Library Issues

Where I agree with Michael Gorman

No, the world is not ending, I simply was convinced by kgs’s recent post. I expected to find the article she quoted from and rant again about Gorman’s lack of technological understanding.

Instead, I’m going to agree with him.

On one, very small point. And probably not in the manner he’d like.

In an article in the San Fransisco Chronicle, Gorman is quoted as follows:

“If you look at the Encyclopedia Britannica, you can be fairly sure that somebody writing an article is an acknowledged expert in that field, and you can take his or her words as being at least a scholarly point of view,” said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and dean of library services at Cal State Fresno. “The problem with an online encyclopedia created by anybody is that you have no idea whether you are reading an established person in the field or somebody with an ax to grind. For all I know, Wikipedia may contain articles of great scholarly value. The question is, how do you choose between those and the other kind?”

Gorman thinks the answer for academia lies in encouraging students to think critically. “Anyone involved in higher education will tell you one of the biggest problems is uncritical acceptance (by students) of anything that’s online,” he said.

It’s that last line that I agree with, but I’d like to make an addendum. I’d prefer to say “Anyone involved….will tell you that one of the biggest problems is uncritical acceptance.”


What I want to know is: why should we be teaching our students to blindly accept anything? When we’ve had example after example after example of print sources being spurious, why should we not be teaching students to verify their research no matter what the source. That’s certainly what I’m teaching…verification is evaluation as it relates to information. Blind trust of any source is a problem.

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