All posts by Barbie Keiser

It’s Fair Use Week (@FairUseWeek)

This week, February 20-24, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of #FairUseWeek. Fair use and fair dealing are essential concepts for students and educators to appreciate. Patent, trademark, and copyright laws protect intellectual property. If we were to prohibit the use of all intellectual property, there would be limited inventions, innovations, creativity, and scholarship.

So, how can you determine when you can legally use someone’s work without permission? Four factors should be considered when deciding whether fair use applies, as illustrated in the accompanying graphic.

Have you ever searched for an image using Google? In that case, you may have noticed that each image displayed is accompanied by a statement, “Images may be subject to copyright.” Click on “Learn More,” and Google takes you to a support page offering legal answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about copyright and fair use.

If you need clarification on whether using someone else’s work is permissible, ask how honest, fair-minded persons would handle the situation. Would reasonable persons agree with your approach? If not, here are a few guidelines to follow:

    • Consider whether you can pare a long quote and still be able to make your point in class.
    • Consider whether your use might have an impact on the interests of the copyright holder? For example, should you copy your entire textbook and share it with another student, or consider another route?
    • Fully acknowledge all sources. This is why its important to learn how to cite references correctly.

What is “fair use”?

As the Fair Use Week website reminds us: “Fair use and fair dealing are essential limitations and exceptions to copyright, allowing the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances.” These flexible doctrines allow “copyright to adapt to new technologies,” facilitating a balance in “copyright law, promoting further progress and accommodating freedom of speech and expression.”

Fair use allows students to quote portions of the work of others in their essays and term papers, instructors to play excerpts of videos in the classroom, and journalists to use snippets in news reports. The concept protects free speech while fulfilling one of the purposes of copyright: to promote creative expression.

To gain a better understanding of fair use as the term is applied in copyright law, and what fair use contributes to the economy, innovation, and creativity, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) created an infographic, Fair Use Fundamentals.

Celebrations this week

Celebrations designed to highlight and promote the opportunities presented by fair use and fair dealing, celebrate successful stories, and explain these doctrines are abundant. For example, on Thursday, February 23, you could choose to spend your lunch hour (well, 1,5 hours, from 12:00-1:30) attending the online/virtual event followed by a panel discussion sponsored by the Metropolitan New York Library Council and Library Futures, Why does copyright and fair use matter for libraries and librarians?

More on fair use

The Copyright Alliance has a series of short videos on its Trending Topics subsite about the fair use doctrine, the four fair use factors, common fair use mistakes, and how to apply fair use today. The webpage concludes with a set of links to fair use blogs + six cases that explore the bounds of fair use.

Many library associations and academic libraries feature LibGuides on copyright and fair use. Examples of these include:

NOVA Librarian Julie Combs manages a research guide on copyright and fair use to remind faculty about the importance of observing copyright law and understanding how the four factors of fair use might apply to their teaching and any research they conduct.

Test your knowledge

How much do you know about the Fair Use Doctrine? Test your knowledge at the University of Colorado Boulder Library by reviewing two examples of fair use or its interactive quiz, “Is it Fair Use? It Depends!”

Oregon State University’s Copyright and Fair Use resource guide includes a worksheet to help you decide if your use of someone’s copyrighted work is “fair use.”

It’s National News Literacy Week (#NewsLiteracyWeek)!

According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, there is a general lack of faith in societal institutions. Edelman recommends becoming an advocate for the truth: “Be a source of reliable information, promote civil discourse, and hold false information sources accountable.” How does one do this? RumorGuard identifies five factors for evaluating credibility of social media posts:

    • Is it authentic?
    • Was it posted and confirmed by a credible source?
    • Is evidence presented that proves the claim?
    • Is the context clear?
    • Is it based on solid reasoning, free of biases?

News literacy is an essential life skill

NOVA students often turn to the news media as they collect facts and information to support essay theses and write their term papers. Making sure that students know how to access authoritative sources is reinforced in library instruction and information literacy sessions conducted by NOVA librarians.

