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  • Writer's pictureMonique Gaddy

Information Literacy

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Word Map of various media words such as facebook, web, radio, share, flickr, etc.

We are often saturated with information in our daily lives. At this point, we don’t even realize it. One of the advantages of working at a library is that you can see every angle of every topic as the new issues of magazines, newspapers, and new non-fiction books come in. One of the disadvantages of working in a library is that we can forget that not all our communities can see information in this manner, and it can be extremely difficult to navigate through the plethora of information that the community is exposed to. Over time, the manner in which information is presented and framed presents a struggle to determine what information is meant to educate, sell, or sway for various reasons and agendas.

Because this topic has a lot of depth to it, and yet, is so relevant to what we have been experiencing over the last few years, I will touch on some library books, blogs, and articles that can help you in your journey through the vast realm of becoming more information literate.

View down a library row - bookshelves full of books on either side of the row.

Books You Can Check out!

A guide to how the internet has become so personalized that we may not even be exposed to information that we don't want to see - without us even asking for this service. Feeling comfortable about our own views on the world and our own experiences is pleasant, but confirmation bias can create obstacles when it comes to problem-solving and community building.

A book for our youth, Filter Bubbles and You is an introduction to the internet and all the ways that your young ones will experience being online. It touches on social media, filter bubbles, and cyberbullying. Filter bubbles create distorted versions of reality and we may be missing out on a world of perspectives and experiences that can stunt our growth and ability to create inclusive, equal, and vital communities.

This book has an interesting perspective on what data trends can show us. Turns out, what we think about ourselves and how we fill out surveys or assessments may be different than what we are actually interested in or how we actually think. The differences are large enough for us to consider how larger issues facing our nation have been bubbling under the surface and have created the current social climate that we are experiencing.

Helpful articles, websites, and videos

  • So, what is information literacy? According to common sense education, “information literacy includes the ability to identify, find, evaluate, and use information effectively.”

  • Do you have a presentation or a class to teach about information literacy? This library resource is a great place to grab some lesson plans and teaching materials.

  • Uploaded in 2013, this TedEd video explains how filter bubbles affect what we see online from popular web browsers and social media platforms.

  • Want to know more about how other countries are exposed to filter bubbles? This article from Reuter Institute has an interesting perspective on information literacy issues from the United Kingdom.

Tips and Tricks

Get out of that bubble! Getting out of our comfort zones is scary and stirs up emotions, but when we let ourselves absorb other perspectives we can try to understand more of what the people around us are experiencing, where they come from, and why they have beliefs or values that they hold dear to them. When we open our minds to other life experiences, we become better community members. This blog from San Jose Public Library does a great job of explaining how to get out of your bubble and out of the habit of confirming our own biases.

Also mentioned in the SJPL blog is how to use primary sources as much as possible to determine a situation or an event. A great current example of this is using a local data site that compiles data for the ever-changing landscape of the COVID pandemic, instead of the local news site, national news site, or social media post of the same event. The data site will show you the raw numbers for each city, county, and state, and can help you determine what is happening in your neighborhood. This kind of data is often preferred over what is happening at a national or global level for everyday decisions. For example, this may help you determine if you believe your gym is safe to use for someone who is in a high-risk category, or if that gym is within a hotspot or a red area experiencing a lot of cases and may not be a good place to visit for this week.

View of a rolling landscape with a farmhouse and trees on the left hand side.

With a little research and effort, we can continue to develop our perspectives and exposure to information in a healthy way. By developing our information literacy skills, the whole community becomes a safe, prosperous, and inviting place to all of the people who live and work here.

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