2018 is barely a day old and already shaping up to be a pivotal year for libraries. Funding for academic and public libraries has never been more precarious, but support and patronship of libraries, by Millennials in particular, is robust and growing. The promise of the Information Age has hit a rough patch in the form of weaponized fake news, but librarians are finding new and innovative ways to provide information literacy skills to their users. Here are a few of the things we’ll be keeping an eye on in 2018:
Librarians Ray Pun (Fresno State) and Kenya Flash (Yale University) recently joined us to discuss teaching social justice issues using Credo. Campuses have always provided a space to nurture political thought and activity, and librarians can tap into students’ growing interest while also teaching sound research strategies that will benefit all of their studies.
Tens of thousands of new pieces of content appear online daily, and sorting through it can be a challenge for everyone from consumers, to media platforms, to search algorithms. As we’ve seen over the past year, this jungle of information provides plenty of camouflage for purveyors of fake news.
Collins Dictionary recently named “Fake News” the word of the year for 2017. From Croatian troll farms, to Russian government propaganda, to social media, to Presidential press briefings, the creation of intentionally misleading articles has dominated our discussions this year. Unfortunately, it’s about to get much, much worse.
Net Neutrality has become a hot button topic for the private sector and government alike lately. Companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Google are taking a stand against changing net neutrality laws. We recently looked at the impact of repealing the Open Internet Order (OIO) for libraries, but this issue extends into almost every facet of life in the 21st century.
Net Neutrality is the concept that the whole internet runs at the same speed no matter what. Under President Obama, the FCC enacted the Open Internet Order (OIO) in 2015 to regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. From video chat to torrenting and everything in between, there are countless applications and websites that take full advantage of the universal speeds. According to ALA, libraries and their users have benefitted from this framework.
As children we were promised flying cars, hoverboards, and conveyor belts to shower and dress us each morning. Until now, you’d be forgiven if you were disappointed that all we’ve gotten so far are increasingly sophisticated ways to argue with strangers and hail rides. Library Extension, the browser tool that gives you a heads up when your local library has the book you’re about to buy, changes everything.
A version of this post appeared in the New York Times Magazine, 14 May, 2017.
Sean Spicer's recent gaffe-riddled press briefing provides a real-time lesson in how the fake news sausage gets made. On Tuesday the White House Press Secretary made a series of what could optimistically be called “misstatements” about Adolf Hitler, concentration camps, and the use of chemical weapons in WWII. What followed is the new normal for 2017: a flood of fake news reports were generated, then shared on social media until it became difficult to discern which Spicer quotes were real and which had been fabricated.
One of the more heartening things to come of the past few months is that information literacy (along with media and digital literacy) has really come into its own as a mainstream topic. While talk of it used to reside mostly in niche library listservs, websites, and conferences, now it’s everywhere. Fake news may be responsible for many things, but its proliferation also seems to have spiked an interest in information literacy.