Library Instruction for Mis/Disinformation: French and U.S. Perspectives

Attention to the challenges of mis- and disinformation has increased along with the recognition of the influence of mis/disinformation on successive United States presidential elections, the Brexit vote, other elections and ballot initiatives worldwide, and response to the antiviral vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. In 2013, the World Economic Forum identified mis/disinformation as one of the top three global threats (Howell, 2013), and in its 2019 report, the Forum elaborated to recognize that “among the most widespread and disruptive impacts of AI in recent years has been its role in the rise of “media echo chambers and fake news” (World Economic Forum, 2019).

The crisis of misinformation has led to calls for greater attention to information and news literacy instruction, and libraries have been identified as one of the key institutions to provide such training (Jaeger & Taylor, 2021). However, academic librarians often depend on the interest and invitation of teaching faculty to engage in library instruction. Even when they are given classroom time, they often have to tailor their instruction to the specific courses, assignments, and directions of the faculty, which might not allow them to address topics of mis/disinformation in any depth. Indeed, a study of over 700 faculty members in the United States across various disciplines found that while the vast majority of faculty agree that the mis/disinformation is a problem and that instruction in news literacy skills is important, they vary as to whether they believe it is their responsibility to teach those skills, and very few report working with a librarian to address mis/disinformation in the classroom (Saunders, 2022). This survey of faculty was followed in 2022 by a survey of academic librarians in the United States. Similar to the faculty survey, librarians were asked their perspectives on various aspects of mis- and disinformation, whether and how they were addressing mis- and disinformation topics in their instruction, and their perceptions of student news literacy competencies (Saunders, forthcoming).

The survey of academic librarians was replicated in France in fall of 2023. In this session the panelists will share the results of the surveys from both countries, exploring how librarians in each country perceive the challenges of mis- and disinformation, which tools and responses they believe to be most effective in combatting those challenges, and the extent to which they are teaching these concepts to their students. The panelists will provide a preliminary comparison of responses between the two countries and compare these to the faculty responses from the previous study. They conclude with recommendations for increasing collaboration between faculty and librarians, and further integration of mis/disinformation topics into library instruction. This session is suited to a panel presentation because the presenters will be reporting on two separate studies first, before comparing the results across the studies. The panel format allows for the studies to be presented as a series, but will also entail ample time for questions and discussion with the audience.

References

  • Howell, L. (2013). Global risks 2013. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from http://reports.weforum.org/global-risks-2013/title-page/
  • Jaeger, P. T., & Taylor, N.G. (2021). Arsenals of life-long information literacy: Educating users to navigate political and current events information in a world of ever-evolving misinformation. Library Quarterly, 91(1), 19–31. https://doi.org/10.1086/711632
  • Saunders, L. (2022). Faculty perspectives on mis- and disinformation across disciplines. College & Research Libraries, 83(2), 221–245. https://doi.org/10.5860/crl.83.2.221
  • Saunders, L. (forthcoming). Librarian perspectives on misinformation: A follow-up and comparative study. College & Research Libraries.
  • World Economic Forum. (2019). The Global Risks Report 2019. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Global_Risks_Report_2019.pdf

Joumana Boustany1, Laura Saunders2
1Université Gustave Eiffel, Paris, France; 2Simmons College, Boston, USA

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