New media, new challenges: The library and multimedia literacy in higher education.
While today’s university students need to develop multimedia literacy skills so as to thrive in a twenty-first century economy, today’s faculty need support, information, and tools that will allow them to incorporate multimedia assignments into the classroom. Historically, the library has supported instruction by providing research materials and services, but the current high-tech environment calls for much greater involvement in the classroom. Determined to adapt the traditional function of the academic library to meet the evolving needs of students and faculty, the University of Nevada, Reno dedicated its new library, called a “Knowledge Center,” to the promotion of multimedia literacy and media production. Two librarians studied the impact of the new library design and support services on teaching and learning. They interviewed twelve faculty members from various departments and thirty-five students to learn how the library was influencing the types of assignments being given in university classes. Faculty members took advantage of the new facility to assign projects involving video, posters, digital mapping, data visualizations, and social networking. Students reported being excited and engaged by projects that called for greater collaboration, creativity, and technology skills. The success of multimedia support at this institution suggests that the library of the future will be intimately involved in the knowledge world at every step of the research process, including the production of information in new media.