Examining the Role of Public Libraries in Combating Misinformation

Given their historic role of curating information and offering spaces where community members can collectively explore social issues, libraries are uniquely positioned to be key players in combating misinformation, political polarization, and other threats to democracy, particularly at the community level. But, while libraries have this potential, few are recognized for effectively fulfilling this role. This research project seeks to understand why. What are the experiences and challenges of librarians in their professional interactions helping people navigate problematic information? What types of issues do patrons raise? What assistance or programs have librarians provided? Have they been effective? Why or why not? What kinds of interventions could better support their efforts? The aim of this project is to chart an applied research agenda for researchers and librarians to co-create new tools, resources, programs and services that strengthen the library’s role in addressing misinformation.