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We’re in a Data Literacy Crisis. Could Librarians Be the Superheroes We Need?

Forbes – “In his work, Chapters from My Autobiography, Mark Twain famously complained (and attributed to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli), “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Imagine Twain’s frustration in today’s data-driven world. But he would have been in good company. Even as information, analytics, and statistics drive more decisions in our daily lives, we’re facing a data literacy crisis. Qlik’s recently published global data literacy report found that just 24% of business decision-makers surveyed are fully confident in their ability to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data. Just 32% of the C-suite is viewed as data literate, potentially holding senior leaders back from encouraging their workforces to use data to their advantage. Perhaps most surprising, 60% of U.S. workers 16 to 24 years old—people who have been raised surrounded by technology—are overwhelmed by the data they must read and analyze as part of their jobs.  The term “data literacy” has adopted different meanings, depending on context, but generally falls into two categories, says Kristen Fontichiaro, clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information in Ann Arbor. The first is data science, or as she says, “the ability to wrestle with data, use tools like Python and R to make sense of it.”  But data literacy can also be defined from a more consumer perspective: When people encounter numbers, visualizations, and statistics, can they make good decisions about them?

…The good news is that a hard-working legion of data literacy experts is working on equipping a new army of information warriors in the data literacy fight: librarians….”

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