According to research published by the Pew Research Center in 2017, a big majority of American adults – nearly 80% — trust libraries to help them find reliable information. In a time when trust in other public institutions has declined, why do people continue to trust librarians?
As a librarian, I like to believe that people trust us for one simple reason – we have earned it. Master’s of Library and Information Science programs, which train public, academic, school and special librarians, include training on a concept called information literacy. Information literacy is, in short, the ability to:
- Know what information you need
- Understand where to look for information
- Know how to evaluate the information you find to check for misinformation or bias
During times of crisis, good information is essential. However, in our modern information climate, sometimes it’s hard to tell what news to believe.
Mike Caulfield, a digital information literacy expert at Washington State University Vancouver, has devised a simple and effective way to evaluate information from the Internet. He calls his method SIFT, and it involves four easy steps:
Stop — before you share information…
Investigate the source — it may just be as simple as looking it up on Wikipedia.
Find better coverage — try to find at least one other reputable news site with the same info.
Trace claims, quotes, and media to their original source — check the date and other context.
Here’s Mike explaining more about SIFT:
Read more about SIFT, and become a master of sifting through information about the Coronavirus Pandemic on Mike’s website Sifting Through the Pandemic: Information Hygiene for the Covid-19 Infodemic.
Access the Library’s Health Databases Including Health & Wellness Resource Center and MedLine Plus