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Using Media Resources

 Information is available to us in many different formats - published books, articles, and newspapers, web pages, videos, photographs, and more. In order to effectively locate, evaluate, and incorporate a wide variety of information into our knowledge base we must understand what media literacy is and why it is such a critical twenty-first century skill.

What is media literacy?

Media literacy is a learning approach which helps students access, analyze, evaluate, and create messages using media in various forms.

The Alliance for a Media Literate America provides this definition:

Media literacy empowers people to be both critical thinkers and creative producers of an increasingly wide range of messages using image, language, and sound. It is the skillful application of literacy skills to media and technology messages.

The Center for Media Literacy has expanded their definition to read:

Media Literacy is a 21st century approach to education. It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate and create messages in a variety of forms - from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.

Media literacy is based on the premise that the medium through which a message is conveyed shapes the message itself. As the information landscape continues to expand beyond traditional text-based resources to encompass a plethora of formats including digital, video, and social media, it is important to be able to evaluate and interpret the messages received, and to understand how different formats influence these messages.

What do you know about media literacy?

Take the quiz! PBS Teachers Media Literacy Quiz

Find media sources

What kind of source do I need?

Determining what kind of source you need and should expect to find is somewhat dependent on when an event happened. The Information Cycle page can help you make this determination.

Find news sources

Newspapers are included in some of the general databases included in the Find Articles Guide. You can also access a number of newspapers on this page as well. For a more complete list of newspapers, see the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library web page.

Find video sources

Follow the links and tips on the Finding Video Clips page to locate videos covering various topics and in various formats.

Search the digital media collection

In Fall 2007 the Undergraduate Library subscribed to a collection of digital films from Films Media Group. The UGL Digital Media Collection page provides information about these films and a link to search them.

Evaluate your sources

As we become saturated with media in its varying formats it becomes easier to be complacent in accepting media on its face value. Being a savvy consumer of media is crucial to understanding its content. You should apply evaluative criteria to all the sources you use in your research.  A common set of questions should be asked, but specific questions for the various forms of media are helpful.  

Questions to ask when evaluating media sources

The following pages can also provide assistance in evaluating different types of sources: