Addressing misinformation, one patron at a time

By DPLA, November 12, 2021.
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Earlier this week, DPLA hosted Addressing Health Misinformation Through Community, a conversation with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy and Knight Foundation. The gathering brought together a set of library, civic, and philanthropic leaders to discuss practical ways to counter health misinformation. 

The scourge of misinformation is not an abstract issue, it is an urgent one in which people are intentionally crafting and distributing lies that are costing people their lives and imperiling our ability to function as a democracy. We know that Black and Brown communities are particularly under threat from exposure to such messages, and the harms they cause. DPLA sees this as an urgent issue and one that libraries are well-positioned to help address. 

As trusted sources of information in communities across America, or in Dr. Murthy’s words, “social anchors,” libraries are uniquely capable of helping patrons make sense of the deluge of information they are faced with every day. In many ways, librarians are on the front lines of the effort to guide members of our communities to accurate sources of information, and all of us have a critical role to play in this work. You can view a recording of the event here

As part of this conversation, the office of the Surgeon General released a new toolkit that provides resources for librarians and other community leaders to address health misinformation on a local level. The kit includes concrete, actionable tools, including a health misinformation checklist to help evaluate accuracy on health-related content; tips on talking to loved ones about health misinformation; and information on common tactics used to spread misinformation and disinformation. 

We are pleased to announce that, in the coming weeks, we will be partnering with the American Libraries Association and Califa, a nonprofit library membership consortium representing 230 libraries in California, to present a series of trainings to help libraries utilize this toolkit in their communities. Please join our mailing list or follow us on Twitter to stay informed as we schedule these training sessions.

We also invite you to join our next Book Talk, on Thursday, December 9, 2021, at 11 am ET with author Tim Hwang. His new book, Subprime Attention Crisis: Advertising and the Time Bomb at the Heart of the Internet, delves into subjects deeply interconnected with the fight against misinformation and disinformation–including the “attention economy,” and how it has led to harmful surveillance practices and the proliferation of toxic, inflammatory content, as well as ways we can chart a new and healthier path forward. You can register for the book talk here.