• Anne Pemberton

Mindfulness and Metaliteracy: Superheroes for 2021

In my version of a superhero team that swoops in and saves us from information ignorance (think Justice League or the Avengers), two of its most important members would be: Mindfulness and Metaliteracy.

I have come to accept (for now) that there is not yet a good label for the suite of skills and abilities I believe are needed to cure information ignorance. I see article after article and book after book that presents an old, new, or combined model, framework, or literacy that the author(s) presents as "the" answer to all our educator angst. But there really is no agreement on any of it. From the information literacy perspective, I am a huge fan of the ACRL Information Literacy Framework but am thinking bigger picture here (beyond what most of us think of as information literacy). What would be an overarching model to address all components of information ignorance? I really appreciate Lisa Fazio’s “Good Enough Interventions” and know that there is no perfect solution for such complex human issues. But if I had the opportunity, what would I recommend to my university’s administration as a solution? I think mindfulness and metaliteracy could do wonders.

I see metaliteracy as a model that could be used as an approach to undergraduate education. I see mindfulness as a much needed approach for the university as a whole: all faculty, staff, and students could benefit from.


Mindfulness and Buddhism have changed my life in immeasurable ways in recent years and I want to find more ways to demonstrate how mindfulness skills can be applied to information seeking and evaluating as well as dismantling system racism. There are several good sources that discuss this very thing and I am eager to write about those.

I also want to note here that I am not peaceful or enlightened as is often the expectation of someone engaged in mindfulness practices. I am a giant anxious, perfectionist, crazy mess. But I am keenly self-aware of this and I *am* a better human when I practice mindfulness as I am a more compassionate, patient, and kind giant anxious, perfectionist, crazy mess. I see mindfulness as a way of being in the world and it could have considerable impact in how we approach finding information and how we communicate those findings to others. Many posts on mindfulness to come I am sure.


Thinking of my university, we have to reach a collective agreement about what is broken and how to fix it and what we call that. I have come to greatly appreciate the Mackey and Jacobson model of "metaliteracy" ( for the ways in which, in my opinion, combines the key skills, literacies, competencies, whatever you want to call them into one framework that gives me hope if fully applied could actually make progress on my two original soul-on-fire passions: systemic racism and information ignorance. If every human embodied the learning domains, learning characteristics, and learner roles in this model, we would be living in a very different world I believe. Of course it is all well and good for this one individual librarian to adopt this metaliteracy model to guide my teaching but this will not change anything more broadly.

Unless I stumble upon some other word or model that better encapsulates what I believe is a holistic and useful way to organize a solution, I will use "metaliteracy" as the name of the model that could save the day. I have been thinking of "metaliteracy" as the tortilla that wraps around all the key ingredients of critical thinking, digital literacy, information literacy, media literacy, etc. My university and others have already identified that these are important [skills, competencies, literacies] that need to be taught. Metaliteracy connects them all together for me. I freaking LOVE a good burrito and I love an analogy even more. I think it is an excellent starting point.

I have started to organize my metaliteracy notes and plan to use each blog post as an opportunity to describe a resource, approach, technique, theory, curriculum, or ??? that is relevant and potentially useful in my specific context. It gives me great mental relief to have a place I can word vomit about these important issues.

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