Information Literacy Awareness Month

October is Information Literacy Awareness Month and here at the Reference Desk it is one of our favorite topics.  What does it mean to be information literate? According to the American Library Association, it simply means that you can “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.”

But in reality, that’s anything but simple! Misinformation and propaganda websites have become increasingly sophisticated. And yet, in an age of social media, we’ve all become editors and producers of content. We have a big responsibility to know what we are sharing and who created it.

So how can you know where the information you see comes from? How do you decide when to click “share” on an article you’ve found? There are some great tools available to dig into those sources. Some of our favorites include:


This is a great source for finding out about popular topics in the news. You can search by common subjects or search for your own term.


When you want to find out the validity of a current claim in the news or social media, or something you’ve seen on a meme, Snopes is your best bet. The coverage is updated frequently and covers most major news stories. They rigorously fact check claims and rate them on a number of variables including “mostly true,” “misattributed” and “labeled satire,” helping you understand where stories began and how they evolved.

AllSides helps you explore how different news outlets cover the same story. You can see recent headlines from news sources across the political spectrum and notice how wording and emphasis can change the story’s impact.

How to Fact Check

The Albuquerque Public Library also has great guide to fact checking that can help you understand and interpret misleading news.

The Four Moves

This strategy from Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers, a free online book, is a great tool to evaluate any source, including photos.

You can also take a look at some books and other materials we have in our collection by clicking here.

And remember, we are here to help! Contact the Reference Desk and we are happy to help you determine where a story came from, who created a website, or how to find reliable sources. Email us at or call us during our open hours at (515) 222-3403.


American Library Association. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report. (Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.)