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The role of libraries in the fake news era: a survey of information scientists and library science students in Greece

Paraskevi El. Skarpa (Department of Library Science, Archives and Information Systems, International Hellenic University, Thermi, Greece)
Emmanouel Garoufallou (Department of Library Science, Archives and Information Systems, International Hellenic University, Thermi, Greece)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 14 February 2022

Issue publication date: 4 October 2022

1708

Abstract

Purpose

Currently, knowing where to seek for reliable information may be one of the most important human skills. Data reliability is a matter of debate. The online dissemination of information has been a field for the reproduction of fake news. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) states that libraries are part of the answer to this ever-increasing problem. The purpose of the study is to investigate libraries' role in combating the fake news phenomenon.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was designed to record attitudes of professionals and students of library science on the libraries' role in the battle against misinformation. The study was conducted through an online survey using a questionnaire consisted of closed-ended, seven-point Likert scale questions. The data collected were subjected to a descriptive statistical analysis. The median was used to present the results. In order to perform analysis between genders, as well as age groups, the non-parametric criteria Mann–Whitney U and Kruskal–Wallis were applied to determine the existence of differences in participants' beliefs. Spearman's rank correlation test was used in order to examine whether participants' replies were interrelated.

Findings

Responses by 434 individuals were obtained. Participants highlighted primarily the educational role of libraries and agreed that the fake news phenomenon is an opportunity to promote the libraries' role in society. No clear direction was recorded in the participants' beliefs about the plethora of information and fake news as a potential threat to libraries. The respondents partly agreed that the plethora of information caused work-related emotional disorders and feeling that the respondents were not able to keep track of developments in the field. Finally, the study depicted the participants' need for training on combating fake news, information sources evaluation and recognizing predatory journals.

Originality/value

The study's significance lies in the following: the study contributes to the recording of professionals' as well as students of library science views about (1) libraries' role, (2) working environment and (3) training needs, concerning fake news and the overabundance of information in the digital era.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge Mr. Konstantinos B. Simoglou for providing technical help, as well as everybody who participated in this study.

Authors’ contributions: Paraskevi El. Skarpa: Data acquisition, data analysis and interpretation, drafting and revising the manuscript. Emmanouel Garoufallou: Conceptualizing the study, designing the research, revising and approving the manuscript.

Declaration of competing interest: None.

Citation

Skarpa, P.E. and Garoufallou, E. (2022), "The role of libraries in the fake news era: a survey of information scientists and library science students in Greece", Online Information Review, Vol. 46 No. 7, pp. 1205-1224. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-06-2021-0321

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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