Definition of Literacy

At the Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida on June 24, 2016, the American Library Association’s Committee on Literacy adopted the following definition of literacy from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies:

“Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.”

Multiple literacies:

  • Financial Literacy – an understanding of basic financial principles to be an informed consumer and manage one’s finances

  • Health Literacy – skills for managing one’s health and well being, including making effective decisions and partnering with healthcare providers to live a full, productive life

  • Cultural Literacy – an understanding and appreciation of the similarities and differences between one’s own system of behaviors and beliefs and those of others

  • Media Literacy – an informed, critical understanding of mass media, including the ability to evaluate sources and synthesize information