Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Professor/Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction and affiliate faculty in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in collaboration with Laura Saunders, Associate Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, and Rachel Gans-Boriskin, Lecturer in Communications at Simmons College, has been awarded a National Forum grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
This National Forum grant enables the researchers to organize a symposium on the role of library and allied institutions as community anchors for information access and literacy. The symposium, which will take place at Simmons College in April 2018, is titled “Know News: Understanding and Engaging with Mis- and Disinformation.” It will bring together 70 academics and professionals from library science and the allied fields of journalism, communications, and education to confront the challenges of mis- and disinformation in an era of fake news and post-truth. Participants will analyze and compare practices, values, standards, and research across the professions related to questions of authority and trust, and discuss the role of the library to integrate best practices across fields for collective impact to support library users in engaging with, evaluating, and understanding mis- and disinformation. Hinchliffe says of the symposium: “I’m excited that we are bringing together a diverse group from various professional communities to consider the library as a living laboratory of supporting users in the pursuit of truth.”
Hinchliffe and Saunders have collaborated on a number of previous projects, particularly with respect to extending the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education to be more inclusive of social justice and information apprenticeship. Their presentation at the 2015 LOEX Fall Focus conference is found in IDEALS. Hinchliffe, Saunders and Gans-Boriskin were inspired to apply for the grant by the significant amount of attention the notion of “fake news” has received in the last year. Studies have shown that libraries continue to be viewed by the public as trusted sources while journalists have lost some public trust. Hinchliffe was also inspired by Alison Head and John Wihbey’s essay on journalists, librarians, and teachers/educators as “truth workers.” Hinchliffe says that the three researchers “saw a unique opportunity for a national convening of our professions to examine contemporary issues related to misinformation and learn from each other.” They were pleased by the wide variety of letters of support they received for their grant proposal, from practicing journalists and librarians as well as professors in both fields, and are grateful that the Institute of Museum and Library Services recognized the importance of this topic by funding their proposal.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services provides federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Their grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.