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New Year’s resolutions- many of us love to make them but very few of us actually complete them. Perhaps it is because we set unrealistic goals or just lack follow through, or maybe it is because we set good intentions without knowing how we can actually achieve our goals and resolutions? This year, set yourself up for success by taking advantage of all the free resources your Indianapolis Public Library offers for a new year, new skills. If your goal is to master sourdough baking or perfect your knife skills, we have classes and books for that. Want to become a runner? We can help with that too! Want to learn a new language, discover a new craft, develop a reading habit, or learn to code? We can help you with all of those things as well. All you need is a resolution and your Library card!

Learn Computer Skills at the Library

We offer a variety of computer, technology, and mobile skill classes. You can also learn how to download and stream with your Library card and get a variety of tips and tricks on our blog at tech & mobile skills.

  • Event: Career Center at Haughville
  • Date & Time: Monday, February 26, 1:00pm
  • Location: Haughville Branch
  • Description: Adults needing help with creating a resume, searching for a job or career online, or filling out an online job application are invited to receive free one-on-one assistance.
  • No Registration Required.
  • Event: Career Center at Garfield Park
  • Date & Time: Monday, February 26, 5:00pm
  • Location: Garfield Park Branch
  • Description: Adults and teens needing help with creating a resume, searching for a job or career online, or filling out an online job application are invited to receive free one-on-one assistance.
  • No Registration Required.

Learn a New Craft or Hobby

We offer both free in-person classes and crafting activities and online tutorials through Creativebug. Learn everything from a new painting technique, how to use that Cricut you haven’t gotten out of the box yet, 3D printing, and so much more in the style you prefer!

  • Event: Crafternoon at West Indianapolis
  • Date & Time: Monday, February 26, 2:30pm
  • Location: West Indianapolis Branch
  • Description: Crafternoon at West Indy is an arts and crafts club. You can bring your current creative project to work on or use our supplies to start something new! Everyone is welcome. Join us every Monday at 2:30 p.m. for an afternoon of crafting, conversation, and being creative.
  • No Registration Required.
  • Event: Anime Club
  • Date & Time: Monday, February 26, 5:30pm
  • Location: East 38th Street Branch
  • Description: Teens Ages 12-18 are invited for crafts, snacks, and some classic Anime on the Community Room big screen.
  • No Registration Required.

Level Up Your Reading, Listening, or Watching Game

Did you resolve to read more pages, explore audiobooks for the first time, watch a documentary a week, or explore a new genre in 2022? We can help you with all of your reading, watching, or listening resolutions. You don’t need a Spotify, Audible, or Amazon Prime subscription; all you need is your Library card! Looking for a reading challenge to start off the new year? Join our #WakeUpIndy challenge now!

Take an Online Course

Did you know that with your Library card, you have free access to Great Courses through Kanopy? The Great Courses cover Finance, Health, Hobbies, Food and Wine, History, Literature and Language, Math and Science, Music and Fine Arts, Philosophy, Professional and Personal Growth, Travel, Programs for Young Learners, and more. Start learning.

Learn a Language

¿Hablas español? Sprichst du Deutsch? If the answer to either of these questions is no but you would like to, try Mango Languages. Mango is a free language learning website that can also be used on a smartphone as an app. Learn or master a new language without having to pay for Duolingo! Get Started with Mango Languages

Start a Garden

Did you know that we have a seed library? From March-September, you can check out seeds from any seed library location and you don’t even have to return them or the wonderful plants you will grow. We also offer books, classes, and tips to help you develop a green thumb!

Start or Expand a Workout Routine

The most popular New Year’s Resolution is to start or grow an exercise routine. The Library might not be the first place you think about for physical fitness unless you think about lifting heavy books as weights, but did you know that we have hundreds of exercise classes available to check out on DVD or to stream online? We also have a Fit Lit Book Club, Tai Chi classes, and expert staff members who have compiled their favorite exercise information for you.

