Librarians as information champions in a world of infobesity and fake news

LACHAL, Jérémy, PEICH, Muy-Cheng, ECHELMAN, Adam and CHANG, Allister (2018) Librarians as information champions in a world of infobesity and fake news. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Transform Libraries, Transform Societies in Session 164 - Reference and Information Services.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Librarians as information champions in a world of infobesity and fake news

In today’s context of digitalization and infobesity, navigating the streams of information and deciphering the true from the false are real challenges, especially for the most vulnerable populations. Librarians epitomize the skills needed to disentangle reliable information from fake news: information, media and digital literacy skills. They guide users towards the relevant information, build their capacities to search and verify information by themselves and build bridges between underprivileged communities and public services (healthcare, legal counsel, etc.). However, to effectively perform this function, they need to be able to reach those who are the most fragile, and they need to learn about and understand the needs of these new users. In the US, Libraries Without Borders (LWB) has launched the “Wash and Learn” program in which librarians create physical and digital libraries in laundromats. They offer their guidance to users of the laundromats while they wait for their clothes to wash and dry: from legal literacy, to health literacy, librarians help users navigate the information, reinforce their information literacy skills and accompany them towards the relevant structures when necessary. The librarians of the “Wash and Learn” program have successfully overcome the outreach challenge: they are information champions fighting social inequalities through literacy. Based on our field experience in industrialised countries, as well as developing countries, LWB has developed an online training platform, BSF Campus ( and a coaching program for young leaders of tomorrow’s libraries, which will be continuously improved through feedbacks and best practices gathered from practitioners. This workshop will focus on the skills that librarians need to become information champions themselves: communication and outreach abilities, service prototyping, adaptation to users’ needs, partnerships establishing, etc.. Building upon LWB’s and each participant’s experience, we aim at collectively facilitating the emergence of ideas and action points to extend the reach and the impacts of libraries. Video on our Wash-and-Learn project in Detroit (US):

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