Biblioaction, Where You See Visual Literacy

Written By
Adinda Mauradiva

Edited By
Fazrah Heryanda

Photograph By
Adhelia Sani Pramita
Fadhli Zaky

When you are watching a film, you could think like ‘oh this means nothing’ while on the other hand, your family or friends could think the opposite. It shows how the visual media consumed could be interpreted differently and assigned meanings to visual creations; film is a part of visual literacy. Not only film, but books also contain of pictures. Visual literacy is defined as the ability to make sense of still and moving images, interpret and analyze them critically; that’s why it’s closely related to comic books, storybooks etc. The media library of Institut Français d’Indonésie (IFI), Surabaya (@ifi_surabaya) —where two founders of Biblioaction frequently meet to discuss about the monthly event that they’ve established together since March this year, translates visual literacy into being.

Biblioaction was born through the growing concern that Ripta has over children who spent overtime on their smartphones and threw tantrums on the church. From there, both Ripta and Via popped up the question: “how do we provide activity in a fun way to stimulate their creativity, also offer other options to read besides thick textbooks? “ The answer came when Via was looking for the term of visual literacy study in one of the universities in UK. This term is not yet familiar here in Indonesia. “Take a look at European books; they innovate a lot in the techniques by using media, such as pop-up etc. The mediated platform changed the name of most libraries in France from bibliothèque to médiathèque. It’s more progressive there” highlights Via about why they use more European books, especially French books, for Biblioaction.

In Biblioaction, the children aged from 9-12 are not required to identify what’s wrong and what’s right. Through a visual medium, they are encouraged to enhance their critical thinking by arranging the pictures and retelling the stories. To make better use of their explorative imagination, Ripta and Via will ask them: when you plant some rice, what is the paddy field shape like? What kind of hat does the farmer wear? “This will prompt them to continue thinking. One of the biggest transformations happened with the shyest kid who has never skipped on Biblioaction. She entered a fairytale competition with her famous story that she made in the first meeting, ‘Peas and Alien.’ The mother told us how proud she was because she wouldn’t think her daughter could achieve so much and own that kind of courage,” told Ripta. Via added, “We didn’t think of it as possible at first, because she would never utter a word on our first meeting. For us not considered as formal teachers, somehow seeing that made our heart swell.” In actuality, Biblioaction as a way to facilitate the importance of visual literacy is not exclusive for children only; it could also be applied to all ages. For example, in September, Biblioaction will be held to present learning through separating film sequences that enables adolescents from 13-15 to formulate their own opinions towards the characters and how they handle similar situations in that movie.

Perhaps that could be the reason why visual literacy is mostly associated with excellent data visualization, according to an article from Towards Data Science. It helps with the presentation of the data as information and is a way to keep data visualization interesting, exciting, and accessible for everyone. One conclusion found in the study entitled ‘The Relation between Infographic and Visual Literacy’ by Banu İnanç stated that visual literacy is also needed to question the accuracy, validity, and reliability of infographics as the most effective interaction method to convey information by reading, understanding, and evaluating them.

In the end, Biblioaction may not be the best approach to visual literacy, but it’s worth keeping on trying,” said Ripta. She hoped that Biblioaction keeps books alive in the future because the truest form of knowledge comes from books. In addition, reading makes all of our five senses work—what makes us human and enable us to let out our emotions. For Via, Biblioaction delivers its purpose more for the children themselves, because the younger generations should replace the ones before them.  With the assistance of moral value-filled storybooks, Biblioaction strives to drive away precociousness in children from randomized contents on the internet and to deliver a fun learning process using visual literacy.