May 24, 2022

Just Published: “Lizard People in the Library” by Barbara Fister, Premier Essay in Project Information Literacy’s (PIL) New “Provocation Series”

UPDATE (2/18): “The Librarian War Against QAnon” by Barbara Fister (via The Atlantic)
Note: The article linked above was adapted from the complete essay linked below.

—End Update—

From a Project Information Literacy Announcement:

Building on a solid decade of our own original research into students’ information practices in the digital age, the Project Information Literacy (PIL) Provocation Series offers new insights, drawing from scholarship and the flow of current events in these most unusual times. At a time when finding reliable news and information is more difficult than ever, PIL will post a new long-form essay every two months to spark discussions about pressing issues, ideas, and concerns.

Our premier essay is by Barbara Fister, a leading thinker about libraries, students, information literacy, and higher education. “Lizard People in the Library,” asks, “How have conspiracy theorists managed to seize the banner of ‘research it yourself’ from the classroom?” Too often students have been treated as naive information consumers who, if properly trained, can make more sophisticated shopping choices about what information they can use for a task. In the case of media literacy, learners are often positioned as audiences learning how to review media objects as savvy consumers, able to challenge media messages critically and reject those that prove to be faulty. But these canned classroom situations don’t necessarily transfer to more complex realities.

With this new series, PIL hopes to formalize and voice pressing information literacy and media literacy issues, ideas, and concerns while raising solutions or new ways of thinking for plotting a way forward. At the same time, the Series hopes to be a source for building stronger community among libraries for creating better teaching and learning opportunities for students, librarians, and educators, while identifying new directions that inform future research.

Direct to Essay: “Lizard People in the Library” by Barbara Fister

See Also: Barbara Fister on What Inspired this Essay

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.