Respond to Wineburg

The introductory story about how the author of a textbook about Virginia incorporated false information she found on the web is incredibly disturbing to me, especially as a librarian. Looking at a superficial level, we can see that the Sons of the Confederate Veterans have a website ending in “org” so someone may be more inclined to trust the information. However, I work with students to consider the motivation and possible biases in information sources. During class and research consultations, I ask students what they think the “purpose” of the website is and what they think the author or group is trying to accomplish. I can’t help but think if the textbook author Masoff had asked herself these questions she would never have included this misinformation. Like Wineburg points out, his early research paper required a trip to the library and a training or entry into the research process. While it is wonderful that we now have such easy access to so much information, I think we have lost some of this training by bypassing the “information keepers” so to speak.

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