‘App Library’ develops teenagers’ critical thinking skills

'Alexandru D. Xenopol’ Arad County Library, Romania 

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Two teenaged girls researching the internet on a desktop computer.
Arad County Library’s ‘App Library’ project builds teenagers’ critical thinking skills.

Community need

In 2009, European Union research showed that media education was not adequately addressed by the Romanian education system. In 2013, further research found that although children learnt about information technology at school, there was no policy or strategy for teaching e-literacy or media education. In addition, teachers did not have training or confidence to tackle these subjects (MEDIANet / ActiveWatch 2013). 

The innovative service

Supported by a small grant (up to US$20,000) from the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP), Arad County Library’s ‘App Library’ project addresses these problems.

Working with the Arad County School Inspectorate, the library selected three teachers and two librarians to become media educators. This five-member team developed a comprehensive eight-module course, including media and e-literacy theory, and practical media, publishing and communications skills.

The library’s training course teaches teenagers to access and critically assess online media and information. In addition, teenagers learnt practical media, publishing and communications skills. To raise awareness about software choices, and to encourage curiosity, the library chose to use free and open source software, which is available online free of charge. 

Achievements and impact

In just one year, the library - 

  • Established close relationships with the education inspectorate and schools, laying the ground for future collaboration in e-learning programmes;
  • Created an e-learning Moodle platform which can be used for other non-formal education courses in the library;
  • Trained, and awarded certificates to 199 young people recruited from local schools;
  • Disseminated their experience at local and national library events, reaching almost 300 librarians from Romania and Hungary, and presented a paper to the annual congress of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA);

The library’s media and e-literacy training curriculum is now available for use in libraries and schools across the country.

The service has demonstrated the ability of public libraries to supplement the school curriculum by providing extramural activities in a non-formal setting, and changed perceptions of the library in the community – partner organizations, teachers and students now see the library as a dynamic space offering knowledge and skills of immediate value in daily life.

For the future, the library has set in motion plans to continue their training for another school year, and is designing advanced training for students who completed the first course. To further develop teenagers' critical thinking skills, the library is expanding the curriculum to include a session on writing structured, encyclopedic articles to enrich the Romanian version of Wikipedia. This will be done in partnership with the Wikipedia project in Romania.

The library is also seeking to address the wider issue of educational change in Romania by encouraging inclusion of media education and media literacy in the national school curriculum, and, through training, to build teachers’ skills and confidence to teach media literacy.

EIFL-PLIP project timeline

May 2014 – June 2015

About ‘Alexandru D. Xenopol’ Arad County Library

The library is based in Arad County in western Romania. Services include provision of access to print and online resources, computer and internet access, and digital literacy and technology training. The library serves over 1,000 people a day.

Additional resources

Read a two-page case study about ‘Alexandru D. Xenopol' Arad County Library's 'App Library' project.

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For me this has been an extraordinary experience. I have learnt to work with Linux, which is an undiscovered treasure. I now want to go further with information technology studies.
Female student, aged 16