Library Instruction

Fighting fake news: a frank conversation with Nicole A. Cooke

Nicole A. Cooke, a Library Journal Mover & Shaker, believes that the current flood of fake news and dubious information represents a golden opportunity for libraries. Her new ALA Editions Special Report Fake News and Alternative Facts: Information Literacy in a Post-Truth Era shows how librarians can make a difference. In this interview she talks about why information literacy is a key skill for all news consumers.

Information literacy seems to be one of those perpetually timeless topics, and there are dozens of books about it out there already. What motivated you to write this book, and how did you take a fresh approach to the topic?  

I was an academic instruction librarian before becoming faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, so I have worked with information literacy strategies for a long time, and I have read many of the books! I am also an information behavior scholar (I.e., how  people seek, avoid, and use information). Information literacy is absolutely a form of information seeking and use which has a particular emphasis on pedagogy, in that we are trying to instruct people how to be better and more efficient information evaluators and consumers. Specifically, I have been long been interested in affective information behavior (how emotions impact people’s information behaviors and patterns).

As fake news reached its fever pitch I saw really intelligent people sharing fake news on social media, not because their intelligence failed them in any way, but because they were personally invested in the message and/or the person/source of the information. Another thing that I noticed is that people shared chart from IFLA showing how to spot fake newsinformation without reading the content, which is a result of trusting a source, but is also indicative of information overload, or being inundated with information and not always knowing how to deal with it our parse it out in such a way that automatically weeds out the bad stuff. The plethora of information also makes it easy to dismiss or avoid information that makes them angry, fearful, frustrated, uncomfortable in any way.

I wrote this book because I wanted to explore the emotional/affective investment people have in the information they consume and share, and see if that exploration can impact how information professionals teach and learn about fake news.

When it comes to strong research and evaluation skills, are there generational differences between kids and their parents?

I think so, but I think kids and their parents have more in common than not, particularly when it comes to the emotional investments in messages or groups, and their capacities to be better and savvier consumers of information. I think the main differences manifest in the mode of delivery and consumption of information – meaning kids likely spend more time online and have many more online sources and apps to consult. Their parents may still be reading newspapers and watching television news and may have a better sense of source credibility. Of course, there are exceptions to all these rules!  

The ease with which many of us are hoodwinked by phony information seems directly tied to the sheer glut of information that bombards us all day long. What advice can you offer to help people be more discerning about what information they consume?

  • Be skeptical and don’t take everything you see at face value. A lot of us are very entranced in filter bubbles and echo chambers (i.e., we so carefully curate our information and social media feeds, we miss a lot of information, including conflicting information). It’s easy to fall into a lull that convinces us that we’re receiving quality information all the time. We need to read more broadly.
  • Take the time to examine the information before absorbing it; question it. Manually inspect the information, as opposed to relying on browser plug-ins and other tools designed to automatically detect fake news.
  • Also, question your reaction to the information. Are you dismissing it because it’s not factual or comes from an unfamiliar source, or because it makes you uncomfortable?

What are a few telltale signs that a “news” story you’re reading online may not be news at all?

  • Extravagant headlines – headlines that use flowery, inflammatory, and/or absolutist words.
  • Ask yourself: have I seen the story anywhere else? Triangulation (finding the story in at least 3 places) can help us determine whether a story is fake.
  • Trust your gut. Does something seem off or unbelievable about the story? Check the date on the story. Ask yourself: do I recognize the website? Is the site overrun with ads?
  • Click the link! Take the time to read the story before sharing it and see what it’s all about. Clickbait headlines usually don’t match the content.
  • If you’re still not sure, check the hoax busting and fact checking sites.

People don’t necessary appreciate being told that the article they just read was actually made up. How book cover for Fake News and Alternative Facts: Information Literacy in a Post-Truth Eracan library staff share methods to help library users think critically about information without offending or irritating them?

I think being proactive is something that will work in our favor here. If we can share informal strategies and techniques for information evaluation (such as displaying the posters and infographics in the back of the report) we can work towards keeping ideas in the forefront of people’s minds. So, the next time they see something questionable, they might remember that dramatic and/or absolutist headlines are fishy, and that might lead them to check the date of the article or look to see if it appears someplace else. Just as we do passive programming, dealing with fake news lends itself to passive education; and we can of course continue to conduct instruction sessions and workshops.