This year’s National News Literacy Week celebrations begin on January 23. There are a series of web-based events scheduled, including:

January 23, 5-6PM – Critical reading to identify credible evidence: Conversation with Dr. Jeff Wilhelm, Boise University, about his forthcoming book, Fighting Fake News: Teaching Students to Identify and Interrogate Information Pollution. REGISTER

January 23, 6-7PM – We regret the error: Public trust and media accountability. REGISTER

January 26, 1-2PM – Celebrate National News Literacy Week with Teens for Press Freedom. REGISTER

January 26, 2-3PM – Your brain and misinformation: Why people believe lies and conspiracy theories. REGISTER

If you need to time shift, the National News Literacy Week 2023 YouTube channel will carry updates.

Choosing to read (for pleasure)

How will you use the extended break between the fall 2022 and the spring 2023 semesters? This time can be used productively, preparing for coursework next semester, or learning a new language (try the Mango Languages database. NOVA librarians recommend that you choose to read for pleasure.

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Why read for pleasure

Research  frequently explores the positive effects of reading for pleasure for children and adolescents; fewer studies address the emotional, social, and psychological benefits derived by adults who regularly choose to read for pleasure. Adults attribute increased vocabulary and general knowledge, better text comprehension, improved grammar and writing abilities, and greater self-confidence to their regular reading habits. Beyond this, research  shows that reading reduces stress and relaxes. It’s why many doctors encourage adults to turn off their screens and curl up with a book to feel calm, reduce depressive thoughts, and get a well-earned rest at the end of the day. Also, reading can increase your empathy for others around you.

What to read

Choosing what to read can be daunting, but there are places to turn that can assist you. During the fall of each year, various organizations announce the authors winning awards for their work, including:

  • The Nobel Prize for Literature is arguably the most prestigious of annual awards.  
  • The Booker Prize for the best novel published in English and published in the UK or Ireland is better known for the “shortlist” of books announced to be in contention for the annual award.
  • The National Book Foundation awards is the premier American prize recognizing literary excellence.

Various institutions use the possibility of gifting books at Christmastime to announce lists of the “best” books of the year. Each organization has its own way of selecting what’s “best” or otherwise limiting their choices by subject. For example:

  • Libraries rely on Publishers Weekly for announcements of publications they should include on their shelves. The publication compiles a list each year, so check out their list of the top 10 in each category (fiction, mystery/thriller, poetry, romance, SciFi/fantasy/horror, comics, nonfiction, religion, etc.).
  • Throughout the year, the New York Times publishes lists of the best-selling books of the week in their weekly Book Review section.  On November 29, the Times will announce their annual 10 Best Books in two categories (fiction and nonfiction) plus 100 Notable Books of 2022.
  • The Washington Post’s selection of the “top ten.”
  • Lifelong learning site Headway Media has a blog for books categorized in unusual ways: Best books for men to read, CEOs, Strategy books, self-improvement, building confidence. Surely one of the many lists will interest NOVA students.
  • The New Yorker
  • NPR (formerly known as National Public Radio) compiles lists of books by subject, including comics/graphic novels, art, history, music, sports, historical fiction, love stories, mysteries/thrillers, nonfiction, SciFi/fantasy, science, short stories/essays/poetry, young adult, and more. If you’re still undecided about what to read, the NPR book review team polls the organization’s staff for their recommendations. Surely, one title will be perfect for you!

The NOVA librarians use these lists to verify their selection of books acquired throughout the year, so you’ll find many of these titles on our shelves already. If you’re still uncertain, check with a Reference Librarian on your campus for advice!

Editor’s Note: For additional ideas about “best books” or “great reads,” check out last December’s blog, How to find a book to read

What books are you reading during inter-session?


September 18-24, 2022, is Banned Books Week! This Year’s Theme: “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”

In 2021, there were 729 attempts to censor library resources, targeting 1,597 books.” In the first eight months of this year, the American Library Association (ALA) “documented 681 attempts to ban or restrict library resources, and 1,651 unique titles were targeted.”

