Today, ALTA welcomes our long
standing partners at the National Library and Information System Authority
(NALIS) to outline their work in bridging the information and digital literacy
gap in Trinidad and Tobago.
NALIS: Supporting literacy for 23
Established by Act 18 of 1998, the
National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) celebrates its 23rd
Anniversary in 2021. During this time of our existence, we have been committed
to hosting and collaborating to produce literacy centred programmes and
activities, in fulfillment of our mandate to ‘promote literacy skills and
awareness in the use of library material and information services within the
community’ (NALIS Act 18 of 1998, pg. 7).
The types of literacy skills that
NALIS strives to foster in our users, goes beyond the development of reading
and writing competencies, which are skills that define literacy in its
traditional sense. In fact, our programmes develop computer, digital, media,
financial and information literacies. According to the International Federation
of Library Associations (IFLA, 2021), information literacy is the cornerstone
for lifelong learning. According to the American Library Association (1989) “to
be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is
needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed
information.” NALIS has successfully and continues to be committed to fostering
these various types of literacy skills in our users in order to meet their
diverse educational, cultural and recreational needs.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NALIS
hosted numerous in-house programmes and activities to promote literacy
throughout our various publics, including storytelling, book clubs, reading
challenges, computer literacy classes and World Read Aloud Day activities. We
would have also partnered with various organisations to promote and develop
literacy and reading skills. The Adult Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA) is
one of these organisations with which NALIS shares a long standing and profound
With the advent of the COVID-19
pandemic, NALIS like all other institutions in Trinidad and Tobago, in fact,
around the world; has had to pivot in making library and information services
accessible virtually. Further to this, as information seeking has moved to the online
realm, librarians are present on the front lines of the fight against
misinformation and disinformation, continuously seeking out new and more
effective ways of helping our various publics apply information literacy
principles to their everyday lives.
One group of persons that NALIS has
sought to assist is our senior citizens. Recognising that many seniors have
been left behind as technology has invaded all aspects of our lives, NALIS
sprang into action. In December 2020, the Digital Literacy for Seniors
initiative was piloted, then rolled out in January 2021. Through this
programme, senior citizens, our ‘golden members,’ are taught how to use
applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Zoom and the internet, to assist them
in their daily and routine activities.
Librarians within NALIS’ Educational
Library Services Division (ELSD) have also answered the call to assist students
and parents, who had been relegated to the online realm as the COVID-19
pandemic ravaged the world. Even though schools have been operating virtually
for almost two years, students are still struggling to cope with learning in an
online environment. In June 2021, the Navigating Online Learning series was launched,
with a goal to meet the information needs of students by focusing on developing
their research skills and using eLearning Management Systems such as Google
Classroom. The programme also assists parents in monitoring their child’s
performance on these online systems.
NALIS has a renewed commitment to support
the needs of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, by bridging the digital
divide and promoting literacy in all forms. By transcending the limitations of
our traditional brick and mortar spaces, NALIS continues to serve to ensure
that our nation is well equipped with persons who can confidently use
information to make informed decisions, solve problems and enrich their lives.
Learn more about NALIS’ initiatives at www.nalis.gov.tt
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.