Finding Information

The most rewarding part of my day is helping people find things. Interaction with students, faculty, and anyone else who needs help gives me the opportunity to my job as a librarian. This might seem silly to some, after all Google can find anything you might need, right?

Over the past week I have taught 8 classes and had research consultations with almost two dozen students across all skill levels. Even for researchers that I consider advanced, there seems to be a reliance on Google (and Google Scholar) searching that seems blindingly devotional. Everyone does not need to use the Web of Science or SCOPUS with the greatest of skill, but when I talk to a student who is ABD in the social sciences and they have never heard of either of these resources I get a little cranky.

This issue sits squarely on the responsibility of librarians to the populations and institutions they serve. Prior to the avalanche of information, provided via the Internet, the library was the cultural institution of knowledge. The perception that “everything is on the Internet” was/is largely unchallenged (except for librarians who love to talk about this with other librarians).

Fake News is the latest topic that gives librarians the opportunity to teach about how to find information. Regardless of what anyone says, the answer to fake news is not technology. Yale held a“>hackathon to build an app to fight fake news. It is obtuse to believe that technology will fix the problem of fake news. Technological advancement has brought many convinces to society. But at its core, technology is reducible to a mathematical formula and humanity is not.

The only way for people to be better researchers and fight fake news is to read, and to do so carefully. How often do you repost something on Facebook without reading it? Do you consider the sources? Do you consider how that survey on parenting was conducted?

Yes, this is being annoyingly nit-picky. However, being informed requires more than just a glance at your Facebook newsfeed.

About Nicholas Wyant

Information does not want to be free. Fake News does not exist. Friends on Facebook are not really friends. I can ruin any party/social setting in mere seconds.
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