Public officials and parent organizations have compiled lists of books they want off the shelves of school and public libraries. In the past, these groups targeted textbooks; today, the target are young adult books often featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists, Blacks, Indigenous people, or Persons of Color. As a result of these divisive campaigns, libraries across the country are closing.

Several communities have voted to defund public libraries, “putting a moratorium on library purchases.” School librarians have resigned after being “harassed and intimidated” by local boards and parent groups. The Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned program offers a unique solution, making e-books and audiobooks available to teens around the country for free.

What is Banned Books Week?

Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign celebrating the freedom to read. Launched by the American Library Association and Amnesty International in 1982, Banned Books Week brings together all who value free and open access to information, including librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers. The week is intended to draw attention to banned and challenged books. Many organizations hold in-person and online events during Banned Books Week that highlight the ramifications of book banning.

The top 10 challenged books in 2021 were:

  1. Gender Queerby Maia Kobabe
  2. Lawn Boyby Jonathan Evison
  3. All Boys Aren’t Blueby George M. Johnson
  4. Out of Darknessby Ashley Hope Perez
  5. The Hate U Giveby Angie Thomas
  6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indianby Sherman Alexie
  7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girlby Jesse Andrews
  8. The Bluest Eyeby Toni Morrison
  9. This Book is Gayby Juno Dawson
  10. Beyond Magentaby Susan Kuklin

Lists of Challenged and Banned Books over the past decade are available on the ALA website. PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022) is available via Google Docs.

Unite Against Book Bans

There are many ways to voice your opposition to censorship and book banning. Unite Against Book Bans offers suggestions that include a Toolkit with talking points and contact information for expressing your views to state and local officials and media.

Resources to help librarians, educators, and students understand the consequences of book bans include posters, handbooks, manuals, discussion guides, and censorship action kits.  The last few resources on this webpage offer places for individuals and organizations to report censorship.

Events around the country advocate for the freedom to read in various ways, including virtual events. You can find a roundup of thought-provoking webinars during which you can learn how to fight for inclusive education and defend your right to read in this Banned Books Week calendar of events.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)… and why you should care

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets out 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition to teaching and researching sustainable development, many colleges and universities now have Offices of Sustainability. These offices are charged with building awareness about the SDGs and changing operations to support the goal of becoming net carbon-neutral campuses. Examples of these efforts include:

  • New, energy-efficient buildings may use renewable energy and have gardens on their roofs.
  • Encouraging the use of electric vehicles by installing electric charging stations, rewarding car-pooling, providing campus buses, and making the campus bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly.

Academic librarians and campus facilities engineers collaborate to make their libraries greener and eco-friendly. LEED architecture for new building design, and retrofits for existing structures, are becoming more commonplace as librarians provide input on library construction projects. According to Green Libraries, there are 42 green libraries listed in the United States and Canada, with more under construction.

Libraries support UN SDGs

Libraries address sustainable development through traditional activities and innovative SD initiatives. For example, as librarians consider the inclusive nature of their collections, they turn to independent booksellers and small presses to find more diverse titles. Academic libraries are inspecting catalog records for the use of outdated and inappropriate terminology in subject headings (e.g., replacing “Aliens” with “Noncitizens”). Some libraries are examining their archival holdings for collections to share about historical injustice, such as Syracuse University Libraries Special Collections Research Center’s new digital exhibition, A Courageous Stand: The Story of the Syracuse 8, about “a group of Black student-athletes who boycotted the University football program until it addressed their allegations of racism in 1970” (Hatem, 2021).

Academic libraries are creating research guides dealing with the SDGs, such as the University of Michigan’s effort to document resources for conducting SDG research. Other libraries develop research guides for individual sustainable development goals, such as the University of South Florida LibGuide on diversity, equity, and inclusion and the Resisting Racism Research Guide from the University of Washington. The NOVA librarians have created an antiracism guide.

