A December Pew Research Center report says 23% of Americans have knowingly or unknowingly shared “fake news” through social media, email, and other means. You may have come across some of these stories being shared again and again on Facebook as “news,” like election stories attributed to the Denver Guardian, a nonexistent news company, or any number of conspiracy theories generated from all sides.
While some “news” has been outright false (no, Ireland is not accepting American “refugees” fleeing the country), many other news items are less blatant in their falsehoods, blending facts, half-truths, and opinions or manipulating information to suit a particular perspective.
It’s all of these types of skeptical news stories that have many people in our country concerned about civic reasoning, public discourse, and responsible journalism. In fact, the Pew research shows 64% of American adults say completely made-up news has caused “a great deal of confusion” about the basic facts of current events in our nation. And this statistic crosses political parties and demographic lines.
The Library’s Commitment to the Community
The role of public libraries in our society has always been one of providing access to ideas and information, so it’s natural that libraries like Poudre River Public Library District are playing a positive role in helping their communities become news savvy and confident in their consumption of information.
Librarians have a deep commitment to providing reliable and accurate information. They are information professionals who pride themselves on helping customers find trustworthy sources and research data.
“The overwhelming amount of information that floods through our news feeds and inboxes, and which can be heard 24/7 on news channels, makes it difficult for many people to separate reliable information from fabricated information,” explains Laurel Castellano, a library assistant and instructor with the Library District.
In today’s media landscape, where fabricated information can be re-shared and re-tweeted at lightning speed and in ways that make it look authentic, librarians have been called upon to help their community become confident and self-reliant in identifying bogus news as well as in determining the purpose of news items – as news, entertainment, advertising, or even propaganda.
The Poudre River Public Library District will be holding a new class February 20 to help community members improve their information literacy and to connect them with methods of evaluating news stories and sources to determine if they’re accurate and trustworthy.
Additionally, the Library District continues to offer various print and online resources for research, news gathering, and accessing other important information. We work with established, reputable vendors whose products have proven reliable. Research databases include cited and verified sources, with a depth of coverage and perspectives. Next time you’re researching information, start with the Library and avoid having to sort through your Facebook feed to determine what is “real” and what is “fake” when it comes to important information and news.
At the Poudre River Public Library District, our mission is to provide “universal access to ideas and information to enrich our communities.” But we know it’s equally important that we provide accurate, verifiable, and trustworthy resources.
Have questions about information literacy or the library’s eResources? Call the Answer Center at 970-221-6740. And be sure to check out the upcoming class, Avoiding Fake News, on February 20 at 7:00PM at Old Town Library.