On Day 2, Focus is On Finding and Vetting

Where can you find information and data, and how do you know whether it is accurate? Those questions loomed large over the second day of the SLA 2022 Annual Conference, as speakers at the two morning sessions in the conference center ballroom addressed information literacy from different perspectives.

The second of the two sessions featured a keynote presentation from Nicole Cook, Ph.D., the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and an associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. In her address, “Disinformation and the Literacy Landscape,” Dr. Cooke examined the concepts of mis-, dis-, and malinformation and urged the librarians and information professionals in the audience to be proactive and even “pushy” in teaching information literacy skills.

“We are the fish, and disinformation is the water we swim in,” she said. “We can’t wait for our constituents to come to us and ask for help with disinformation.”

Whereas Dr. Cooke focused on topics such as social media control over information flow and the practices of information avoidance and information blunting, the two speakers in the session that preceded hers discussed how to teach people to find more information. In “Finding Data: Teaching Science and Technology Data Information Literacy Skills to Researchers,” Jay Bhatt and Lynnee Argabright reviewed tools such as Advanced Google, subscription databases, and data repositories that can reveal information and data sources hidden from people who rely only on popular search methods.

Bhatt, an engineering librarian at Drexel University, discussed an exercise in which he told students to find data about ocean pollution using online sources that do not have a dot-com extension.

“It’s like throwing someone into the water to teach them how to swim,” he said of teaching data literacy skills. “You just throw them into the water of information.”

The session led by Bhatt and Argabright and the keynote address by Cooke highlighted a day that also featured the presentation of five more awards, meetings and receptions hosted by several SLA communities, and sessions on topics ranging from project management to encouraging collaboration to new developments in privacy law. Throughout the day, attendees visited the exhibit hall, where providers of information products and services were available to discuss their latest innovations.

The conference will conclude on Tuesday, August 2, with a closing keynote address on the role of information professionals in crafting a gender-inclusive future. One of the highlights of the day will be a guided tour of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, hosted by SLA’s Social Sciences & Humanities Community. The centerpiece of the Gantt Center’s permanent collection is a set of more than 50 pieces of art collected by the late Vivian Davidson Hewitt, SLA’s first Black president.

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