Libraries as social agents for development

Libraries promote the good health and well-being of their communities (Schofield, n.d.). During the pandemic, many libraries distributed food and masks and acted as COVID testing and inoculation sites. NOVA hosted multiple vaccine clinics across the campuses and NOVA Libraries distributed free masks to students. (If you need one, just stop by a Reference or Circulation desk.)

Exemplary Practice: The Sustainable Libraries Initiative creates awareness of the library ecosystem and libraries’ role as sustainability leaders in their communities. The project offers professional development opportunities for library staff to become certified Sustainability Coordinators. The website features libraries that have found ways to reduce energy, redirect waste, and increase collaborations with other groups.

“More than 90 percent of academic institutions have affordable learning initiatives” (Rea, p. 9). At the institutional level, these initiatives include reduced tuition and greater flexibility in the time allotted to complete courses required for graduating with a degree. Libraries participate by assuring fair access to resources, eliminating fees for access to research and fines for the return of overdue material. “The coronavirus pandemic has taken a financial toll on college students and sped up the process of going fines free” (Chung, 2021). The NOVA libraries “do not currently charge fines for items that are overdue.”

During the pandemic, academic libraries were the logical choice to spearhead efforts by colleges to loan laptops, iPads, Chromebooks, and hotspots to students whose classes had shifted online. Since libraries already loan books, it was simply a matter of sourcing the technology from Information Technology (IT) departments. At NOVA, the college introduced the Laptop Loaner Program where students could request and borrow a laptop for the duration of the semester, free of charge.

NOVA and sustainable development

NOVA’s Sustainability Office coordinate’s the college’s energy, environment, and sustainability initiatives. The Office hosts a webpage of sustainability ideas.  If you’ve got an idea, email Rob Johnson, NOVA’s Director of Sustainability. The website offers a number of suggested ways in which students, faculty, and staff can volunteer for sustainable projects.

Educating for sustainability

NOVA students need not wait for an instructor to include a discussion of SDGs in their classes. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) offers free self-paced classes open to learners at any educational level. In addition to SDSN’s Global Schools Program, the SDG Academy creates and curates free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and educational materials on sustainable development and the SDGs ( or Consider it a down payment on your future.


Hatem, C. (2021, August 28). New digital exhibition features story of The Syracuse 8. Syracuse University Campus & Community.

Rea, A. (2021, October 21). LJ’s State of Academic Libraries Survey reveals challenges, priorities, Library Journal.

Schofield, A. (n.d.). Social workers and librarians—a case for why we are BFFs. ALA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion blog.

Assuring diversity of expertise

Instructors frequently ask students to consult scholarly publications to ensure they tap into the best minds available in each subject domain. Sometimes, this limits diversity of opinion. If your native language is not English or you reside in the Global South, the hurdles of getting published in top academic journals are difficult to overcome. There are, however, several websites and databases that actively see to include diverse perspectives and alternative viewpoints. For example:

Resources in our library

As Lisa Peet noted in her 2021 March 18 Library Journal article, Ithaka Library Director Survey on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Antiracism Reveals Disconnects, libraries are reassessing “their perspectives and strategies around diversity, equity, inclusion (EDI), and racism.” The NOVA libraries are no exception. Two databases in our collection stand out:

  • ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch includes newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press.
  • EBSCO’s LGBTQ+ Source database includes journals, newspapers, and books about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and allied subject matter.

NOVA’s Antiracism LibGuide helps students explore the history and conditions that led to the unrest of 2020 through books/e-books, articles, videos, and podcasts. The section of the LibGuide devoted to Tools for Taking Action provides a roadmap for those in the NOVA Community wishing to get involved.

Recommendations for faculty

To expand the range of non-white perspectives assigned to students, instructors might review the syllabi of courses taught at Tribal Colleges and Universities and Historically Black Colleges to see which texts assigned for courses similar to the ones they are teaching.

How to find a book to read

Students are assigned textbooks and other reading for their courses, but sometimes you just want a good book to read. It could be a recently published novel, or you might be working your way through a “Great Books” list. Here are some ways you can find a book in almost any genre you desire.

