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Beyond Fake News: Learning from Information Literacy Programs in Ukraine

Libraries and the Global Retreat of Democracy: Confronting Polarization, Misinformation, and Suppression

ISBN: 978-1-83982-597-2, eISBN: 978-1-83982-596-5

Publication date: 4 November 2021


As fake news and other disinformation are spread primarily online and erode trust in experts and institutions, they challenge the role of librarians as information gatekeepers. Experts have advocated for libraries to educate the public to resist misinformation, yet libraries cannot assume sole responsibility for information literacy work. In this chapter, the authors explore several successful information literacy programs in Ukraine, whose fake news problems made global headlines in 2014, when the Russian annexation of Crimea was accompanied by a flood of crude but effective disinformation. The authors look particularly at the Learn to Discern programs established by the international non-profit organization IREX to foster information literacy using techniques grounded in interdisciplinary expertise and carefully evaluated through pilot studies and follow-up evaluations. These programs train instructors through workshops and provide them with materials. In the first program, aimed at the general public, many of the instructors were librarians, and library facilities were heavily used to deliver the public training. In the second program, information literacy was integrated into the public school curriculum and thousands of teachers were trained to deliver expertly designed materials for particular grade levels and subjects. The authors also consider the special challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, both as a source for new forms of misinformation and as a disruptor of training previously delivered in tightly packed libraries and classrooms. These Ukrainian programs demonstrate the potential for fighting fake news and other misinformation on a scale far beyond what could be accomplished by individual libraries acting alone.




The authors of this chapter are grateful to Mehri Druckman for an interview to discuss the work of IREX. The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not reflect the position of their employers.


Haigh, M., Haigh, T., Dorosh, M. and Matychak, T. (2021), "Beyond Fake News: Learning from Information Literacy Programs in Ukraine", Taylor, N.G., Kettnich, K., Gorham, U. and Jaeger, P.T. (Ed.) Libraries and the Global Retreat of Democracy: Confronting Polarization, Misinformation, and Suppression (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 50), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 163-182.



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