Cook Something

Explore new recipes, food or beverages from different cultures from around the world or a different region of the United States, check out a food magazine online or even take a plant-based cooking class.

Explore Your Genealogy

Whether you are a first-time family tree maker or an expert researcher, we can help you explore your family heritage through our numerous databases and services. Within our branches, you can access Ancestry Library Edition for free and from anywhere, you can access research databases, newspapers, or even a video course from Kanopy on how to get started learning about your background or Get Genealogy Classes & Research Help.

Get Organized

From Marie Kondo to the Flylady system, organization can take many shapes and forms depending on what your personal style is. Learn about these systems and more ways to clear the clutter for good by picking up one of our staff recommended reads on organization.

Build your digital life skills with IndyPL this Digital Inclusion Week. The digital divide is the gap between those who have affordable access, skills, and support to effectively engage online, and those who do not. This divide impacts households in Indianapolis. The Library helps bridge the gap with free public computers and wifi, free computer skill training, and helpful staff to support those still developing their digital life skills.

Every year Digital Inclusion Week is a time for raising awareness, advocating for digital equity, and promoting the many resources available to help people take advantage of digital technology. Digital Inclusion Week for 2023 is October 2 – 6. We hope you’ll join us this year as we celebrate by building our digital life skills.

Read on for suggested activities you can complete to develop your own digital skills or help you take action to support digital equity in Indianapolis. Learn more about all the services The Library offers to help get you connected to the Internet. Use our computers and other technologies, both in our locations and at home. Our services are available every week, all year long.

1. Develop Your Digital Skills at The Library

You can take computer and technology classes to build your digital life skills at The Library throughout the year. Build your digital skills with a learning plan custom designed for you.

Take an assessment in English or Spanish on The Library’s Northstar Digital Literacy platform and get feedback with a learning plan tailored to the skills you need most. Assessments offered include: Basic Computer Skills, Internet Basics, Using Email, Windows 10, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Docs, Information Literacy, Career Search Skills, and Your Digital Footprint. Register for an at-home assessment to complete online or attend an in-person class. See the Tech Learning Lab’s complete program schedule. Once you have a learning plan, you can work at your own pace to tackle online lessons to develop the digital life sklll you need most. Browse our complete listing of computer and technology classes:

  • Event: Career Center at Haughville
  • Date & Time: Monday, February 26, 1:00pm
  • Location: Haughville Branch
  • Description: Adults needing help with creating a resume, searching for a job or career online, or filling out an online job application are invited to receive free one-on-one assistance.
  • No Registration Required.
  • Event: Career Center at Garfield Park
  • Date & Time: Monday, February 26, 5:00pm
  • Location: Garfield Park Branch
  • Description: Adults and teens needing help with creating a resume, searching for a job or career online, or filling out an online job application are invited to receive free one-on-one assistance.
  • No Registration Required.

2. Find affordable device access in your neighborhood.

You can also use your Library card to check out a Chromebook laptop and a device called a hotspot to connect to the Internet for free. A WiFi hotspot provides a link to the Internet from anyplace you plug it in! Borrow a hotspot or Chromebook from one of our 12 locations that currently lend them. Availability for these devices is during regular branch hours. The Chromebooks and Hot Spots are not-requestable, or renewable, but are available for check out first come, first serve.

3. Have internet but suspect it isn’t reliable? Can’t get broadband to your home? Share your experience.

Indiana’s State Broadband Office is helping Hoosiers use their voice when it comes to their unreliable or absent broadband connectivity. Visit this website that allows users to test internet speed and answer questions regarding their connectivity.

4. Help map the solutions to the digital devide in your neighborhood.

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Explore Indiana’s Digital Equity Map to find resources in your community. Have a resource you want to share? Submit your community digital inclusion resource to help support the states first Digital Equity Plan.

Need help? Ask a Library staff member at any of our locations or call, text or email Ask-a-Librarian.

Learn more about some of our most frequently asked questions about voting and elections. For more information visit the Indiana State Government Voter Information Portal. Or visit the Marion County Voter Portal for local information.

