by Joe Grobelny
We must wrestle with truth because:
Even if we admit that not all information-seeking behavior is directed at determining the truth, we have to admit that a large percentage of it is. And, if librarians are to develop policies about how to organize information, develop procedures for handling morally difficult reference requests, instruct others in appropriate evaluative techniques, or any other of our duties, then we need to understand this thing called ‘information’ and how it relates to ‘knowledge’. Given that truth is integral to knowledge (and perhaps to information, too) it follows that truth is a professional concern.
-Lane Wilkinson, Sense and Reference
We are engaging in information literacy and have to be clear about what truth, to us, actually is, because:
Baudrillard’s pataphysical projections of his own fantastic universe of runaway signs encourage academics to embrace ludic forms of postmodernism for the radical posture it affords them as a cover for their role as passive supplicants of history and to avoid the concrete politics that Freire speaks about.
-Peter McLaren and Tomaz Tadeu da Silva, Decentering Pedagogy: Critical Literacy, resistance, and the politics of memory,p.85 in Paulo Freire: A Critical Encounter (1993)
Making truth an integral part of our instruction is a first-order priority. If we say we are teaching patrons and students to be “information literate,” which is to be able to navigate the multitude of voices around them and use information and knowledge to create their own voice, then we cannot shy away from truth, and especially not the social, political, and economic problems that surround the systems of information management and the creation of knowledge. We need to refine our voices, and understand how we play into those problems as well. I’m looking at you, librarians.
Joe Grobelny is a reference librarian at the Jerry Crail Johnson Earth Sciences and Map Library at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He blogs regularly at http://birdswithteeth.wordpress.com/