Finding reliable information online in the 21 st Century can be like trying to evacuate, during a tropical storm, over a flooded highway, while dodging sinkholes, hailstones, and abandoned cars even if you are an experienced and competent driver, hard to decide how to get to safety. To make matters worse, the ground is always shifting, so what is true today might not be true tomorrow. Your library’s staff and customers, including students needing help with research and homework, need the equivalent of sonar to navigate the Information Highway.

Many professions, besides that of librarian, have developed methods for improving the accuracy of data they use to make important and sometimes expensive decisions. Learn some of the techniques that investigative reporters, insurance agents, private detectives, accountants, lawyers, scholars, and business consultants use to survey and test information.

Topics include why even well-intended people can skew the news, the power of primary sources, differences between facts, interpretations, opinions, and feelings, why no single resource or expert is 100% trustworthy and accurate, common mistakes we make while researching, why we need to avoid most general media outlets, including those deemed reliable, when researching important information, and what questions to ask when evaluating information sources. How are people held accountable for mistakes and outright lies?

– Build a think tank of people with differing expertise and points of view to help vet sources and data.
– Know the differences between applying “verification” and “refutation” as tools to determine if information is “true.”
– Learn to recognize and avoid “clickbait” and most “breaking news bulletins” as reliable sources.
– Apply tough questions to sources we trust and answers we rely on.

Original broadcast December 11, 2019 

Biography ~ Pat Wagner

Pat Wagner has been a trainer and consultant for libraries since 1978 using e-mail, platforms, and now social media to serve clients across the United States (and the solar system) who she has never met face-to-face.. She presents at state and national library conferences as well as working with libraries of all types from Alaska to Florida. She has been a frequent visitor to Florida libraries and was a facilitator for the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute for several years. Pat focuses on skills needed to support better productivity and workplace relationships, from personnel issues to strategic planning. She is known for her practical and good-humored programs.