Digital Navigator Project receives PaLA Best Practices Award

The Digital Navigator Project, a collaboration among the Penn State University Libraries; the Office of Commonwealth Libraries; and the Altoona, Central Pennsylvania and Johnstown Public Library Districts, has been awarded the 2013 Pennsylvania Libraries Association (PaLA) Best Practices Award for “a unique program for children between the ages of 6 and 12, incorporating the PA Forward Literacy of Information Literacy.” The project reaches across academic and public library boundaries and acknowledges the fact that both entities serve the same individuals but at different life stages.

Begun in the fall of 2011, the Digital Navigator Project consists of a series of remote and hands-on train-the-trainer workshops, designed and presented by Ellysa Stern Cahoy, education and behavioral sciences librarian and assistant director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Penn State University Park, and geared toward building digital technology skills among public library staff to be used within their communities.

The first series of workshops focused on the development of digital literacies—including digital storytelling and the use of digital photography, iPads and iPad apps and personal archiving—and culminated in an all-day digital storytelling workshop hosted by the Penn State Altoona Library. Librarians from all three districts attended and created promotional videos for their libraries. In addition, public library staff used this training to produce 54 workshops in their communities in 2011 and 2012, with a particular focus on digital technology programs for tweens and teens.

Central to the success of the project was the formation of three traveling media pods, purchased using Library Services and Technology Act grant funds awarded through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. These media pods contain digital cameras, iPads and MacBook laptops and travel among the libraries in each district for staff training and for use in community programs.

Members of the Digital Navigator Project planning team are Ellysa Stern Cahoy, Jackie Dillon-Fast and Christopher Lemery from Penn State; Tim Salony and Linda Filkosky from Altoona Library District; Mary Lou Repsher from Johnstown Library District and Lisa Rives Collens from Central PA Library District. The Best Practices Awards will be presented at the Pennsylvania Library Association’s Annual Conference in October 2013. For more information, contact Jackie Dillon-Fast at or 814-865-9407.