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IU East librarian’s Fake News LibGuide has generated international interest

Mar 22, 2017

When KT Lowe, coordinator of library instruction and service learning at IU East, fell for fake news on Facebook last summer, she started wondering what she could do to help others determine what’s real.

“I thought, ‘I’m smarter than this,’” Lowe said. “And so is everyone else.”

So, when it came time to provide library instruction to students in a speech course in November, Lowe found her opportunity.

The students were working on an assignment in which they could use popular sources like magazines and newspapers. To help them figure out what was fake and real news as they conducted research, Lowe created a LibGuide all about fake news.

LibGuides provide information about library and online resources in a particular subject area, and Lowe’s fake news guide includes tips on how to fact-check by investigating a source’s credentials, looking for bias, reviewing sources cited in articles and keeping the publication date in mind.

The speech class had about 20 students, but by the next day the LibGuide had been viewed over 100 times.

“In 24 hours, the page had 121 views, a really high number for a brand-new LibGuide, so we shared it with other library colleagues online and usage went through the roof,” Lowe said.

A month after creating the Fake News LibGuide, the webpage had over 20,000 views. By February, the total views had doubled. It has now reached a total of 55,747 views since it was published. IU East’s most successful LibGuide, before Lowe’s fake news page, got around about 10,000 views over the course of a year.

Lowe has also received emails from librarians across the country and overseas as far as Qatar and Beijing with requests for permission to use the site’s content.

“Creating a resource that is potentially valuable for a wide variety of resources is one of the great things a librarian can do,” she said. “To provide that kind of knowledge base, that kind of outreach and teach a wide variety of others in such a wide spread manner, it’s one of the great things you can do in this career.”

For Lowe, creating the LibGuide and directing others toward credible sources is a professional duty.

“Everyone who falls under the category of ‘librarian’ has a mandate of providing high- quality information to their patrons, whomever they may be,” she said.

In the professional and academic sphere, the response to Lowe’s Fake News LibGuide has been very positive. But on social media among Lowe’s friends and followers, she hasn’t gotten the same feedback.

“Among friends, it hasn’t been quite as good,” she said. “A lot of people do not like to be told they are posting things that aren’t true.”

But Lowe isn’t daunted.

“The best thing we can do is educate people to figure this out for themselves above and beyond anything else,” she said.

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