Library and Digital Literacy in Indonesia: A reflective essay

Jisc Digital Capabilities framework

This blog post was written by Khosyi Maulana as part of the final assignment for the module EDM122 at City, University of London and licensed under CC BY-ND-SA 


Digital literacy is important for me as a librarian in Indonesia, particularly if we talk about today’s world, where technology continues to be more advanced, and it creates a“tsunami” of information, something that people cannot avoid. The ability to access, understand, and utilise digital information and technologies has become more crucial for individuals to survive in this era. This is particularly relevant to Indonesia because, by 2035, Indonesia is expected to benefit from a demographic bonus, as around 70% of its population will be within the working age range. According to some experts, this demographic shift can be a crucial turning point for Indonesia to emerge as a developed country. To make the most of this demographic bonus, the Indonesian government has implemented numerous strategies to enhance the quality of Indonesian people. One of the strategies is developing digital literacy skills because it can make people understand and use the information in the digital world to their benefit (Republic of Indonesia, 2020).

As a part of the Indonesian government, the National Library of Indonesia (NLI) has a significant role in promoting digital literacy in Indonesia. In the National mid-term development plan (2020-2024), the library sector is considered a social institution that drives literacy and innovation. As a social institution, it is the library’s duty to improve society through knowledge creation, and promoting digital literacy is one of the actions the library should take. Digital literacy is essential not only for library patrons but also for the librarian. It is a prerequisite competency before promoting digital literacy to the users.

Undoubtedly, digital literacy is a critical skill that people should have in this century. Digital literacy encompasses a range of skills and knowledge required to effectively use digital technologies for various purposes, including reading, writing, and critical thinking. It is not merely about the functional ability to use technology but also involves a deeper understanding and critical evaluation of digital content and environments (Secker, 2018; Bawden and Robinson, 2022). Secker also highlights the importance of digital literacy in navigating the complexities of the digital world, emphasising that it is more than just technical skills. In shorter words, digital literacy is the capability required to thrive, i.e. be effective and responsible in a digital society, and these abilities allow individuals to adjust to the ever-changing digital environment (Radovanović, 2024; Advance HE, no date). Digital literacy is also related to other literacy, such as information, media, and data literacy.

Fig.1 Digital capabilities framework: the Six Elements (JISC, 2024)

One of the digital capabilities is digital proficiency and productivity. Digital productivity is how individuals use digital skills to accomplish tasks, and it is related to how digital technology is changing practices such as the business (JISC, 2024). Libraries in Indonesia are concerned about developing these skills; for instance, Endang, a micro-entrepreneur from Ponorogo (Indonesia), attended the online business training conducted by the Ponorogo public library-bukalapak (e-commerce platform) and increased her sales and income through the social media (Alfatih, 2021). In this training, Endang learns how to create a” store” in e-commerce, use the right keywords for the products, promote her online store on social media and manage the content, which is all needed to sell products digitally. This fact proves that digital literacy could improve the quality of people’s lives. Furthermore, the impact of digital literacy on people’s income also happened in Pucheng County (China). Digital activities related to work and learning are identified as significant contributors to the increase in household wealth and field (Yao, Qin and Gao, 2022).

Digital literacy is a must-have skill for librarians to serve library users in a digital environment. In the digital age, information is not only limited to physical forms but extends to digital resources such as databases, e-books and online journals. Therefore, librarians must be proficient in navigating these digital resources to provide accurate information and support to library users (Bawden and Robinson, 2022).  As a librarian at the Center of Librarian Development, National Library of Indonesia, I did not directly serve the library users, but I was involved in ensuring the quality of librarians’ services through development programs such as training, workshops and seminars. The expected outcomes from the programs are to improve the librarians’ digital literacy skills and promote digital literacy to the patrons, as exemplified by Ponorogo Public Library.

Indonesian library community in promoting digital literacy

The library community is not a single player in developing digital literacy skills within society. In Indonesia, several institutions play a role in developing digital literacy, such as the National Library of Indonesia, the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the Ministry of Communication and Informatics. As a part of the government, the National Library of Indonesia is a leading institution in developing digital literacy through library services. A notable effort that NLI has made is to develop a digital library platform called iPusnas ( iPusnas enable Indonesian citizens to access digital books and comment or share their thoughts about the book.

Figure 2. iPusnas interface

Besides providing digital books, one of the NLI’s duties is to ensure the libraries in Indonesia deliver the services and meet users’ information needs. This task is carried out through several things, such as composing regulations, creating practical guides and training for librarian development. In 2022, I was involved in a team that organised online workshops about technology-based information literacy for librarians. 3,400 library staff from 34 provinces in Indonesia attended this series of workshops.

This workshop was held in partnership between NLI and the Indonesia Academic Library Association. I represented NLI in that collaboration, and my tasks included drawing up the budget, setting technical details of the event (zoom), being involved in training materials preparation, and giving a report to the Head of the Center of Librarian Development. The main focus of this workshop was to enhance information literacy skills in a digital environment by combining accessible advanced technology with five critical parts of information literacy skills: identifying information needs, finding information, evaluating sources, analysing the information and disseminating information. It will help the librarians to be agile in providing information or resources to the users in digital landscape. For instance, using Vos viewer as a tool to draw a correlation between subjects related to the users’ information needs and determine sources that have the most influence on a particular subject.

