Nov. 11, 2016 by dcherubin
In the few short months I have been here as the Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian, I have been happy and energized by the use and appreciation we see of the Olin and Science Libraries and the people who work therein.
I have also spent my initial time here trying to show that we are more than just buildings and books for homework or scholarship. My mission is to show that the Wesleyan Libraries house resources for all times of need.
And I think this Election Week showed that this is such a time of need.
I, along with many here on campus and in our community, have been experiencing shared shock, anger and sadness, both from the results and the events leading up to it. In many ways, it’s personal; my partner and I both represent communities that have been marginalized. And he and I both come from areas where our political affiliations did match those of our neighbors. Which also means we were seeing different sorts of resources.
And this is one of the biggest issues we see now. We tend to seek information that reinforces our own beliefs and needs. Social media creates algorithms so that we get additional information based on what we say we like, so it’s even easier to find “fact driven” results to support our own arguments.
And both sides then feel that their “facts” are correct, because both sides have used what they feel are accurate sources, even if they were based on previous research. Even I, as a librarian and information provider, let my own feelings for social justice shape my political media bubble.
But I’m not here to say that articles or infographics or even Facebook memes you read were incorrect, no matter your political position. Rather, the information bubble that surrounds us often prevents us from seeing the other “facts.” And being more aware of what’s beyond our own resources can only help in our fight towards a better understanding of how we ended up where we are in this country and in the world.
Libraries are never truly “neutral” as we hope to serve as much truth about all factions to all needed parties. A Library’s mission is to support everyone, including marginalized and underrepresented communities. We serve all critical thinkers. We try to provide as much information as possible so you can find what you need to make a critical decision, be it in your Honors thesis or just wanting to know more about a current event.
Come talk to the Librarians here in Olin and in the Science Library and not just for your class assignment. Learn about the resources, databases, data sets, and mainstream and alternative press (both current and historical) that we have, literally, at our fingertips. Use what we have to not only form your own critical decisions, but understand what others are seeing.
Break those bubbles and gain more information as you work on our collective and collaborative future. Information is power, but only if we look at all of it.