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.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

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