Three Threads for Systemic Change
These questions are good, and it’s been a thoughtful mix of ideas and discussion.
Please also consider the opportunities for us to effect systemic changes. I suggest three threads.
1. Develop and Strengthen Partnerships. Align a coordinated national library-based effort with other industry leaders already on a parallel track. Two examples of potential partners: Poynter Institute - https://www.poynter.org/about/ and FactCheck.org - https://www.factcheck.org/about/our-mission/ Bottom line: let’s not reinvent or duplicate what’s being done in this space, but find ways to work collaboratively.
2. Make Facts Appealing. Leverage visual, graphical approaches to sharing facts and information so that individuals will STOP and look, read/consume, and begin to process facts. We have at our fingertips unprecedented access to technologies to make these tasks more achievable than ever before (aggregate, formulate, and distribute facts). Let’s move beyond text and infographics.
3. Speak the Truth about Facts at ALL Costs. If this is worth doing, let’s do it right, and not shrink from conflict. But also recognize that there will be a toll to pay. Libraries pride themselves on being neutral, however when one takes a stand FOR FACTS, that can (and will) be seen as defensive or aggressive, partisan or political, OR even biased. Be unflinching in the face of disinformation; advocate for Facts.
In summary… Libraries already have a national footprint and identity. This is our Platform. How we utilize our position in society can be reactive or strategic. I suggest that if our industry were to focus on even ONE of the above threads, we would see opportunities emerge for addressing core challenges around this far-reaching topic.
p.s. Consider that the Medium is the Massage (not a typo). “There's a wonderful sign hanging in a Toronto junkyard which reads, 'Help Beautify Junkyards. Throw Something Lovely Away Today.' This is a very effective way of getting people to notice a lot of things. And so the title is intended to draw attention to the fact that a medium is not something neutral—it does something to people. It takes hold of them. It rubs them off, it massages them and bumps them around, chiropractically, as it were, and the general roughing up that any new society gets from a medium, especially a new medium, is what is intended in that title.” - M. McLuhan.
Can Libraries get strategic and smart about our Massage/Message?
Facts Have Significance.