In the era of fake news, confusion over what is legitimate, accurate, and relevant is rampant. To overcome this digital plague, a new survey suggests millennials are looking to an old-school way of verifying information that many may not have done since high school: asking a librarian.
Data released by Pew last December shows the impact misleading journalism has had on the Americans' confidence in the press. The doubt spans gender, age, education, wealth, race, and party divisions. It should be noted, though, that 51 percent of adults believe fake news is often articles that aren't "fully accurate," while only 32 percent believe it's mostly stories that are entirely made up.
Now millennials are attempting to combat this issue by flocking to their local libraries.
A Pew survey showed that 87 percent of the young adult age group (defined by Pew ages 18-35) believed the public library "helps them find information that is trustworthy and reliable." The millennial rate is 50 percentage points higher than all adults (aged 16 and older), of whom only 37 percent felt libraries contribute "a lot" or "somewhat" to finding trusted information.
Despite stereotypes of libraries being rapidly out of date with darkened windows, dusty books, and sound-sensitive old ladies, the library industry has been revamping its services for a new digital and tech-savvy generation. While the use of high-tech devices is low compared to other library services -- only around 13 percent in 2016 -- a majority of library computer users spent their time doing research: 61 percent for school or work and 38 percent for health information.
Comparing a list of all services rendered at most libraries, data show that 35 percent of library visitors will get help from librarians. However, 80 percent of adults believe libraries should offer digital literacy programs for their communities.
Again, millennials, a generation that has never lived in a world without the tech giant Apple, were found to be the generation that most utilized libraries with 53 percent reporting they visited a public library or bookmobile in the past year.
So how do libraries combat digital misinformation?
According to an article posted on the American Libraries' website by Marcus Banks, a journalist with personal experience as a library administrator, libraries cultivate "Information literacy." Librarians are contributing and consulting on programs such as the Trust Project, which compiles "color-coded digital ‘Trust-Indicators'" for "reliable and responsible reporting." Banks also cites that local library guides on fake news and curriculum for library programs would help increase awareness for "informational literacy."
Flocking to libraries to learn how to identify legitimate sources does make sense. They taught us as elementary school students how to search for primary and secondary sources. They taught us as high school students how to find bias in those sources. They can teach us now how to find legitimacy in the sources that we read every day.
It's doubtful this will be enough to skyrocket library usage to its former heights, but it will keep libraries relevant in this increasingly innovative digital age.
Gabriella Munoz is a commentary desk intern with the Washington Examiner and a student at Georgetown University.