2 DIGITAL VISUAL LITERACY INTRODUCTION TO DIGITAL VISUAL LITERACY Whenever I talk to a fellow librarian about visual literacy, the most common question I get is: What exactly is visual literacy, anyways? How does it differ from information literacy? While visual literacy has become somewhat of a buzzword, it’s not a major part of MLS curriculums, and it remains jargon to most teaching librarians outside of the arts—much less to students. Understanding Visual Literacy Simply put, visual literacy is the ability to construct meaning from images.1 When you look at a picture, you see it for what it is at its most basic level, which is usually a visual representation of a physical object. For example, take a look at Photo 1.1. We can derive meaning from it just by giving it a cursory glance. From a basic examination of this image, we can tell it’s a picture of a barren, rocky landscape with a dark sky. The picture itself is not entirely impressive. There’s nothing colorful, unexpected, or interesting that catches the viewer’s eye, and it’s grainy and marred with lighter stripes. PHOTO 1.1. Close-Up of Crater Copernicus. November 23, 1966, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Source: NASA.
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