Where does a piece of information come from?
Why does it appear in the way that it does?
Who made it?
Who owns it?
When was it created?
Who paid for it?
It is no secret that libraries and library staff are sources of information. Providing access and guidance to the community through the now myriad of information channels at our disposal is one of the most basic and essential services that the sector provides.
This Library and Information Week we’re going back to those basics, back to the idea of the ‘source’. We’re encouraging libraries to increase critical literacy skills and raise awareness of the available toolbox for understanding information sources of all kinds.
Top of mind for many when reading this will be the advent of Chat GPT and other generative AI that have the ability to canvas seemingly infinite amounts of information to produce material at the simplest of provocations - to become sources in their own right. This is the week to bring into focus the right questions to ask: how do we confirm the accuracy, determine copyright, and ensure fair use, when dealing with this type of information? How does it factor into our research methods, help shape our ideas about the world around us? How worried do we need to be?
Importantly, a source is a form of truth telling, and with the upcoming Referendum on the Voice to Parliament library staff are on hand to support people’s understanding, advise on appropriate sources and help the community make informed decisions when it comes to their vote.
Of course, questions about sources aren't limited to the world of AI or current events. A source takes many forms. It is an oral history, a family tree, an origin story. It is a piece of metadata, a text, an author, an informant. Etymologically, it is a wellspring, and it can invigorate, enlighten and pique our curiosity at the same time that it can activate our scepticism.
So this Library and Information week, it’s time to grab the source of your choice and really get to the bottom of those ingredients.
- Run a session on information literacy and/or the tools and techniques for understanding source material
- Are your patrons concerned about or interested in the impact of AI on how information is created and consumed? Consider curating a collection of texts or developing a set of resources that explore this issue
- Encourage stories from patrons about how libraries have helped them find the ‘truth' of an issue through encountering source material
- Did Marie Antoinette really say 'let them eat cake'? Present well-known quotes or facts alongside the original information or run a competition for younger library patrons to research this information
- Showcase your LOTE and translation collections - this is an interesting way to explore the idea of what a 'source' is and how the act of translation changes elements of the original
- Run a Wikipedia edit-a-thon!
- For the younger readers, have them examine popular origin stories of super heroes, mythological figures, or any character of their choosing
- Run an oral history workshop or event or explore Trove's oral history and folklore collection
Have something in mind that you'd like to add to the list? Send it through to [email protected].
Program of events
31 July - Nominations open for the South Australian Library & Information Awards (SALIAs)
Launching in 2023, the SALIAs is an annual merit prize which celebrates and recognises the work of an individual working in any sector of the library and information profession in South Australia. The award aims to promote innovation and excellence within the library and information profession. Read more and make a nomination here.
1 August - Mythbusting Wikipedia: Misinformation, AI, and Volunteers
This free webinar will be an opportunity to learn how reliable Wikipedia is, how it’s being used in classrooms, and how it can help people understand referencing, misinformation, and the need for reliable sources. Presented by Belinda Spry, Executive Officer from Wikimedia Australia. This is a free webinar, read more and register here.
1 August - AI: Where's the source?
Several key concerns regarding AI have emerged over the last few months – often focusing on the nature of the data (or source) that AIs draw from or are fed. Where does the data come from? Who owns it? How can we use it? How can we create, collect, curate and utilise data sources to leverage the potential of AI? Read more and register here.
2 August - Helping kids become critical media consumers
Join the award-winning team behind Squiz Kids Today, Australia’s premier daily news podcast for 8-12yos, to learn about Newshounds, a media literacy program providing educators with engaging, meaningful and authentic tools to teach primary-school students to recognise misinformation and disinformation when they come across. This is a free webinar, read more and register here.
2 August - Conversation at State Library Victoria: Where's the source?
In a landscape where AI, misinformation and disinformation is prominent, what possibilities and challenges should we be considering? How do we grow? And where’s the source? Consider these questions with colleagues from the State Library Victoria and others. Read more and register here.
2 August - Our Source of Strength: The Library Workforce in Tasmania (registration full)
ALIA Library & Information Week (LIW) is the week where we celebrate the work that library and information workers do all around Australia. The 2023 theme is ‘Where’s the Source’ and ALIA Island would like to celebrate our library workforce in Tasmania – our source of strength. More information.
2 August - ALIA QLD Trivia Night: Sourcey Subjects
Our Trivia master returns this year for more exciting competitions and games at this year's annual ALIA Trivia Night. With plenty of raffles and an assortment of prizes provided by our generous sponsors, put your team to the test! So, come along for a sociable and entertaining night with good food, new and old friends and a lot of laughs. Read more and register here.
3 August - First Nations Representation and Agency in Libraries
Contributing to the LIW 2023 theme of ‘Where’s the Source?’ this seminar will discuss Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice and representation in Australian libraries. The speakers will discuss the importance of libraries managing Indigenous knowledges appropriately and building relationships with First Nations people to represent history respectfully. Read more and register here.