Library Toolkit

How Local Libraries Can Create
a Home For News

News Deserts and Libraries

News deserts are areas with little to no local news coverage. An informed electorate is essential to local democracy. Access to information keeps local government and businesses accountable and helps prevent issues such as corruption, discrimination, and misuse of power. 

Libraries can provide appropriate and effective help in news deserts. Libraries specialize in information access and are trusted and neutral sources that operate online as well as in their physical buildings. 

On this page you will learn how the FACTLY (Facts, Accountability, the Library and You) project helps libraries to water news deserts and fill the gap in local news coverage. 

The Problem of News Deserts

What Can Libraries Do?

How Can Libraries Tackle News Deserts

There are thousands of libraries all across America, even in news deserts and otherwise isolated areas. They are trusted sources of information at the hyper local level.

Librarians are trained to source and evaluate information and then present it in a factual manner without editorializing.

There are several traditional roles that libraries play which can be readily adapted to help with news deserts, without straying from the mission of the library.

Librarians at reference desks are often asked to verify a fact or to provide information on government or business that cannot readily be found in the phone book.

The FACTLY project assists libraries in the creation of a Fact or Fiction service on rumors and stories in their area, Watchdog information on local agencies and businesses, agendas and ‘plain English’ minutes of public meetings.

FACTLY libraries are a listening post in news deserts and can suggest possible news items for further investigation. The aim of the program is to pair urban journalists with FACTLY libraries to create content for their pages and to alert hot shot teams of any breaking news items of national or regional interest.

FACTLY libraries have use of media literacy and citizen journalism resources to train citizens to be good information consumers and distributors.

There have been other projects aimed at tackling news deserts. The FACTLY project is unique in that it mobilizes a strong network of trusted and neutral information providers that are already in place. The strict neutrality of libraries and lack of interpretive reporting and editorializing envisioned by this project makes it stand apart from other traditional news services. Just the facts with FACTLY.

What does FACTLY offer?

News deserts are a fundamental problem for democracy and accountability in America. FACTLY proposes that libraries have an important role to play in watering news deserts.

The FACTLY project explains the issues, provides educational materials, templates and support to empower under resourced libraries in news deserts.

The long-term goal of the project is to pair urban reporters and journalism students working remotely with news desert libraries to populate their own FACTLY subpages. FACTLY pages include our media literacy and citizen journalism resources and templates for Fact or Fiction, Watchdog and other content customized to an individual news desert area.