Separating “truth from fiction and signal from noise” at our libraries

October is National Information Literacy Awareness Month. President Obama outlined the meaning of Information Literacy in his recent proclamation, “Rather than merely possessing data, we must also learn the skills necessary to acquire, collate, and evaluate information for any situation. This new type of literacy also requires competency with communication technologies, including computers and mobile devices that can help in our day-to-day decision making.” He sheds  light on the important ways library staff  contribute to helping us interpret this abundance of information. He acknowledges,  “We now live in a world where anyone can publish an opinion or perspective, whether true or not, and have that opinion amplified within the information marketplace,” and cites libraries and universities as places  “that can help separate truth from fiction and signal from noise.”

Many people who responded thoughtfully to the question about library relevance in this digital age in our library value survey commented on the role librarians play in helping us find relevant information among all the misleading sources. Others talked about how they look to libraries to provide connections to technology.

Virginia Lore, a Delridge branch patron wrote, “I think libraries are more relevant than ever. The more resources we have at our disposal, the more urgently we need people to help us sort through those resources and find what is most relevant to us. Without the library, I think I’d often be overwhelmed by everything out there.”

Greenlake patron Abe Wenning wrote,  “As more and more information is put onto the internet, it becomes increasingly important to have librarians available to help people sort through it and find relevant and accurate information. While libraries may have to adapt, they will always remain relevant and integral to a democratic community.”

Jessica says, “Access to technology will continue to be an issue as will keeping the public up to date on current technology options. Reference librarians will continue to play a vital role in connecting visitors to new and old ways of accessing knowledge and to the books/websites/search engines themselves.”

For Charles in Fremont, libraries not only connect us with technology and help us discern sources, he writes, “Public libraries are the only informational gatekeepers that can be trusted to keep access open to the public in perpetuity.”

Please help us keep the gateway doors open in our neighborhoods by supporting the 2010 Library budget.

Our libraries provide many computer literacy classes and offer ESL supported computer learning. In August 09 email and live chat format information services at the library were up 38% over the previous year. Like one of our survey respondents said,  “And handy as Google is, if I really want to find the answer to a question, I ask a librarian. He or she might not know the answer, but they always know how to find it!”

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