Reflections on Fake News, Librarians, and Undergraduate Research

Lisa Rose-Wiles


The recent explosion of “fake news” highlights the need for academic libraries to provide access to reliable information resources and for librarians to instruct students in using them effectively. Providing reliable resources with minimal barriers to access involves cooperation among librarians, publishers, and vendors; however, I suggest that there is tension between our mutual desires to satisfy student demands for instant and perfect results and to encourage them to become persistent and critical information seekers. Many tools exist to assist students in gaining background information and limiting search results, but ultimately none replace the need to develop and explore questions and to evaluate information sources. In this paper, I reflect on the difficulties of persuading students to persist in using library resources and the use of Bernard Lonergan’s generalized empirical method as a framework for critical thinking and information literacy.

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