Why librarians can’t fight fake news

M. Connor Sullivan
  • Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, March 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0961000618764258

Fake news, misinformation, and the challenges they pose for libraries

What is it about?

Combating fake news and misinformation is a concern for many. Libraries may have an important role to play, but first the profession needs to understand fully the dangers of misinformation, and reckon with the possible implications for library solutions and values.

Why is it important?

Librarians have been quick to double-down on traditional services and values as solutions to the problem of misinformation, but there is a significant body of research in psychology, political science, and other fields that challenges those solutions in important ways. If we care about the problem, we need to look closely at this research.


Matthew Sullivan (Author)
Harvard University Widener Library

Part of this paper grew out of independent study at the School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College, focused on the LIS approach to misinformation. I then expanded the work into non-LIS areas, which is the crux of the paper. I am grateful to Prof. Rong Tang for supervising the original project, and to Prof. Katherine Wisser, for reading an earlier draft of this paper.

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The following have contributed to this page: Matthew Sullivan