The Image Resources Interest Group
of ACRL announced a couple months ago that they will soon be developing Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. This will be a 4 member team doing much of the work, but they are seeking outside input through an interdisciplinary VL Advisory Group.
The VL Task Force will hold an open meeting at ALA on Sunday, June 27, 10:30-12:00, and I plan on attending.
I believe the potential significance of these standards can not be underestimated. While other national organizations have been quick to focus on aural/visual/media literacy concepts, such as the National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), the Consortium of Colleges and Universities Media Centers (CCUMC), and Educause/New Media Consortium (NMC) partnerships, ALA and ACRL in particular, have been slow to adapt to the multimodal information environment we live in today.
Though the 2006 ACRL Guidelines for Media Resources
mention support for visual and media literacy the focus is strongly on the collection, and only one sentence of the document even eludes to concepts of visual and media literacy (sec. 5.5), without so much as a definition.
It should also be noted that one of the outcomes of the 1999 ACRL Information Literacy Standards, specifically mentions multiple forms of information (standard 1; performance indicator 2 (c)
), though not many resources have been provided from ACRL to assist practitioners with implementing programming, nor has awareness been at the forefront of ALA, (except for media groups such as the Media/Image Interests Resource Group, and the Video Round Table (VRT) of ALA):
"Identifies the value and differences of potential resources in a variety
of formats (e.g., multimedia, database, website, data set,
While I appreciate these guidelines and inclusion in the IL Standards, I believe the power of formal visual literacy (and inevitably, multimedia) standards will hopefully, help raise the collective level of consciousness on the importance, value, and means by which multimodal production and consumption are necessary skill sets in the 21st century, and the potential they play in engaged learning.
For more information on visual literacy, please consult the International Visual Literacy Association
(IVLA) and the AT&T white paper on Visual Literacy