Another way to address this is not to approach susceptibility to fake news as a deficit (e.g., you fell for the hoax because you didn’t know any better); rather, we might approach it from the angle that fake news, misinformation, and disinformation are increasingly sophisticated and are so pervasive, it’s hard to negotiate everything we come across. We’ve all been victims of fake news at one time or another. It’s another area that requires our vigilance and attention.

Learn more in the new ALA Editions Special Report.

Books hot off the press, Meet the Authors at the ALA Store in Orlando

Located just inside the Shuttle Bus Entrance at the Orange County Convention Center, the ALA Store offers products that meet the widest range of your promotional and continuing education/professional development needs—as well as fun gift items. Make sure to carve out some time in your schedule during the conference to stop by and examine the many new and bestselling items available!

ALA Store hours:

  • Friday, June 24            12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
  • Saturday, June 25       8:30 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sunday, June 26          8:30 am – 5:00 pm
  • Monday, June 27        9:00 am – 2:00 pm

ALA Graphics will feature a selection of popular posters, bookmarks, and promotional materials, including new 2016 Teen Read Week and Banned Book Week items. And stop by early to get your pick of conference t-shirts—they sell out fast! We’ll also be introducing several brand new items and exclusive gifts:

  • Libraries Transform Expert Badges
  • CSK Book Award T-shirts
  • CSK Book Award Pashmina (limited quantity and only available at the Conference Store)

ALA Editions and ALA divisions are excited to offer several new titles hot off the press, such as “RDA Essentials,” by Thomas Brenndorfer; “Engaging Babies in the Library: Putting Theory into Practice,” by Debra J. Knoll; and “The Librarian's Nitty Gritty Guide to Content Marketing,” by Laura Solomon. Come by the ALA Store for these special Meet the Author events:

Saturday, June 25      

Sunday, June 26      

Remember that you can now find titles from ALA Neal-Schuman and Facet Publishing in the ALA Store. You can also get free shipping on all book orders placed in the ALA Store (posters, bookmarks, and other gift-type items are not eligible for this offer).

Stop by the ALA Store to learn more about our eLearning opportunities. You can also arrange for a live demo of RDA Toolkit—just contact us by June 20 to request an appointment.

Prices at the ALA Store automatically reflect the ALA Member discount, so there’s no need to dig out your Member number. And remember that every dollar you spend at the ALA Store helps support library advocacy, awareness, and other key programs and initiatives!

Continuing the Conversation: How to Improve Your Library Instruction: Assessment in Five Minutes

We just wrapped up Sarah Steiner’s workshop How to Improve Your Library Instruction: Assessment in Five Minutes. The readings, resources and slides for the event are listed below. Have further questions or comments? Whether you participated in the event or not, feel free to chime in via the comments area below!

The Readings for Today’s Workshop:

Resources that Sarah Mentioned During the Presentation

Survey and Poll Tools

Sarah’s Slides:
How to Improve Your Library Instruction: Assessment in Five Minutes

Demystifying Copyright: How to Educate Your Staff and Community

Lesley Ellen Harris will be teaching the ALA Editions eCourse Demystifying Copyright: How to Educate Your Staff and Community beginning on September 12th. You can learn more about the course and register for it at the ALA Store.

In July 2011, in one of her first interviews upon becoming the U.S. Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante was asked by Nate Anderson from ARS Technica if the extra attention caused by increased public interest in copyright had complicated life in the U.S. Copyright Office. Pallante’s response:

“I'm thrilled that more people care about copyright. I graduated from law school in 1990 and copyright was kind of a growing field then—environmental law was also newly hot—and it's only gotten bigger and better since. I do look at it sometimes with amusement; the field I obviously fell in love with right off the bat has gained so much attention.

            But I think it's great that the public is interested. It presents a lot of challenges but a lot of opportunities. I would like to see people respect copyright, I would like to see them know how copyright works, what it means for them in their daily lives.

            It's one of those life skills now, right? When you graduate from high school or college, you should know how to read a map, you should know how to use GPS, you should know a little bit about copyright. If you are somebody who is going to be in a field where you will encounter copyrighted materials all the time, you should know more. If you're going to be an artist or musician and you're getting a red-hot degree in the performing arts, you should know a lot. And I don't think that's quite the case—I don't think it's been built into curricula.”

What is Copyright Education and Why is it Important to you?

Libraries in organizations of all sizes are increasingly responsible for obtaining copyright permissions and providing information about copyright law. An increasing role of libraries as “copyright administrators” is to educate various internal people and departments and sometimes the public too about the basics of copyright laws, compliance with copyright guidelines, and respecting terms and conditions in license agreements.