Besides NLI, various libraries, particularly public libraries, promoted digital literacy. Numerous public libraries in Indonesia have done tremendous activity in promoting digital literacy. Digital infrastructure and digital skills in Indonesia are quite varied, some regions are advanced, and others are behind. These circumstances affect the variety of digital literacy promotion. For example, Cukangkawu Village Library (West Java) provide access to the internet and trains local people to use it for their own benefit. Intan, one of the participants, used the skills that she had from the training to develop her “online shop” (Alfatih, 2021). Basic computer skills are needed to be digitally literate, so Pulang Pisau Public Library (Central Borneo) provides basic computer training for local people who have never learned computers before.

School libraries in Indonesia are also involved in promoting digital literacy. In Yogyakarta province, even though it was limited, elementary school librarians engaged with students in teaching specific information literacy skills. On rare occasions, classroom teachers may invite librarians to teach students internet exploration skills to find references and differentiate between trusted and untrusted websites or digital resources (Suwarto, Setiawan and Machmiyah, 2022)

Library institutions are not the only players who promote digital literacy in the library field. Information professional organizations such as the Indonesian Library and Information Science Scholars Associations (ISIPII) also promoted digital literacy through many seminars. One of the notable seminars was about the Creative Commons license, which was held in partnership with Creative Common Indonesia. The seminar successfully informed the Indonesian library community about open access and licensing in digital content.

Despite all the efforts and activities to promote digital literacy through the library, there is much room for improvement and development.

Further Improvement

I think learning digital literacy is related to learning or understanding human beings because digital literacy skills are not only about hard skills or technical skills in handling information in a digital environment. The side of digital literacy that only a few people are concerned about is the value within it. It is related to inclusivity, ethics, freedom of expression, intellectual property and data privacy or, in a single word, “humanity”. Librarians should be more concerned and efforts to address these issues, particularly in developing countries like Indonesia. Why is this important? The purpose or intention of using technology depends on the people, not the technology itself. The nature of technology is neutral, neither inherently good nor bad. Various entities, including governments, financial institutions, and parents, are responsible for determining the most ethical and sensible ways of utilising it (Schmid and Cohen, 2013).

One of the issues in finding information or resources in the digital environment is copyright. Legal and ethical considerations in using information as a core component of the digital literacy (Morrison and Secker, 2017). Moreover, Awareness of copyright and its implications is essential when creating, interacting with, or sharing content using digital technologies, making it intertwined with all critical aspects of digital literacies and capabilities, especially in the context of the ethics of sharing (Morrison, 2018). The first thing I want to develop as an Indonesian librarian is an awareness of copyright, not only for librarians but also for library patrons. It is ironic if library users use an internet connection in the library to access illegal streaming websites. Undeniably, the website owner is the bad guy, but people who access it, also violate copyright. Do they have digital literacy skills (technical skills)? There is no research about it, but some of them may have digital skills. Librarians should uphold and educate their users about copyright as professionals who work for knowledge and society. A society that upholds the copyright creates a better environment for creativity and innovation and contributes to the people involved in the works. Other than that, violating copyrights in the digital world leads users to a worse problem like online gambling, data scamming and pornography as illegal website streaming sets a lot of banners that directly to online gambling sites and pornography.

Preserving and digitising ancient manuscripts is mandatory for the National Library of Indonesia. Over the last decade, NLI has digitised many ancient manuscripts, old newspapers, and old literature, and understanding copyright and how it is implemented in those digitised files become more important. When libraries and institutions digitise copyrighted materials, they must ensure that their actions comply with copyright laws to avoid legal repercussions (Morrison and Secker, 2017). Besides that, understanding copyright is also needed in cataloguing digitised materials, the digital license of the materials must be clear.

The communication gap between generations did happen in NLI, and it started with the discussion in the WhatsApp group. Since I am in the middle of those generations, unofficially, my boss asked me to bridge the gap. I frequently communicated with senior group librarians and tried to understand what they were thinking about younger librarians and expect. The elder group knew that the younger generation had more talent and skill but needed to learn how to express their criticism and think in the right manner. Besides that, in social media like X, Instagram, and TikTok, many lecturers, teachers and HR professionals tell the story about how badly the millennial generation, Generation Z, and the next generation communicate through personal messages. For instance, they usually use “P” “P” P” at the beginning of the chat. P means Ping. In Indonesia, we usually use it to get immediate responses, but only for our peers.  That is why “Digital etiquette” in digital literacy training for librarians/library users is the other thing I want to put in. Digital etiquette might seem a little problem, but at a certain point, it will impact their (younger generation) future.

Last, when I was involved in creating workshops and training for librarians, people who were involved sometimes did not think about the habits of the librarians, especially in online learning. I will propose to the training or workshop organiser to assess librarian habits in the digital world. It can be done using David White’s visitor and resident concept. A Visitor uses the web only to get what they need, taking care to leave no trace of themselves, whilst the Resident lives a portion of their life online, leaving behind a visible form of self on the web (White, 2012). With a better understanding of librarian habits in the digital world, the organiser could choose the right methods to deliver training or materials and ensure every training participant will gain new knowledge and skills.


To meet the required assessment criteria, this essay will be shared on the EDM122 Blog platform under the Commons Creative Licence. This licence will grant complete copyright permission for both academic and creative work. We appreciate your cooperation and look forward to your contribution.




Advance HE (no date) Digital literacies | Advance HE. Available at:

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