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End-of-year wrap-ups

Many newspapers and magazines use the end of the year as an excuse – as if they needed one – to publish their “must read” lists or the Best Books of <insert year here>. While NPR releases news about books, book reviews, and interviews with authors throughout the year but handpicks great reads each year.

The New York Times also publishes book reviews throughout the year. Each November, the paper releases its list of 100 Notable Books, followed by a live event identifying the 10 Best Books of <YEAR> selected from that list.

Publications issuing annual “best book” lists are terrific sources of inciteful book reviews throughout the year. Some of my favorites include:

Watching an interview with an author is another way to determine whether a book might interest you. Fresh Fiction can help you identify books and authors featured in national media. In addition to occasional appearances by an author on a newscast, authors are interviewed regularly on BookTV .

If you’re unsure whether you’d like a book and want to read a selection before you purchase the title (or visit the library to borrow it), you might consult BookSpot First Chapters. Don’t forget to use the left-hand navigation bar to identify other resources for book reviews and awards by genre.

Literary prize winners (and runner ups)

You might also turn to entities that award prizes to authors for their works each year. Don’t limit your search to the “winners” of this year or prior years’ as the finalists can sometimes be even better. Here are a few of the entities awarding authors for their works:

  • The Pulitzer Prize for Books includes fictional works, history, biography, poetry, and general non-fiction.
  • The Man Booker Prize is awarded to the best novel written in English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland.
  • The National Book Foundation celebrates American literature with its National Book Awards.
  • Each year, the National Book Critics Circle presents awards for the finest books published in English (in the USA) in six categories: Fiction, nonfiction, biography, autobiography, poetry, and criticism. encourages browsing for titles by genre, such as biography, classics, fiction, graphic novels, historical fiction, horror, memoir, nonfiction, romance, science fiction, thriller, and travel. There is also a list of Goodreads Choice Awards for the year’s best books in each genre. Then there’s Kobo with its best books, eBooks and audiobooks that define the year.

Book club choices

Book club online discussion groups are a great resource for finding new titles to read and assessing how others have enjoyed them. Some even include guides for conducting group discussions about the book that can be helpful for thoughtful readers. From FreeBookNotes, you’ll be able to link to study guides from SparkNotes, CliffNotes, BookRags, and more to help you understand the book you’ve selected to read.

Book review sites consulted by booksellers and librarians

Detailed abstracts, book summaries, or even a sample chapter may be available on:

  •, featuring detailed book reviews from many genres, including science-fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and more.
  • includes reviews, previews, “behind the book” backstories, author interviews, and research guides. Click the Read-Alikes tab in the top navigation bar. If you find a book you like, the editors will suggest books you are probably going to like equally as well.
  • contains book reviews and author interviews.
  • The Complete Review ( highlights “books in the news,” books “most worthy of your attention,” and foreign books not yet translated into English.
  • Curled Up with a Good Book ( includes reviews of fiction and non-fiction books, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, graphic novels, and audiobooks.
  • lets you download 10% of the text before purchase.
  • Shelf Awareness ( is a twice-weekly e-newsletter containing detailed abstracts and reviews of 25 recommended titles scheduled for release that week.
  • Ron Hogan’s blog ( often features new authors.
  • Track New Book ( helps you find new books related to the websites you visit, sending you an email as new books are published by authors you track (
  • Lovereading UK ( has online tools to help you choose your next read. The free membership site includes 10-15 page opening extracts and samples of audiobooks. Personalized newsletters cover the latest book recommendations in fiction and non-fiction.
  • Gnooks ( uses a Gnod engine to learn what an individual might like to read. Enter three authors you like and Gnooks will suggest what you should read next.
  • Complete the statement, “I’ve just finished reading __________ by _______” and The Book Seer ( will supply the answer.
  • WhichBook ( offers choices based on mood/emotion, plot shape, type of main character (by age, race, gender), or country in which the book is set.
  • FictionDB ( has extensive author bibliographies for the authors you like and want to read. You can even set up a “wish list” for future reading

Finding book reviews using online databases available at NOVA Libraries

NOVA students can access book reviews published in major newspapers and magazines. Use the “Find Journal” link on the library homepage and type the title of the work you seek. For example, the New York Times Book Review. Another tab will open featuring the databases where this title is available, including ProQuest Global Newsstream, for example.

