The Role of Libraries in Misinformation Programming: A Research Agenda


Misinformation, or fake news, has exploded across social media platforms and communities over the past few years, with serious social and political implications. Many library practitioners and organizations have argued that libraries can and should play a central role in educating the public about this emerging issue. However, serious gaps exist in understanding how libraries can create effective community education about misinformation. This article maps out a research agenda that researchers and public library practitioners can use to make libraries more effective sites for combatting misinformation. This research agenda is grounded in analysis of interviews and workshop discussions of public library staff from Washington State. This analysis reveals three areas in which academic partners can support public libraries: through the design of effective programming, through the development of tools that help librarians keep up-to-date on relevant misinformation, and through interventions in the political and economic contexts that hamper the freedom of librarians to engage controversial topics. Our hope is that this article can help to spur more expansive library and information science research across these areas and become the beginning of a longer and more empirically grounded conversation about how public libraries can achieve their potential for combating misinformation.

Quick Facts

Publication Type

  • Academic Journal
  • Journal Article

Publication Date

  • 2020

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