The problem is not corporate censorship, it’s the idea that we can find all the reliable information we need on the internet with no guidelines or knowledge how to vet information or discriminate fact from fraud. Censorship becomes an issue when government entities start to take part – and this is why eliminating censorship within the construct of libraries is so important.
Twitter’s format of quick-bite information does more harm than good to one’s information literacy development. But the company’s recent partnership with UNESCO to promulgate this modern-day imperative is a step in the right direction.
As librarians, we can help during this current outbreak by curating lists of reliable sources and, as much as possible, being available (in many cases remotely) to provide reference services and point our users to reliable sources. We can continue to do what we always do – serve as touchstones for patrons looking for reliable information in a time of stress. We can do our best to help them sort through the bad and misleading information and promote the more reliable information.
Over the past few years, several state legislatures have considered strengthening media literacy skills instruction in schools based on recent research findings. But how can teachers instruct students to become critical consumers of media if politicians falsely label credible sources of information as “fake news?”
Untold numbers of Americans likely had their personal communications snagged in yet another FISA surveillance dragnet. So, where is the media coverage to inform corrective action and public oversight?
Instead of focusing mainly on fake websites when teaching information literacy skills, teachers should introduce the term disinformation and provide students with learning opportunities to explore the detrimental effects disinformation has on society.
In the fourth installment in the Intellectual Freedom Fighters Series, see how Reporters Without Borders protects freedom of the press and how journalism overlaps with library science.
I certainly see the importance of sunshine laws like FOIA, but I also like that Bohannon’s original idea focused on celebrating the First Amendment, which has perhaps lost some of the focus.
One librarian’s reflections on diversity of opinion as it fits within our understanding of intellectual freedom and information literacy.
Perhaps the most important thing librarians can do is to continue to be a part of the dialogue on how we manage these issues and balance competing interests to ensure intellectual freedom and inclusion, and to be mindful of these issues in program scheduling, meeting space usage, and collection development choices.