Digital Public Library of America joins national effort to combat misinformation

By DPLA, July 15, 2021.
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Access to knowledge for all Americans is at the core of what we do at the Digital Public Library of America. As the nation continues to reckon with the Covid-19 pandemic, we recognize that the spread of health misinformation is a national crisis. In response, we are proud to join with the U.S. Surgeon General in working to combat health misinformation in America’s communities. 

As part of his advisory on misinformation as a public health threat issued today, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy spotlighted three private sector initiatives that have committed to taking on this issue, a list that includes DPLA. As Dr. Murthy announced, we have committed to convening a set of librarians, scholars, journalists, and civic leaders to talk about the role libraries can play in combating misinformation. The event, tentatively planned for the fall, will build off of previous DPLA convenings, including DPLA Fest 2019, where Data and Society Founder and President danah boyd presented a keynote address on agnotology, the purposeful and strategic production of ignorance, and the meeting of public library leaders we convened with Knight Foundation in June, which brought together more than 100 library leaders and philanthropists from across the U.S. to explore how libraries can help create equitable internet access.

We believe libraries can play a critical role not only in providing access to accurate information and connecting community members with health resources, but in countering misinformation. Libraries bring three important assets to this work: they are among the nation’s most trusted institutions; they are present and active anywhere Americans live and are available to all as a neutral civic space; and they are staffed by professionals trained in finding, curating, and sharing information.

As we prepare for this convening, we would welcome your involvement. If you or your library is working to combat misinformation in your community, or if you have ideas to share or would like to become more involved with this work, please get in touch.

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For more about the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on Building a Healthy Information Environment, click here