Remember to bring ID

You must have your valid photo ID issued by the state of Indiana or the federal government with you. The Supreme Court upheld the requirement of an Indiana State ID to vote. Public Law 109-2005 requires Indiana residents to present a government-issued photo ID.

This law requires your photo ID to meet four criteria to be acceptable for voting purposes. See the four requirements your photo ID must include.

Where can I get an ID?

VoteRiders provides 100% free voter assistance. Get help:

  • obtaining documents (birth certificates, change of name records, etc.)
  • arranging rides to and from ID–issuing offices
  • providing copies of ID for those eligible to vote by mail

Contact by phone 844-338-8743.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I vote?

The National Geographic Society provides good information on why it is important that everyone exercise their right to vote

What are my rights as a voter?

The Indiana Voters Bill of Rights available in English and Spanish.

Where is my polling place?

Find out where to vote by choosing “Find Your Polling Place” on the Voter Information Portal.

How can I turn in my registration form?

Registration forms may be mailed to or dropped off at the Marion County Board of Voter Registration. According to the Indiana Secretary of State’s Election Division “[To] vote in a primary or general election, you must register at least twenty-nine (29) days before that election. A mail-in voter registration application must be postmarked at least twenty-nine (29) days in advance of that election.”

Can I (avoid long waits and) vote early?

All registered Indiana voters are eligible to vote early in-person. See more information on how to vote early in Indiana.

What if I can’t vote on Election Day?

For people who cannot travel to their polling place on Election Day, an absentee ballot can be used. To see if you are eligible to vote absentee, or to download an online application, go to the Marion County Election Voter Information Portal Absentee Forms. Also, you may call the Election Board at 317-327-8683 to have a form mailed to you. Early voters, military and overseas voters, and a travelling board for sick, injured or disabled voters and their caregivers may all be eligible for absentee voting.

What if I need a ride to my polling place to vote?

The Marion County Democratic, Libertarian, and Republican parties provide transportation to the polls to residents of Marion County. When calling, give your name, address, and telephone number.

Libertarian Party of Marion County
2825 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46220 (317) 643-5725

Marion County Democratic Party
114 West St. Clair Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204 (317) 637-3366

Marion County Republican Party
101 West Ohio Street Suite 2200
Indianapolis, IN 46204 (317) 964-5050

Who are the candidates running for office?

To find a list of candidates on the ballot that you will be voting for, you can access them at the Voter Information Portal. Click on the yellow icon “Who’s on the Ballot?” You will need to put in your name and your birthdate as well as the county where you are registered to vote. You will find a list of the candidates who currently on the ballot.

Where can I find information about the candidates?

To find out more about each candidate you can easily find them online by searching their names on Google. Remember to consider who is providing the information on any site about a candidate and consider if the site may be biased. One reliable site is called Ballot Ready presented by the National Science Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

Where can I find the facts I find?

There are several good sites for fact checking – two easy-to-use options are Fact Check and Politifact. Another interesting one is NewsGuard, which works as a Chrome browser extension.

I am a college student, what should I know about voting?

The Student Voting Guide specifically helps students better understand how to vote.

What is the Electoral College and how does it work?

For an explanation of how the college works, including statistics and historical counts, visit the National Archives and Records Administration.

How can I find out who my current government representatives are?

Your current elected officials can be accessed at the Voter Information Portal. You can click on the yellow icon “Find Elected Officials” to pull up a map and enter your address. Then you can choose Federal, State, County, Township, or school officials.

You can also view maps of your districts at Indiana Election Division – Statistics and Maps. If you have questions about your districts, you can call the Marion County Board of Voter Registrationat 317-327-5042.

Where can I find election results?

Official Marion County election results are available from the Voter Information Portal. Click on “Election Night Results” or on “Historical Election Results.”. Official results from current and past elections throughout the state of Indiana are provided by the Election Division of the Indiana Secretary of State’s office.

The Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives also provides Election Statistics from 1920 to 2014.

Reading Recommendations from IndyPL Staff

Title - Vote for Me!Title - Monster Needs your VoteTitle - One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You VoteTitle - Vote for Me!

salad

Would you like to to mix up your usual rotation of tried-and true recipes? Would you like to more about healthy and sustainable cooking? Join us for an upcoming cooking class or explore our collection of recipe books, e-books, and e-magazines.

Cooking Programs

Teen Chef…
  • Event: Teen Chef
  • Date & Time: Monday, March 04, 5:00pm
  • Location: East 38th Street Branch
  • Description: Want to upgrade your skills in the kitchen or build on the cooking knowledge you already have? Join Nutrition Services in a hands-on cooking workshop that merges healthy eating with culinary skills.
  • Register Here
Culinary Book Club - Healthy E…
Teen Chef…
  • Event: Teen Chef
  • Date & Time: Tuesday, March 12, 3:30pm
  • Location: College Avenue Branch
  • Description: Want to upgrade your skills in the kitchen or build on the cooking knowledge you already have? Join Nutrition Services in a hands-on cooking workshop that merges healthy eating with culinary skills.
  • Register Here

Get New York Times Cooking – free with your Library card!

Did you know that your library card gives you free 24-hour access to the recipes in the New York Times? You must first create a New York Times account if you don’t already have one.

  1. Visit The New York Times: Cooking
  2. Enter your library card barcode number and click “Get Code.”
  3. Click “Redeem” to submit your randomly generated access code.
  4. Since you need to have a New York Times online account to use the code, the next step prompts you to create an account, which is free, or to log in to your existing account.
  5. You now have access to the New York Times for 24 hours. After the 24 hours are up, you may redeem another code for 24-hour access. Enjoy!

Borrow e-cookbooks, foodie e-magazines and movies from home!

Use your library card to check out cookbooks, magazines, and movies from home. Take a trip around the world from your kitchen with these e-books featuring an array of international recipes. There are over 3,000 e-cookbooks available for check out on Hoopla and 3,500 MORE cookbooks to choose from in OverDrive.

And if the e-cookbooks aren’t enough, check out Flipster, an online service you can use to check out magazines like Food and WineCooking Light, or Allrecipes.

Still looking for ideas? There are over 300 foodie movies in Kanopy. The category Cooking ranges from Supersize Me To American Masters: James Beard America’s First Foodie and includes topics like winemaking and sustainable food habits.

If you have never used any of these online services before you can get help on download and streaming.

Get reading recommendations from our staff.

Browse these featured cookbook recommendation lists created by IndyPL staff to unlock some recipe inspiration, enjoy a chef’s memoir, and more. Find more delicious reads by browsing our complete collection of cookbook recommendations.

Korean Cooking: Beyond Kimchi Fried Rice

I have some dear friends who are Korean – a second family of sorts. Over the years, they have introduced me to the wonders of Korean food. This list is my attempt to better understand and appreciate Korean food – through the process of starting to cook it for myself! Whether you’re new to Korean cuisine or a seasoned expert, I hope you will enjoy this curated list of cookbooks and guides.

Title - Korean Food Made SimpleTitle - Cook Korean!Title - Quick & Easy Korean CookingTitle - Maangchi

Indiana Cookbooks and Restaurants

Do you enjoy trying different restaurants around Marion County whenever you have the chance? Do you enjoy cooking and trying out different recipes? This list celebrates Indiana restaurants through the years and recipes to try.

Title - Cafe IndianaTitle - Cafe Indiana CookbookTitle - The Classic Hoosier CookbookTitle - Sunrise Cookbook

Stream With Sherry! Cooking videos to stream!

Here’s a list of streaming cooking programs for you to enjoy. Included are many different types of food – even some healthy ones!

Title - The Everyday GourmetTitle - Make the Most of your Pressure Cooker - Season 1Title - The Everyday GourmetTitle - Cooking Basics: What Everyone Should Know

The Instant Pot: Your New Best Friend!

