January 28th, 2021

Evaluating Sources

When I started in libraries 30 years ago, finding credible information took time, but it wasn't difficult. You may have to spend 2 hours looking through books to find the answer to a reference question, but it was generally assumed that a print media source from a reputable publisher would have factual information.
Now, on the Internet, you might find an answer in a matter of seconds, but that doesn't mean it's the right answer. And now, of course, we now realize that print resources may have certain biases too.
It's interesting to me that I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum on social media, and they all cite different news sources to support their views. To discern the truth, I look at the source of the information, where they are getting the information, and examine what biases they have. That what I advise customers to do as well.
Our library has had workshops on how to spot fake news, and that's a start, but I think there is more that libraries can and should be doing. We need to not only point people toward credible information, we also need to make sure we are including sources that reflect diverse viewpoints as well. What's true for middle class white Americans may not be true for everyone. I wish I had all the answers, but I think opening the discussion is a good place to start.

Tags: Accuracy

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Comments (2)

Comments (2)

Hi Donna:

What do you think is the first step on that journey? Is it more library programming? Training librarians to work individually with patrons? Something else?

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I think training librarians to work individually with customers is the first step. I think this forum is such a great start as well.