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Librarians and Information Management Professionals: It's Time to Combat Fake News

Librarians and Information Management Professionals: It's Time to Combat Fake News


By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University

Over the weekend, I read a LinkedIn article that caught my attention because of its title, “The Essence of Trusted Leadership: Stewardship.” But after reading the first paragraph, my attention turned to what I believe was the underlying message of the article.

Tom English’s article on trusted leadership intrigued me because I had never heard of this concept. In the first paragraph, this personal improvement specialist summarized one of the opening sentences that he heard from a conference speaker, Carla Hayden, of the Library of Congress. Hayden’s statement “This is our time!” allowed me to create my definition of what I consider “trusted leadership” to be.

I love a leader who makes such a statement because it shows that the individual “can see high when the general population may be looking low.” By that, I mean that the average person focuses on what they see, whereas a leader has to look further out to see what is ahead and what is possible.

Librarians and Information Management Professionals Must Combat Fake News

Hayden was referencing stewardship and the need to combat fake news. Fake news has gotten out of hand in our society. She believes that librarians and information management (IM) professionals can be leaders in getting fake news under control.

For example, look at last week’s controversy at Google. Former Google employee, James Damore, argued in his infamous manifesto that women are not biologically fit for technology work. He said they are less assertive and more neurotic than men, making women less likely to reach leadership positions and high-stress jobs.

The research Damore provided was evidence to support his viewpoint, but what about the research that refutes his statements? While he probably believed that it was not his responsibility to present information that refuted his arguments that information did exist but was not shared.

Someone reading Damore’s so-called manifesto received a one-sided opinion and might believe that what he said was the only truth.

How Can Librarians and IM Professionals Fight Fake News?

Librarians and IM professionals can level the playing field and provide society with a sense of balance. They have been trained for the era in which we currently live, when misinformation or misleading facts appear regularly and are assumed to be true by too many people.

We can therefore argue that librarians and information management professionals can be trusted. Their responsibilities tend to be geared toward providing a service versus making a profit. They have no hidden agenda to do their job and have the ability to consistently do the right thing in every situation.

These professionals report the facts and do not get caught up with whether or not they are liberal or conservative. If you have a desire to make a difference, I believe the career paths of librarians and information management professionals are just as crucial as cybersecurity and public service positions assigned to protect the community.

I say to librarians and information management professionals: Think of yourselves as “the watchdogs for fake and biased information.” You can be trusted!

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.