Librarians who want to be perceived as the YES person for obtaining access to use content must be able to educate their community on copyright and licensing. Yet there is no exact definition of the concept of copyright education.  First, it is important that the copyright education be framed according to the needs of and in the context of your own enterprise. You will then need to be creative in developing and instituting an enterprise-wide education program. Your goals will be to increase the comfort level of staff in applying copyright in day-to-day situations, to lower the risk of employees infringing copyright law, and to lower potential or actual costs relating to copyright infringement.

Information about copyright law should come from a variety of sources from print and online information to discussion groups and seminars, courses and workshops. An online course beginning September 12, 2011 covers the following topics:

  • Understanding the risks of copyright infringement and how to protect your library from lawsuits
  • Understanding the need for copyright compliance nationally and globally
  • Evaluating copyright issues in your library
  • Developing a copyright education plan
  • Assessing materials, content and technology in order to equip an instruction team for your institution
  • Keeping your educational program up to date

Taking an active role in copyright education in your library is a giant step towards copyright compliance and management.

“Demystifying Copyright: How to Educate Your Staff and Your Community” offered by ALA Editions and taught by Lesley Ellen Harris (www.copyrightlaws.com), a copyright, licensing and digital property lawyer. Online content will be presented over a four-week period with opportunities to post to online discussion boards, complete weekly assignments and activities and discuss your individual questions.

For more information regarding online learning, see 

http://ow.ly/5EA6B

Your advice for on-line learners? By Joshua Kim     

Rethinking Library Patron Instruction: Libraries as Social Learning Centers

Social learning—a theme to be explored in ALA Editions’ Rethinking Library Instruction: Libraries as Social Learning Centers ecourse as we prepare materials to help library users learn what they need to learn about library resources—is hardly new. But it is something that is going to leave us far behind if we don’t jump in and stake our claim sooner than later.

Tony Bingham (President and CEO of ASTD—the American Society for Training & Development) and Marcia Conner (partner with Altimeter Group and a columnist for Fast Company magazine) provide a wonderful introduction to the topic in The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media. And Char Booth addresses the topic in the library context in her ALA Editions book Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators, particularly in “Learning from/with Others” (chapter 3).

A few of us, furthermore, are beginning to document and promote the important role libraries are and can be playing in becoming social learning centers onsite as well as online. We already have the model of the academic information commons. And we’re beginning to see public library versions including the Denver Public Library Community Technology Center and Brooklyn Public Library’s Leon Levy Information Commons that was approved in 2010.

The Digital Youth Network and its fabulous YOUMedia collaboration for teens with the Chicago Public Library is the latest library social learning space to receive widespread attention; highlighted in the MacArthur Foundation’s Panel Discussion on Re-Imagining Learning in the 21st Century and Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century,  the 50-minute PBS program which is at the heart of the Panel Discussion program, YOUMedia demonstrates that dreams of libraries as social learning centers are far from being flights of fantasy.

Karen Cator, Director of the office of Educational Technology in the U.S. Department of Education —just one of several Panel Discussion presenters—overtly provides the big picture for anyone interested in social learning: “We have an incredible opportunity to transform learning into a deeply social experience, one that can leverage mobile technologies, social networking, and digital content. We can leverage the long tail of interest and design education environments that include prior experience, outside-of-school experience, multiple languages, families, the community, all the places that students live and breathe…”

Chicago Public Library chief Mary Dempsey, in the same program, brings it closer to home by noting that libraries are no longer “just about information consumption.” Through innovations such as the Library’s YOUMedia space, libraries can help learners take advantage of environments where they are surrounded by new media and a world where “learning takes place anywhere and anytime,” she says.

And Elise Valoe, in an American Libraries magazine article (“The Evolving Library: Supporting New Teaching, Learning Styles”), reports that “libraries are now collaborative environments where individuals and groups converge to study, socialize, and gain access to resources…the library is a center of interactive learning” fostering social learning.

It’s probably clear to everyone by now that part of what we are rethinking in the ALA Editions ecourse is what it means to produce library patron instruction in an onsite-online world where synchronous and asynchronous learning are seamlessly interwoven. As we think about learning environments—those physical and virtual places where learning occurs—we have to remember that we still serve significant numbers of people face to face, at their moment of need. We also need to remember that we serve a significant number of people via online access at computer workstations and through wireless connections within library building. And there’s that third dimension in which an overwhelming majority of those we serve are arriving in our libraries online rather than physically entering our buildings.

