A framework for librarians to inform the citizenry during disasters : reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic
Chisita, Collence T.
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Globally, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has wreaked havoc on human lives and socio-economic activities at an unimaginable scale. African countries have not been spared from this debacle – as evidenced by media reports of loss of lives, lockdown, isolation and desolation coupled with loss of livelihood. Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic rages, libraries find themselves at the epicentre of an unprecedented crisis in the form of an information deluge that requires a multi-thronged approach to ensure information hygienic practices in information management. In order to fight COVID-19, librarians and related information professionals with relevant tools should aim at helping prevent COVID-19 pandemic infodemic (coroinfodeluge). This article explores how libraries and librarians can contribute to the fight against COVID-19 through waging wars in the realm of access to information amidst an avalanche of disinformation. This article analysed how librarians can be proactive in contributing to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic through innovative strategies that ensure an informed citizenry. The study used qualitative content analysis as the study design. Documents were retrieved from trusted websites and they were coded before analysis. These documents included legal instruments, scholarly publications from accredited databases including Elsevier and Emerald. The study found out that librarians were not included in the national programmes to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, yet they possess potential to contribute to the fight against misinformation by educating citizens on information hygienic practices, for example, by directing users to credible or trustworthy sources on the pandemic. The study concluded that librarians can be useful stakeholders to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic and infodemic because they possess knowledge and skills relating to critical literacies that are needed in the 21st century. It recommends a collaborative framework that includes community leaders and strategic partners – to help librarians ensure that the citizenry is not misinformed during emergencies.