EBSCO Academic Search Complete databases includes journals and magazines with book reviews. To find them, use the Advanced Search page; under Document Type, choose Book Reviews.

Two databases in the NOVA Libraries that specialize in literature are the GALE Literary Index and JSTOR. To reach these titles, begin on the library homepage and click All Databases (A-Z):

  • Click “G” and select GALE Databases; then click the link to GALE Literary Index and begin your search.
  • Click “J” and select JSTOR. To find book reviews, use the Advanced Search page. Type the title of a book or keyword and Narrow Your Search, Item = Review.

Have you got a favorite way of finding books to read? Use the Comments section to let us know.

Becoming data literate

The NOVA library staff helps students learn about career options that suit their skills and interests. Over the past few years, we’ve noticed a significant number of students exploring careers involving data: Data scientist, data analyst, data architect, data engineer, and more.

As we progress towards a data economy, data literacy is becoming increasingly important in the workplace, no matter your profession. Gartner predicts that “by 2023, data literacy will become essential in driving business value.”

In the 21st Century, everyone needs a certain level of data literacy competence. Everyone consumes data (discrete stats) as they read news articles or blog posts. Sometimes data are mentioned in the text; other times presented in a chart or graph. At some point, most of us will have to compile data from multiple sources. To accomplish this, we’ll all need to master:

  • When to use mean or medium, averages or ranges, frequencies or percentages
  • How to distinguish correlation from causation
  • Determine when it’s appropriate to use a pie or bar chart, line or clustering graph
  • Where to find (and how to cite) data/statistics.
Data literacy
Related elements of data literacy.

What is data literacy?

Statistical literacy is the ability to read and interpret numeric information, whether presented in text, table, or graphic format. “Gartner defines data literacy as the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied, and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value.”

Data literate individuals can find, evaluate, analyze, use, and create data, statistics, and visualizations responsibly. It’s important to not only be a good data consumer—critically assessing the data presented—but be able to communicate data by putting it into context for others. In addition to reading and working with data, one must be effective when communicating data, including responsibly reporting the results of a study and presenting these results in tables and graphics to make data digestible and easy to understand.

Data literacy includes the ability to:

  • Assess data sources and collection methods
  • Provide context for raw numbers via tables, charts, and graphs
  • Tell a story through data.

Ethical use of data includes not cherry-picking data to offer in support of a hypothesis, using a scale proportionate to the data, i.e., not manipulating the y axis of a graph.

Data literacy resources at the NOVA libraries

The books in our collection are shelved according to the Library of Congress (LC) classification scheme. All books about data are shelved using the call number QA76.9; those about statistics use QA276. If you’re not in the library and want to access an e-book on data or statistics, go to our homepage and type the call number (QA76.9 or QA276) into the search box. Our catalog will reveal the titles you have access to online via our library subscriptions. If you happen to be in another library that uses the LC classification scheme, you’ll know which shelf to peruse there too.

Additional resources

Academic librarians point students to creditable resources covering coursework delivered at their institutions. The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus has created a Data Literacy Teaching Toolkit, replete with instructional activities and resources for faculty to use as they teach data literacy skills.

In its Science and Information Literacy Resources Guide, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has devoted a section to Data Information Literacy Resources and Publications.  Individual institutions have created Resource Guides, such as Rutgers University Libraries Data Literacy and University Libraries, Washington University in St. Louis Data Literacies.

If you want to learn more about creating elegant and impactful visuals, take a look at the resources available on the Information is beautiful website. Another fun site to check what’s wrong with so many graphics is Junk Charts. Finally, as journalists often have to create their own charts, there’s a resource that they use, The Journalists’ ToolBox.

How data literate are you?