Dear Instant Pot, Thank you for coming into my life and reducing the difficulty of my kitchen routine. Cooking shouldn’t be torture, and you’ve shown me that. I hope this list helps others find solace in their kitchens!

Title - The Instant Pot BibleTitle - Instant Pot MiracleTitle - The Essential Instant Pot CookbookTitle - How to Instant Pot

Asian and Pacific Island Cookbooks

Asian and Pacific Island food is a diverse set of cuisines that encompass many flavors and styles of cooking. Many of these cookbooks center how Asian cooking comes about in immigrant and disaporic communities, while celebrating the evolution of cultures.

Title - MelizTitle - How to Make Sushi at HomeTitle - Cook Real HawaiʻiTitle - Pomegranates & Artichokes

Cooking up a Good Read

Who doesn’t love a good mystery, complete with recipes? Even someone like me who doesn’t cook can enjoy these delicious mysteries – and possibly the recipes as well.

Title - The Body in the BelfryTitle - The Whole EnchiladaTitle - Murder Simply BrewedTitle - Murder With Lemon Tea Cakes

Jewish and Kosher Cuisine

To know a culture is to know its food. Here is a collection of cookbooks that celebrate Jewish culture and cuisine. You’ll find traditional favorites and kosher meals as well as modern recreations for those looking to meet vegan or paleo diets.

Title - Cooking Alla GiudiaTitle - Honey Cake & LatkesTitle - KoshersoulTitle - Modern Jewish Comfort Food

tomatoes

The IndyPL Seed Library

Did you know we provide free seeds for check-out? The IndyPL Seed Library is available at many of our locations during regular branch hours from late March through September. Use your library card to start your vegetable, herb, or even flower garden for free! New to gardening? We provide materials and programs to make gardening in Indianapolis a doable goal for beginners.

Programs

Gloved hands planting a garden.
  • Event: Homeschool at the Library
  • Date & Time: Wednesday, March 13, 1:00pm
  • Location: Spades Park Branch
  • Description: There is a lot to consider when planning a garden: What will you grow? Where will you grow it? When should you start? Learn about how to grow your own food, how to plan your garden, and start your own container plant! This program is designed for homeschooling families, but all are welcome.
  • Register Here
  • Event: West Perry Gardening Group
  • Date & Time: Friday, March 15, 10:15am
  • Location: West Perry Branch
  • Description: Gardens are essentially a place of sharing and gardeners know that we learn a lot from each other–whether you’re just starting or experienced. Sessions will feature seasonal discussions with a local Master Gardener, resources–like our Seed Library–and connections with other gardeners.
  • No Registration Required.
  • Event: Spring Festival at Wayne
  • Date & Time: Monday, March 18, 2:45pm
  • Location: Wayne Branch
  • Description: Come for a variety of spring-themed activities. There will be stories, crafts, games, and prizes for all. You’ll even get your own zinnia plant to take home!
  • No Registration Required.

View on Demand

Learn on Demand Video: Seed Saving
Join Anika Williams from the Pike Branch of The Indianapolis Public Library as she harvests milkweed seeds on site and discusses the Seed Library available there.

Reading Recommendations from our Staff

Browse these featured staff book lists to help improve your gardening in Indianapolis skills. See all our gardening book lists here.

Gardening in Indianapolis Resources

Follow Purdue Extension, one of the best ways to learn about gardening in Indiana. Browse their recommended online resources:

Gardening for Kids

Subscribe to NextReads to receive Home, Garden & DIY reading recommendation in your inbox monthly. Book suggestions are linked to our catalog for easy requesting. It’s FREE! See a sample issue. Subscribe to NextReads!

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax. ~ Albert Einstein. It’s time to file your taxes! Many Library patrons rely on IndyPL for tax forms and filing instruction booklets.

