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Forum Question

In a world of disinformation, social media, and “alternative facts,” how do you identify and vet credible information sources? How do you share those credible sources with students and public library users? What is a librarian’s role in helping the greater community find common ground in shared facts?


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January 28th, 2021

Researching information sources

I always fall back on my information literacy background to get at the facts - identify and dismiss questionable information. When working with a student or faculty member, we should be teaching them to break down the URL, conduct lateral reading, and evaluate each source for authority, accuracy, reliability, objectivity, currency, and relevance. Examining sources together while explaining the analytical process is a powerful tool. In classes, we give examples of questionable websites for students to research and analyze on their own or in pairs.

Librarians are trusted professionals and occupy a unique position from which…

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January 28th, 2021

Partnerships for public programming featuring journalists

The "media" is often attacked using this general form of the word. Most of the negative rhetoric against the "media" is usually based on what people see on opinion-based "news" cable shows or Op-Ed columns. The general public doesn't understand there is a fundamental difference in journalists and the talking heads they watch often yelling at each other on TV. One of the problems here is public education.

Journalists from credible institutions follow very strict ethical standards in their writing and reporting. Facts are vetted, reviewed and opposing views are shared when reporting on a story.…

Tags: Accuracy, Cable News, Democracy, Fake news, First amendment, Local newspapers, Media, Network News, News, Reporting

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January 28th, 2021

Selectors have to Be Both Intelligent and Trained

Credible information sources are identified in 2021 the way they always have been. One should be sure that materials selectors are versed in the notions of:

1. Authority--Reliable information sources are signed/attributed so that the background of the author(s) or originator(s) can be assessed. Education and experience in the field of knowledge or upon the topic being discussed are important factors if deciding if an information source is credible. Reliable sources include bibliographies and citations with footnotes. If new information is being relayed, sources are as transparent as possible with the research, including sample sizes or other…

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January 27th, 2021

engaging in legitimate debate

I also think public libraries could play a role in fostering healthy communication in person or on social media by promoting or holding discussions around works like:

Why Are We Yelling? The Art of Productive Disagreement by Buster Benson

Conflict Is Not Abuse by Sarah Schulman

Kill Reply All: A Modern Guide to Online Etiquette, from Social Media to Work to Love by Victoria Turk

Bridging Differences Playbook https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/Bridging_Differences_Playbook-Final.pdf?_ga=2.33030392.776663338.1604415157-255958577.1604060842 Libraries could also work with organizations like:

"Living Room Conversations"-- https://livingroomconversations.org/ OpenMind--…

Tags: Democracy, Social media

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January 26th, 2021

Lessons Learned from Teaching Classes on Disinformation

I think the best way I can address the three forum questions is to talk about my experience teaching a class on misinformation over the past four years. After the 2016 election, when the terms “fake news”, “post-truth” and “alternative facts” were suddenly everywhere, a colleague and I created a 75 minute class. We based the class on a flier from IFLA, called How to Spot Fake News (which in turn was based on an article from Factcheck.org.) The class was also called How to Spot Fake News.

Of course, not long after that, the term…

Tags: Alternative facts, Disinformation, Fake news, Media, Social media, Verification

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