This month’s paper, selected by Catie Tuttle, was ‘Getting the truth out: the role of libraries in the fight against fake news’ by Oliver Batchelor. Written months after the 2016 US election, the article argues that library staff have a ‘civic obligation’ to promote critical thinking skills and that the current climate presents an opportunity for librarians to promote effective research.
The author lists a number of practical strategies library staff can undertake to tackle the issue of misinformation. These include promoting non-partisan fact checking sites, using the CRAAP Test in information literacy teaching or hosting an event to talk about the ‘perils of fake news’. At the end of the article he also lists a number of useful LibGuides and websites to help Library staff keep up to date with the topic.
The article generated an interesting and lively discussion which touched on everything from the neutrality of media organisations (can it even be a thing?), the need of the library/information profession to continually adapt, to the very nature of ‘truth’ (Diane would be happy to chat about this if anyone has any thoughts 🙂 ).
During the discussion the following ideas were generated as potential areas for activity/development within Library Services:
- Develop a Summer Training session around fake news, critical thinking and what this means for libraries.
- Adapt newspapers training session and Library Guide to incorporate finding news via web sources/social media and how you would critically evaluate this information.
- Review how we support students in using data and statistics.
- Develop a toolkit or reading list for Library staff on the topic of fake news and critical thinking to sit in the staff LibGuides.
- Consider having posters/handouts in the Library in the same vein as CILIP’s Facts Matter.
- Carry out a quiz via social media where we ask students whether something (news story/photo) is fake or real (#citycraap).
- Subject Librarians to review current provision teaching of critical thinking skills and identify any gaps.
Links and further reading
- The Full Fact Toolkit
- CILIP’s Facts Matter
- Neiman Lab – Fake News
- Final report of the High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation
If you were unable to attend, but would like to read the article and add your thoughts, you can find the article here: Batchelor, O. (2017) ‘Getting out the truth: the role of libraries in the fight against fake news’, Reference Services Review, 45(2), pp. 143-148. doi: 10.1108/RSR-03-2017-0006.
Please feel free to add your comments and suggestions below.