Our social learning environments have to be adaptable to meet our users’ continuing as well as evolving learning needs. We also need to be as adaptable as we possibly can be in terms of effectively employing technology to reach and respond to library users. And we have to willingly embrace the increasing important role that nearly everyone working in libraries can and must  play as trainer-teacher-learners prepared to facilitate the learning process for all whom we serve.

Workplace Learning & Leadership: It’s a Book!

They may not be as heart-warming and engaging as the words “it’s a girl” or “it’s a boy” are. And we’re certainly not giving out cigars. But the phrase “it’s (finally) a book” is tremendously satisfying and rewarding to those of us who have given birth to one.

The recent publication of Workplace Learning & Leadership: A Handbook for Library and Nonprofit Trainers, which Lori Reed and I co-wrote for ALA Editions over a two-year period while meeting quite a few other professional and personal commitments, does bring home the satisfaction that accompanies any extended act of creation—particularly one that celebrates the spirit of collaboration by itself being the product of extended and extensive collaborations.

And it’s far from being all about us. Workplace Learning & Leadershipreflects the collaborations we established with acquisitions editor Christopher Rhodes and other colleagues at ALA Editions. It also is the result of collaborations with the trainer-teacher-learners—many of them active in the ALA Learning Round Table–who volunteered hours of their time for the interviews that are the heart of the book

Given the theme—that workplace learning and performance professionals are increasingly ineffectual if we don’t assume leadership roles within our organizations and foster the development of communities of learning—there’s little surprise in the acknowledgement that our colleagues helped create what ALA Editions published. It’s one thing for trainer-teacher-learners like Lori and me to try to pull together our own experiences in a way that helps others learn how to create effective training programs. It’s quite another to recognize that learning is at least partially fostered through effective storytelling, and that it takes a lot of great storytellers to create a book about effective learning.

Gathering some of the best storytellers we know, then taking a back seat to those storytellers so they could engage readers in a memorable and entertaining learning experience, reflects what we all know about learning: it has to be sticky. And stickiness is enhanced by a variety of voices.

The foundation for all of this, of course, is recognition that success in training-teaching-learning is rooted in a sense of humility. It’s not about any of us posing as the ultimate experts in our field. Nor is it about achieving a level of expertise and then resting on our laurels. Learning is continuous—as is the act of gathering and documenting practices that benefit all of us—so what we have done throughWorkplace Learning & Leadership and our ongoing attempts to stay ahead of those who rely on us to provide effective learning experiences is to celebrate.

We are celebrating the joys and benefits of collaboration. Of community. And the effective use of leadership to the benefit of all we serve. We are also celebrating the leadership skills all of us have developed as well as the leadership skills we see in others. Most importantly, we are celebrating the positive effects our efforts have on learners and the people whom they ultimately serve.

It’s all about providing something of lasting worth. Something that contributes to the workplace learning and performance endeavors we all adore. And something that will reach and touch members of our community we otherwise might not have the chance to meet.

Continuing the Conversation: Supporting Early Literacy Through Language-Rich Library Environments

Earlier today, we held the ALA Editions Workshop Supporting Early Literacy through Language Rich Library Environments with Saroj Ghoting. We’re following up with a few of the questions asked during the presentation that we felt merited further discussion: Saroj will be part of the discussion as well!

  • What do you think is the role of technology in promoting early literacy?
  • What is the ideal timeline for replacing displays and material in your space?
  • What’s the difference between open and closed-ended toys? Which type is better in promoting early literacy?

Links to Resources that Saroj Mentioned today:
 

The preliminary readings for this workshop were:

