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Although teaching students how to evaluate sources is something I've always done, the fake news situation permeating social media is more difficult simply because it is EVERYWHERE. Before you have a chance to even start to evaluate a news article, it's viral. Sometimes, the mainstream media picks up on a story, adding to its "legitimacy" when, in fact, it's not real.

One story that I've used as an example of just that situation is the Twitter tale of a man on a airplane who is stuck on the tarmac and regaling his followers with the tale of a fellow passenger who is livid at the flight delay. He goes on and on about her action, complete with photos of notes he sends her and the airplane drinks he has the flight attendant deliver. The saga captures the minds of many people and the woman passenger is vilified by his followers as the story goes viral. It runs on the nightly news broadcast as an example of rage over flight delays during the holidays. Finally, the author admits he made the entire story up. All of it.

During the recent political campaign, election, and post-election events, stories abounded about things that happened only for it to be discovered that NONE of these viral stories were true. Some were made up by the "victims" and posted online. Others were "news stories" created by others to stir the controversies surrounding one of the candidates. None were vetted by police, reporters, or the people retweeting, reposting, or sharing on social media. And so the lies were spread world-wide over and over again.

How to stop this? It can't be stopped. How to fight it? Teach ways to question stories on social media with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Here are some articles and resources to help teach students about recognizing fake news:

School Library Journal Article on Fake News

Temple University Fake News Research Guide
Yes, I know. January is over. And yet, there were no blog posts. (Sigh) What can I say? Life happened and then there were...exams! (Not much happens in the library when exams begin except for, well, exams. Lots and lots of exams.

Now it's the beautiful month of February and we keep having unseasonably warm weather and we've moved onto a new semester! So what's happening now? Well...

1. Captain Corinth has returned from his adventures in England and Ireland! (Who is Captain Corinth? Good question! And one you will need to know for the Twitter Scavenger Hunt in March to get the bonus entry for the gift card!) Keep your eyes open in the library for a small Pirate and you might find him!)

2. Library Science classes have started again, with a new round of both Library Science I and II students. Censorship is a hot topic with the legislature recently making the rounds in the state of Virginia.

3. Biscuits and Books #2 is right around the corner! This great opportunity will show off the database links in Destiny Discover and how to use them in your teaching and research. SEVENTY-SIX resources all in one place with a free Bojangles biscuit. Sign up!

4. The Spring Reading Marathon is April 3-7. Read 4 of the 5 days during SMART lunch and you will be entered into the gift card drawings. Winners have the choice of Starbucks, iTunes and Sheetz gift cards.

5. The warm-up to the Reading Marathon is our Twitter Scavanger Hunt. Stay tuned for the details, but our hashtag will be #Agree2Read. Everyone who finishes the hunt is in the drawing, but anyone who gets a picture with Captain Corinth gets their name in twice! (He is a such a publicity ham!)

Happy February Everyone!

Another event recently held in the library was our Community Financial Literacy Night.

Last year, in a conversation with a senior who was the first in her family to go to college, the student mentioned how she was planning to take the full amount of financial aid she was eligible to receive. To my astonishment, she was taking on this massive student loan to have money to "live on" (i.e.: go out to eat, buy clothes, etc.). When I asked her if she understood what a student loan's interest and repayment schedule meant, it turned out she didn't. We had a discussion about the number of loans (one per semester) and interest rates, compounded interest, and so on. At the end of the discussion, she planned to go home and talk to her parents about taking just enough money to cover tuition and books. But the entire conversation had me thinking about financial literacy and how little our teens know about loans, credit scores, retirement savings and other important topics unless they take the personal finance class.

Fast forward a little bit and....we have Financial Literacy Night! With the help of Pirate TV, morning announcements, social media, and a couple ConnectEd calls, the available slots for upperclassmen and their parents filled up. (We didn't want to surpass the fire code plus I needed a number to plan for the food.)

Our guest speaker, Paul Pittman, is the President and Managing Director of The Preferred Client Group. He is a Certified Financial Planner. Mr. Pittman's talk covered budgeting (pay yourself first!), credit scores, retirement planning (start now and you'll have the retirement you really want!), and the truth about student loan debt. His frank and humorous discussion also left time for questions and answers about a variety of topics of interest to the students and parents attending.

At the end of the night, We held a raffle ticket drawing for prom tickets! The three winners were Bryson Bland, Haydn Ledenyi, and Faith Johnson.





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