In order to encourage more tax payers to file electronically, both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Indiana State Department of Revenue (DOR) are limiting distribution of paper forms and instructions. Here is what to expect if you come into a Library for tax documents.

  • We have preprinted packets of the most common tax forms and schedule forms for free to patrons – first come, first served and only one packet per patron. (Download PDF Packet)
  • You may use a Library computer to view tax instructions and booklets online, or you can print them on our printers. The first four black-and-white pages printed are free. Each page printed after that will be $0.15 per black-and-white page.
  • We offer a limited number of Federal 1040 and Indiana IT-40 booklets at some branch locations.
  • Library staff cannot help you select or fill out your tax forms.
  • See our Frequently Asked Questions below for more information.

Links to printable tax forms online or by phone:

Tax preparation help:

  • The East 38th St. Branch will serve as a Volunteer Tax Assistance Program location by appointment in February through the middle of April. Please call 317-275-4352 for more information beginning January 16.
  • Garfield Park Tax Resources
    Friday, March 15 at 2:30 pm Register
    Friday, April 12 at 2:30 p.m. Register
    Come find out how to locate, print, and find resources to help prepare you to fill out your taxes. Plus, learn how to tell which websites are official government sites and which are not.
  • File Federal Taxes Free Online (if income under $79,000)
  • United Way provides MyFreeTaxes.com in partnership with the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to help filers prepare their tax returns on their own or have their return prepared for them for free. You can also call MyFreeTaxes at 866-698-9435 Jan. 24 – Oct. 31.

FAQ Filing Taxes

How do I print documents at The Library?

You can print from indypl.org/printing using the URL of a file, or by uploading a file from your device. You can also easily print from Library computers, or ask a staff member for help.

Can I get free help filing my taxes?

Library staff cannot help fill out forms, but here are some links to local organizations that can help:

See our booklist for suggestions for learning more about filing income taxes.

Where can I find IRA Information?

Do you have a Roth or a Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA)? Use these links to find the latest information on contribution limits and withdrawals.

Learning to knit or improving your knitting skills has never been easier with The Library’s online service, Creativebug. Creativebug has in-depth, online, on-demand video tutorials and classes that include transcripts, material lists, and patterns. Instructors are also accessible and willing to answer your questions. All you need is your IndyPL library card!

Improve your knitting skills with free online tutorials.

Already an expert knitter? Creativebug has an extensive curated pattern library with the latest and greatest in knit creations. You can save videos to watch later, follow your favorite instructors, and even upload images of your creations to make connections with other crafters in the community.

Here are examples of available classes for improving your knitting skills:

Create an account in Creativebug using your library card number, and then click on the link that says “See Latest Classes Here.” If you are just interested in the Pattern Library, that link will take you to the main site.

Need help? Ask a Library staff member at any of our locations or call, text or email Ask-a-Librarian.

Get inspiration for improving your knitting skills.

If you need more evidence for the power of making, or something to read or listen to while you work, check out the following books on how creation can help bring meaning and purpose to our lives:

Join us at an upcoming Library program.

  • Event: Crochet-A-Long at Michigan Road
  • Date & Time: Tuesday, March 05, 6:00pm
  • Location: Michigan Road Branch
  • Description: Those who enjoy crocheting, knitting, or other fiber arts are invited to learn a new craft and make something for the homeless. Basic supplies will be provided at the meeting. Bring along your works in progress to work on or with the group.
  • No Registration Required.
  • Event: Floss ‘n’ Goss Fiber Arts Club
  • Date & Time: Tuesday, March 19, 6:00pm
  • Location: Central Library
  • Description: Floss ‘n’ Goss is a monthly fiber arts club where people of all ages and skill levels are welcome to work on their current thready projects in a collaborative and supportive setting! You bring your crafts, we bring the vibes!
  • Register Here
  • Event: Fiber Arts Club at Lawrence
  • Date & Time: Saturday, March 23, 10:30am
  • Location: Lawrence Branch
  • Description: Knitters, crocheters, and fiber artists of all kinds are welcome to join monthly group of like-minded people who love to knit and crochet; no matter the level of proficiency or the age. Limited supplies for beginners are available. Please register. Walk-ins welcome when space is available.
  • Register Here

Get reading recommendations from IndyPL staff.

