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Mary Francis
Mary Francis, DSU librarian, is also vice-president of the South Dakota Library Association. She was recently in Pierre to advocate on behalf of libraries.

Libraries help teach evaluation of information

Academics, Admissions

When it comes to information, “Evaluation is so important,” said Mary Francis, DSU assistant professor/reference librarian. This is an especially important life skill in light of recent fake news reports, she added.

Francis supported this statement by noting the results of a Stanford study released in November, which showed that young people can be “duped” and have difficulty discerning true news from sponsored content. Students “had a hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles or identifying where information came from,” Brooke Donald reported on the Stanford Graduate School of Education web page.

“The authors worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish,” the November 22, 2016 release continued.

This concern shows the importance of libraries, Francis said, because it is in libraries such as the Mundt Library where people learn how to find and evaluate information.

“We teach [students] how to evaluate and see if they have good information,” she said. While they currently use that skill to evaluate information for papers and class projects, it is something they will use their whole lives. It is “a skill to keep developing and working on,” Francis said, so “there will always be a need for libraries.”

To this end, Francis traveled to Pierre last month to advocate for libraries with the legislature. The trip was part of her official duties as vice-president/president-elect of the South Dakota Library Association (SDLA). She will take over as president in September.

Her service benefits the Karl Mundt Library as well as the SDLA. “Promoting one library promotes them all,” Francis said, as all have the same goal of service, to help their patrons, whether they are young children, students, or adults.

As an SDLA officer, Francis will be able “to bring back to DSU [an] increasing knowledge of what is happening all over the state and nation in libraries,” said Jan Enright, director of the Karl Mundt Library. “She will no doubt be an exemplary ambassador for DSU in all she does, as she contributes to our profession and to libraries in South Dakota.”

Francis’ nine years of experience at the Mundt Library is a benefit to the SDLA. “People from throughout the state already knew her as an excellent librarian who was willing to share her expertise with others,” Enright added.

As an officer, Francis feels she can bring to the SDLA “a belief in and understanding of libraries,” and a willingness to hear about things libraries do to adapt to the changing times. SDLA is celebrating 100 years of “Ideas, Innovation & Inclusion,” as the state-wide organization continues to represent libraries, library employees, library trustees, and library supporters with leadership and educational opportunities.

Francis finds that her work with librarians across the state “reinvigorates you,” by hearing touching stories and seeing the importance of libraries. This provides inspiration, so “you keep doing the work you do.”