New Literacies

To respond to the changing needs of communities and the demands of a 21st Century society, libraries are developing services and programming in multiple, new literacies.

Food Literacy

What is Food Literacy?

Though not an exhaustive definition, we can think of food literacy, from the individual to the community level, as knowledge, skills, and behaviors that contribute to well-balanced diets, taking into account structural factors such as access, security, and sustainability.

Food literacy is sometimes referred to as culinary literacy. The Culinary Literacy Center of the Free Library of Philadelphia defines culinary literacy as “learning through cooking and learning about cooking.” The act of cooking is rich with literacy activities, including the reading and interpretation of recipes and the application of math and science concepts. Learning about cooking encompasses kitchen skills as well as the ability to interpret nutrition labels and understand the relationship between food and health.


Culinary Literacy: A Toolkit for Public Libraries

This toolkit, prepared by the Culinary Literacy Center (CLC) of The Free Library of Philadelphia, explains the mission of the CLC and describes the value of culinary literacy. It offers numerous theoretical and practical resources for libraries interested in offering culinary literacy spaces and programs.

From American Libraries,Congregating in the Kitchen: Learning through cooking at the Free Library of Philadelphia”

Cultural Literacy

What is Cultural Literacy?

Cultural literacy is an understanding and appreciation of the similarities and differences between one’s own system of behaviors and beliefs and those of others.


The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) offers a Cultural Literacy @your library Webcast, instructed by Jamie Campbell Naidoo.

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) provides “Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Multilingual Collections and Services.”

Cultural Competence

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has a Cultural Competence wiki.

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) created Diversity Standards: Cultural Competency for Academic Libraries.