Since 2007, individuals in the DALN Consortium—community members, students, teachers, literacy workers—have been working to conceptualize, build, grow, sustain, and use the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN). At this time, the archive contains more than 3600 first-hand accounts of how individuals remember learning to read and write; the conditions under which they continue reading and composing; and the influences, people, and values that shape their literate practices.

Part research archive, part community literacy project, part teaching aid, the DALN has become, as far as we know, the largest publically-available, online archive of literacy narratives in the world. Communities (composition students, politicians, tattoo and piercing artists, librarians, collegiate athletes, Black women academics, GED graduates and teachers, transexual and queer activists, among many, many others) are using the DALN to record their literacy histories and describe their literacy identities in their own words. A variety of researchers are now using the collection for exploring patterns of global and local literacies, as well as learning more about different kinds of literacy sponsorships, practices, and values.

Perhaps most important for the purpose of this exhibit, composition teachers and students are using the narratives in the DALN to think about how best to design and engage with instruction focused on reading and composing in English and other languages.


This is a photograph of an old fashioned card catalog