Impact and management of mis/disinformation in university libraries in Australia

ALIA Library

Nicole Johnson

This snapshot report outlines key findings and recommendations from a research project conducted on the impact and management of mis/disinformation in university libraries in Australia. The full results, literature review, research approach and methods can be found in an article ‘The Impact and Management of Mis/Disinformation at University Libraries in Australia’ in the Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association A toolkit of resources to support academic libraries is also included, some of which were provided by interviewees, is provided in both reports. 
Key Findings: 
• Library staff believe they have a role in teaching skills such as critical thinking and evaluation, advocating in this space and maintaining credible, balanced and inclusive collections.
• Library staff face a number of barriers to being able to effectively manage mis/disinformation including the constantly evolving ways that mis/disinformation spreads, lack of time to investigate accuracy of content or authority in collections, time and resources to learn more about the topic, and lack of strategic priority for this topic in universities. 
• Universities libraries don’t have collection development/management guidelines or policies in this space and staff deal with complaints on an ad hoc basis.
• The practice of managing acquisitions through large subscriptions means there is less need for subject expertise and a lack of time and resources to assess collection content. 
• The library’s role is not to censor information, and there is a need to maintain historical content, but with warnings and context around controversial or misinformation content.
• Many university libraries are prioritising or planning policies and initiatives related to Indigenous collections and decolonising collections.
• Library staff would like support from national associations such as ALIA/CAUL though guidelines, teaching exemplars, toolkits, advocacy, training, discussions, and communities of practice.
The report was comissioned and designed by the Australian Library and Information Association.

Deakin, ACT: Australian Library and Information Association