The library’s role in countering infodemics
Walker P. J Med Libr Assoc. 2021 Jan 1;109(1):133-136
The World Health Organization recently labeled the COVID-19 pandemic as an ‘Infodemic’. As the term suggests, an infodemic translates to an aggressive growth in the amount of information available regarding a topic of interest, so much so that a potential solution becomes more and more convoluted.
This article divulges the massive growth in COVID data. It reads that, as of the 28th of August 2020, a simple search with the keyword ‘COVID-19’ provides 47,405 results in PubMed; 1,717 yields on bioRxiv.org; 6368 on medRxiv.org, and more than a million outputs in Google.
While the amount of literature maybe laudable, it is fairly common knowledge that not all of it is reliable or usable. The information explosion had already meant an overdrive of resources available at the disposal of all, regardless of their capacity at filtering resources to need/ reliability. Now, the pandemic has added a new dimension to the amount of unreliable information doing the rounds.
The role to be played by librarians under such circumstances is more important and crucial than ever before. Articles like these show the way!
In our country, we need to recognize that academic courses in Library & Information Sciences equip librarians to do a lot for information users. Of course, there is an upgrading of skills required and that just needs to be done. We need investments into creating new job descriptions for medical librarians and training them for the same.