...Libraries have always been about fostering understanding of the democratic process, but there is an intensified requirement raised this round to confront misinformation.
Our kids are watching and learning. So far, they have witnessed, largely due to Donald Trump’s candidacy, a low bar of rhetoric that, heightened by the gaze of a camera lens, has glamorized racism, sexism, and xenophobia at the expense of accuracy, insight into how policies affect daily life, and clear discussion of the issues at hand. The noise and show of self-aggrandizement and hostility as a leadership stance drowns out thoughtful approaches to complex problems. If we let this deplorable level of discourse stand as a new normal for the viability of hype, we fail our students, ourselves, and the foundation upon which our democracy is built.
As I sort through the vast flow of content and media coverage geared to sway instead of inform, I am more committed than ever to the mission of libraries to help foster an educated citizenry and develop all sorts of literacies—including information and digital literacy. This work has always mattered, and now it is more important than ever. Rebecca Miller, Choosing Leaders: What Are You Voting For? School Library Journal, October 18, 2016.
Thank you, Ms Miller, for this fine editorial. It serves as a reminder to me - and I am sure many others - why librarianship is an avocation, a calling, not just a job.
In an age of truthiness* dominating the political process, it is becoming increasingly difficult to trust that people make truly informed decisions -that we are even rational human beings. Even those who use evidence to support their beliefs often are guilty of confirmation bias. And that includes me.
As librarians, we have a dual role. We help people find and understand reliable information. We teach about how others may represent facts in ways that may support a particular bias. We acquire information from multiple perspectives and allow others to decide for themselves their own interpretation of a situation.
Yet a second role is to inspire passions in our patrons as well. We encourage that what library users find then spurs curiosity, creativity, action, and empathy response. We want others to do something with the knowledge they acquire.
Our country cannot function with only those who are emotional or those who only engage in neutral fact-finding. Our country should be led be those who have informed passions. The kind that libraries engender.
*Truthiness is a quality characterizing a "truth" that a person making an argument or assertion claims to know intuitively "from the gut" or because it "feels right" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts. Wikipedia