Information and media literacy is acquisition of knowledge and skills to use information and media, created as a response to the challenges of the time in which information multiplication and dissemination of media have reached unexpected proportions. Information Literacy was created within the library and information profession, as greatly expanded and modernized practice of library users’ education in order to simplify their navigation through its extensive funds and catalogs, while media literacy emerged within the study of media. By the beginning of the new millennium, these two practices have been studied separately. However, information and media are in the inseparable relation because the information without the media is an abstraction, and media without information is a meaningless technique. In recent years, holistic approach to these areas has been dominant, and it has strengthen the term “information and media literacy” (MIL). UNESCO has significantly contributed to this change by its activities and declarations, mainly through the IFAP (Information for All) program.
Due to the importance of these skills in learning, work and everyday life, and its legal obligation to monitor and improve the professional work of all Montenegrin libraries, at the end of 2013 the National Library of Montenegro “Đurđe Crnojević” decided to initiate the development of a strategy for popularizing the dissemination of information and media literacy through a network of libraries. Since different types of libraries belong to different sectors of society, to achieve this goal it was necessary to build a model of interdepartmental cooperation.
During 2014, the cooperation with partners for strategy development – Ministry of Culture and the Montenegrin National Commission for UNESCO – has been established at the initiative of the National Library, and public presentations of initiation have been organized in Cetinje, Podgorica, Kotor and Bijelo Polje. Last year the National Library nominated the project Information and Media Literacy (MIL) – Strategy and Education for the UNESCO’s Participation Programme 2014/2015. The project was approved in the full amount proposed (amount of 25 800 USD) and project implementation started in January this year. The project leader is Jelena Đurović, director of the National Library of Montenegro, and coordinators of project activities are Gordana Ljubanović and Vesna Kovačević, librarians of the National Library and specialists in information and media literacy.
The project unrolls in two parallel courses: a working group made of consultants from the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, Bureau for Education Services, Ministry for Information Society and Telecommunications and the National Library will work on the proposed strategy, while through ten workshops for educators around 160 participants will learn how to transmit knowledge on MIL. For those activities, the National Library is preparing the publication of UNESCO’s handbooks translation: MIL – Guidelines for Policy and Strategy, MIL Curriculim for Teachers, and appropriate thematic literature that upon completion of trainings will become a part of the funds of libraries and schools involved.
The purpose of the project is to initiate interdepartmental cooperation (culture, education and information society) in order to begin the process of defining the national strategy for MIL, promoting and spreading it through thematic workshops in schools and public libraries and to improve opportunities and quality of learning. In this context, learning does not only involve a formal process, but any acquisition of knowledge needed to achieve better communication with other members of society, make quality decisions, use information and media in a responsible manner and in accordance with the ethics, and ultimately, to improve the overall quality of our lives.
This initiative is basically a project of continuing education in combination with facilitating and promoting. Its initiators are hoping that commenced work, involving planned and systematic introduction of information and media literacy to our society, will be recognized as a continuation of what libraries have always done: being at service to their users.