  • Welcoming Place,  Chapter 6 in Designing Space for Children and Teens in Libraries and Public Places by Sandra Feinberg and James Keller. Chicago: ALA, 2010 HUhttp://www.alaeditions.org/files/Feinberg_DesigningSpace_Ch6.pdfU
  • Parent Participation,  Chapter 4 in Learning Environments for Young Children: Rethinking Library Spaces and Services by Sandra Feinberg et al. Chicago: ALA, 1998. HUhttp://www.alaeditions.org/files/Feinberg_LearningEnvironments_Ch4.pdfU
  • Meece, Darrell and Anne Soderman. Setting the Stage for Young Children’s Social Development . Young Children. September 2010 p. 81-86. HUhttp://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/201009/MeeceOnline0910.pdfU
  • Greenman, Jim. Places for Childhood in the 21st Century: A Conceptual Framework. Beyond the Journal: Young Children on the Web, May 2005. HUhttp://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/200505/01Greenman.pdfU
  • Early Literacy Research-Explained, Chapter 1 in Early Literacy Storytimes @ your library: Partnering with Caregivers for Success by Saroj Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz. Chicago: ALA: 2006 HUhttp://www.alaeditions.org/files/Ghoting_ch1.pdfU
  • The following materials are suggested resources, though they may not be available for free:
  • Copple, Carol and Sue Bredekamp, eds. Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8 (3rd ed). Washington, DC: NAEYC, 2009.
  • Curtis, Deb and Margie Carter. Designs for Living and Learning: Transforming Early Childhood Environments. St.Paul, MN: Redleaf Press, 2003.
  • Diamant-Cohen, Betsy and Saroj Ghoting. Early Literacy Kit: A Handbook and Tip Cards. Chicago: ALA, 2010. (includes school readiness domains)
  • Feinberg, Sandra and James Keller. Designing Space for Children and Teens in Libraries and Public Places: How to Carve Out a Niche That Epitomizes Service. American Libraries. April 2010, pg. 34-37.
  • Gronlund, Gaye. Developmentally Appropriate Play: Guiding Young Children to a Higher Level. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press, 2010.
  • Harmes, Thelma. Environmental Rating Scales--Revised. New York: Teachers College Press, various dates.
  • Neuman, Susan B. et al. User’s Guide to the Child Home Early Language & Literacy Observation (CHELLO) Tool. Baltimore: Paul Brookes, 2007.
  • Seefeldt, Carol. Creating Rooms of Wonder: Valuing and Displaying Children’s Work to Enhance the Learning Process. Beltsville, MD: Gryphon House, 2002.
  • Tough, Paul. Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.
  • Zigler, Edward. Children’s Play; The Roots of Reading.  Washington, DC: Zero to Three, 2004.
  • Todd Risley interview: Children of the Code   www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/risley.htm
  • Library Environments for Early Literacy:  www.earlylit.net/libraryenvironment/index.shtml
  • Early Learning Standards  www.nectac.org/topics/quality/earlylearn.asp
  • School Readiness Domains  www.gettingready.org
  • Governors’ Common Core State Standards   www.corestandards.org

Saroj’s Slides:

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Continuing the Conversation: Liven up Baby and Toddler Storytimes with Sign Language

We just wrapped up Kathy MacMillan’s workshop Liven up Baby and Toddler Storytimes with Sign Language. We’ve gathered questions from the chat window so that Kathy can respond and elaborate.

Please continue the discussion of these, and any other questions you might have in the comments area. Kathy will be chiming in.

  • What do you think about the use of “baby signs”? How does that compare to ASL?
  • Do you find that using these techniques work best in a storytime where registrations is required (same or similar children each week) as opposed to non-registration storytime where you may have many different children/parents every week
  • What general signs would be good to use on a weekly basis?
  • Have you done sensory story times that incorporate sign language, and can you recommend some good resources regarding sensory story times for children with special needs?
  • I am curious about what sign you use for diamond in the Twinkle Little Star song.  I know the common gesture can be an ASL sign.

The Preliminary Readings for this Workshop Were:

Signing with Babies:
http://www.kathymacmillan.com/signingwithbabies.html

Benefit of Teaching Young Kids Sign Language:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/217439-benefit-of-teaching-young-kids-sign-language/

American Sign Language:
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/asl.asp

Six Super Ways to Use Sign Language in Your Programs:
http://www.kathymacmillan.com/storytimemagic/archive/signlanguage.html

Kathy’s Videos on YouTube:

Bounce: Taking Turns: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYkJcjlxZuE
Nursery Rhyme Activity: Jack Be Nimble: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS_XURvuMQA
Song: I Took a Walk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_psFj-5YHQ
Flannelboard Song: Three Jellyfish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t9zAvJ2kp0
Song: Hello/Goodbye Babies/Friends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrpBWIkO32U
Flannelboard or Prop Rhyme: Five Snowmen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTX8ucX1sos
Flannelboard Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEvTqgxeCrY
Flannelboard or Prop Rhyme: Five Little Monkeys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5tM5vd7hts
Action Rhyme: Caterpillar, Caterpillar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN71_Q0aMQw
Prop Story: Bear's Bath: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBRGWcWkmLw
Book: Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWNQMAZ3Ggk
Book: Bear Wants More: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXC3ll27YX0
Group Management Signs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0qYO8RjglQ

Kathy’s Slides:

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