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Cornell Library Tackles the Fake News Conundrum

Why do we need libraries when we have the web?

The fake news conundrum that has garnered so much of the world’s attention in the past few months is giving us at least one good answer to that question. After all, libraries are, and long have been, one of the most powerful fact-checking tools known to humankind.

Addressing the question of how to better manage the perils of the digital age—where even the most bogus of news circles the globe at lightning speed—Cornell University Library has stepped up efforts to raise awareness about traditional services and develop new tools for making students savvy information consumers. Initiatives include:

  • • Four spring workshops on evaluating news sources: Friday March 3 @ 10:30am (Mann Library; already fully booked!),  Friday March 3 at 12pm (Mann Library) Wednesday, March 22 at 2:30 (Olin Library) Monday, March 27 at 3:30pm (Uris Library Classroom);

  • • An online “Evaluating News Sources” research guide that points viewers to tips, fact checking websites, and other resources useful for learning how to assess the reliability of web-based and even print information;

  • • An online “News Research” guide, which provides chronological overview of the major resources for finding reliable news, including information about how Cornellians can access subscription-based digital news sites (Factiva, the Financial Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post);

  • • A public awareness campaign for the Ask A Librarian service, which gives Cornellian’s 24/7 access to a trained librarian who can help hunt down the best possible facts out there on any topic; 

  • • A Cornell-wide library instruction program that helps faculty to incorporate into their courses customized instruction for honing student skills in finding reliable, high-quality information sources—especially those that are specific to the field, coursework, or research questions at hand. 

Fake news is nothing new—but it's  become clear that the place it can secure in today’s digital culture has worrisome implications. Along with other Cornell libraries, Mann remains dedicated to working with our faculty to solidify a lifelong foundation for Cornell students in the information literacy they’ll need to tell good data from bad, real from fake, in any situation—and ultimately realize their own contributions to knowledge for lasting public purpose beyond the college years.