When reading a news article or research study, can you assess data sources and collection methods? Put your data literacy to the test at

If you could use a refresher, the video tutorials from Eastern Michigan University librarians provide an overview of data literacy and some of the elements discussed in this blog, such as:

Finally, DataProfessor created a series of data science videos in 2020 on YouTube. He also points you to other data scientist videos so that you can access “the best.” Check them out.

October 24-30 is Global Media and Information Literacy Week

Each year, the world celebrates the last week in October as Media Literacy Week, promoting media, digital, and information literacy. It’s a time for reviewing progress made towards UNESCO’s Media and Information Literacy for All programme. A list of celebrations for this year, global media and information literacy awards 2021, and additional resources can be accessed here.

The UN General Assembly resolution commemorating this week cites the need for disseminating factual, timely, targeted, clear, accessible, multilingual, and science-based information. The resolution notes the digital divide and data inequalities existing in the world and recommends addressing them “by improving people’s competencies to seek, receive and impart information in the digital realm.

What is Media Literacy?

According to Common Sense Media, “media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they are sending.” This requires learning to think critically; becoming smarter consumers of products and information; recognizing opinions, points of view, and multiple perspectives of topics; creating media responsibly; understanding the role of media in our culture; and appreciating an author’s goal and possible biases.

A subset of media literacy, “digital literacy specifically applies to media from the internet, smartphones, video games, and other nontraditional sources,” including skills and ethical obligations when creating digital media. For more, consult this Media Literacy Now video.

How can you participate in Media Literacy Week events?

Media Literacy Week calls attention to media literacy education through events and activities across the country and around the world. Each day of Media Literacy Week celebrates one of the five components of media literacy: Access, Analyze, Evaluate, Create, and Act.

In the United States, Media Literacy Week is hosted by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). The organization is “dedicated to advancing media literacy education in the United States.” The organization’s mission “is to highlight the power of media literacy education and its essential role in education.” The NAMLE site has media literacy resources for students; educators, including a link to the association’s Journal of Media Literacy Education, an online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal; and parents, such as A Parent’s Guide to Media Literacy. For more about the State of Media Literacy Education in the U.S., consult the NAMLE Report, Snapshot 2019.

Events to consider attending

Many Media Literacy Week events are being held online this year. Daily events throughout the week sponsored by NAMLE can be found here. You might also check out the events sponsored by Canada’s MediaSmarts, such as Understanding Algorithms and their Impacts (Monday, October 25, 7-8PM via Zoom) or the Identifying and Discovering Resources Escape Room, and more.  Additional MediaSmarts resources are available for parents and teachers.

On Wednesday, October 20, Pen America ( hosts an interactive media literacy workshop, Media Literacy in Tribal Communities and Protecting Collective Health. Register for the 3PM webinar. .

Additional media literacy resources

NOVA librarians consult many media literacy resources as we prepare to deliver library instruction to classes on-campus or via Zoom. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Center for Media Literacy Literacy for the 21st Century: An Overview & Orientation Guide To Media Literacy Education, 2d edition

Free and open online courses are available for self-paced learning about Media and Information Literacy

California Department of Education Media Literacy Resources for the Classroom

Monmouth University library’s Media Literacy & Misinformation Research Guide

News Literacy Project

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Mike Caulfield

If you can think of another resource, or a Media Literacy Week event you’ve enjoyed, post a comment and we’ll add it to the list.

Freedom to read (#BannedBooksWeek)

The last week in September is Banned Books Week when publishers, booksellers, librarians, teachers, and readers concerned with the freedom to express ideas share stories concerning censorship. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), censorship is “the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. ” Banned Books Week is a time for individuals to consider how best to respond to these types of attacks on freedom.

Most banned books of 2020

The American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to materials and services in 2020. Of the 273 books challenged last year, the books most often targeted for removal from library shelves, along with the rationale used by communities to restrict their being assigned in schools , include the following:

  1. George by Alex Gino
    Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
    Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message

Where to learn more

Join like-minded individuals interested in preserving the freedom to speak, read, and learn at various digital Banned Books Week events sponsored by the Banned Books Week Coalition, PEN America, and libraries around the country.