Children’s Jury, Reading Aloud, and Family Saturdays (for more information access https://lnb.lv/en).
During a visit to the Baltic Center for Media Excellence (BCME) librarians received first-hand expertise in media literacy from a leading NGO specialized in this area, working in the Baltics and Eastern Partnership. Rita Rudusa, BCME Director, stressed that when approaching media education, the librarian must put him or herself both in the shoes of the media content producer as well as the consumer.
“The librarian must ask who is writing and who is paying for this content, as well as whom does this content target? One must understand that media will always imply a commercial or a political aspect that the user must be aware in order to correctly interpret the information,” mentioned Solvita Denisa-Liepniece, Principal Advisor for Media Literacy Projects.
BCME representatives provided useful tips and tools on how to teach media literacy to various age groups, such as radio programs for seniors, fact checking for adults, comics for teenagers, and fairy tales for children. In this context, librarians learned about “Pilna Doma” and “Wolf the Manipulator” – two media literacy programs designed for teenagers and children (for more information access https://baltic.media/).
Besides studying the Latvian experience in promoting media literacy, Moldovan librarians had the opportunity to see how a PR and Communication Department works in a library, specifically how to shape a library’s communication strategy and media plan, developed a corporate identity, engage users in library activities and support events.
At the end of the visit, they went to the Moldovan Embassy in Latvia where they had a meeting with the Ambassador Eugene Revenco.
The Moldovan librarians returned inspired and eager to expand further their media literacy services to children and toddlers, applying all the numerous resources and tips received from the Latvian experts.
This visit was organized by the Novateca Program of IREX Moldova, in partnership with the IREX Europe’s Strenthgening Independent Media and Media Literacy Project and the Baltic Center For Media Excellence.