Information Literacy Outreach Gets Boosted with New Grant

As the co-owner of a company, Sue Fuhs became its COVID coordinator during the pandemic and persuaded employees to get vaccinated. There was only one holdout, a young man who did his own internet research and insisted he didn’t need to be vaccinated.

“That highlighted for me the fact that, after a few hours of research on the internet, many think they know more than doctors who spend their entire careers researching infectious diseases,” Fuhs said.

Fuhs, who earned an MBA from UCLA, recognized a pressing need to teach young people information literacy, the ability to find, evaluate, and effectively use information in coursework and research as well as make informed decisions about their own lives. Through a foundation established by her father, Dr. Allen Fuhs, she has funded a grant that will enable UCLA librarians to expand the scope and impact of the valuable work they are already doing in this area.

“While we are helping many UCLA students develop core competencies in information literacy, there is new urgency to this topic, especially given the speed at which misinformation and conspiracy theories are proliferating,” said Allison Benedetti, interim associate university librarian for user engagement, who manages many of the librarians engaged in this work.

UCLA Library is uniquely positioned to become a leader in the field. Currently, librarians teach thousands of students each year how to find and evaluate information. They have developed a popular toolkit of lesson plans about misinformation, as well as tutorials on data literacy and evaluating sources.

The grant will enable librarians to develop new strategies to engage more students and to also build on the existing suite of tools. “I consider this grant a bit of a kick-starter,” Fuhs said. Added Benedetti: “This seed grant opens up an opportunity for other funders to help us do even more.”

To learn how you can support media and information literacy at UCLA, please contact Stephanie Kimura at sbkimura@library.ucla.edu.