Search engines are an essential tool for finding information online. As with most tools, the more you know about how to use them effectively, the better results you can have.
PLA and Google know that library staff are trusted facilitators and guides in boosting these information literacy skills. With growing challenges rooted in misinformation, this role is only becoming more important. Building on a 2022 Super Searchers pilot with Public Libraries 2030 and Google, PLA is extending the brief and effective training to help equip more busy library staff with tools to help patrons search more efficiently and critically engage online information.
The Super Searchers training and toolkit provide resources for Google users to understand the context that surrounds what they find when searching the Web. Built on work developed by University of Washington researcher Mike Caulfield, this can be a useful resource for library workers as they perform their own duties and help patrons think critically about the information they consume. PLA presents the toolkit here along with additional context and resources for library workers.
We want to hear from you! How do you engage patrons regarding misinformation? Do you have stories to share—positive or negative? Send your anecdotes or questions to project coordinator Toby Greenwalt.
Super Searchers Toolkit
Google has prepared a slide deck for library workers to guide colleagues and patrons through the Super Searchers program. This includes a breakdown of core information literacy context as well as overview of the new information evaluation tools built into Google Search.
- “Welcome Super Searchers” Booklet (PDF)
- Slide Decks and Resource Guides in Translation (English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian)
- Further background on Google Search
Super Searchers Video Guides
These brief videos outline the individual steps of the SIFT framework employed by the Super Searchers training.
- Stop and Think Critically
- Investigate the Source
- Find Better Coverage
- Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media
Super Searchers for Library Workers
The ease with which misinformation can be created and spread online endangers everyday discourse—and libraries are uniquely suited to help counteract its negative effects. Using research developed at University of Washington, Google has created a new set of tools for evaluating material found online, making it easier to think critically about the veracity of digital information right at the point of search. In this interactive presentation, library consultant Toby Greenwalt will demonstrate the capabilities of Super Searchers and showcase potential applications in the library workspace. Choose the webinar that best fits your schedule! Core content will be the same across the three remaining dates below.
- October 24, 2023, 1:00–2:00 PM Central
- November 28, 2023, 1:00–2:00 PM Central
- December 12, 2023, 1:00–2:00 PM Central
Beyond Super Searchers: Public Libraries in the Age of Misinformation
The spread of digital misinformation continues to have profound effects on the physical world, and libraries are in no way immune. How can the profession use its information literacy and critical thinking skills to understand the current landscape and better inoculate itself against these effects? In this webinar, we’ll take a look at some of ways misinformation has impacted public library service, and how libraries can better operate in this rapidly changing environment.
This panel features multiple perspectives on the effects of online misinformation and offers first-person narratives on the threats and opportunities presented.
View the archived recording of the Super Searchers training. However, we encourage you to participate in a live webinar if possible (see above).
Other Information Literacy Resources
The following resources offer a deeper dive into some of the concepts applied in Super Searchers and related resources in the library community.
The SIFT Method: Researcher Mike Caulfield’s work on misinformation and critical thinking provides the foundation upon which Super Searchers is built.
Information Literacy in Libraries: Recent research provides indicators that libraries can help people better evaluate information. The following provides additional resources specifically for library workers.
- “Most Americans – especially Millennials – say libraries can help them find reliable, trustworthy information.” Pew Research Center, August 20, 2017
- American Library Association Literacy Clearinghouse
- AASL Standards Framework for Learners (PDF)
- ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education
- Media Literacy Education in Libraries for Adult Audiences
Other Trends: Emerging technologies such as AI require ongoing awareness in order to separate facts from misinformation.