Knitting My Way to Peace

I’ll be honest, I love to knit. I find it very soothing and relaxing. I enjoy tv more when my hands are busy. Knitting is easy to learn and The Library has lots of resources to help the neophyte and challenge the veteran knitter.

Title - Learn to KnitTitle - Learn How to Knit With 50 SquaresTitle - Easy Knit DishclothsTitle - The Chicks With Sticks Guide to Knitting

Needlework and Mysteries

Needlework of all kinds….sewing, knitting, crocheting, weaving and embroidery are featured in these first books of various mystery series.

Title - Seams Like MurderTitle - On Skein of DeathTitle - Hems & HomicideTitle - The Vampire Knitting Club

Knitting!

Whether you are a beginning knitter or the nerdiest of needlers, the collection at the Indianapolis Public Library has materials for you. Check out our array of books, online resources, and DVDs that are sure to get your needles clicking and your yarn flying!

Title - Vogue KnittingTitle - First Time KnittingTitle - Japanese Knitting Stitch BibleTitle - Mason-Dixon Knitting

It has always been true that the passing of information can go wrong, like the game “telephone,” in which a piece of information distorts the more times it passes from one person to the next. But sometimes information is false to begin with, or is purposely distorted to mislead an audience. Rising social and political upheaval make the importance of finding accurate news information with thorough, and timely information more vital than ever – in some cases, it can be literally life or death.

Since the rise of social media and the ease with which messages, photos, and videos can spread, it is more crucial than ever to develop skills for finding accurate information as well as spotting inaccurate information. There are some simple tools available to help you give what you see and hear an accuracy check. These skills are for all information consuming people from kids to adults. You can begin honing your information skills in three easy steps.

3 Steps to Improve Information Literacy Skills

1. Learn the Vocabulary

News stories and social media posts can fall in different places on a scale from “true but misleading” to” completely false.” Inaccuracies can be honest mistakes or deliberate attempts to spread false information. It is good to know the words that describe these differences. Knowing them helps us name the problem we see when we read something that doesn’t quite add up.

Some news stories are purposely written to mislead:

  • fake news: news stories that are untrue and never happened
  • disinformation: false information that is purposely made up and spread to hide the truth or spread a lie to make it seem like the truth
  • ommission: purposely misleading by leaving out important details

Some news stories mistakenly report false information:

  • misinformation: inaccurate information that is mistakenly reported and spread due to an error or mistake; there was no intention to mislead the audience
  • correction or retraction: when a news source admits an error and publishes an admission of that error, or a correction, if they have learned more accurate information

This video from Cyberwise.org’s Fake News Learning Hub is a great introduction to the concept of fake news.

2. Learn How to Spot Bad Information

Now that you know the different types of information mis-steps from honest mistakes to deceptions, now it’s time to learn how to tell the difference as you read and hear news stories. This infographic from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is a great checklist of 8 things to consider when deciding if a piece of information is reliable.

You can use this checklist to analyze a news story, facebook post, or youtube video yourself. Another way to verify a news story is to enter a search in one of these sites that specialize in tracking down source information to identify fake news, misinformation, and bias for information consumers. Each one specializes in certain types of information or information channels.

  • snopes.com A reference source for researching urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.
  • politifact.org A website that specializes in fact-checking journalism.
  • truthorfiction.com Get information about eRumors, fake news, disinformation, warnings, offers, requests for help, myths, hoaxes, virus warnings, and humorous or inspirational stories circulated by email.

3. Learn About Your Own Go-to News Sources

Another very helpful resource is the Interactive Media Bias Chart. You can look up most major newspapers, magazines, or television news channels and see how each rate for both bias and accuracy. You can also look up particular stories to see how individual stories rate.

The chart also helps you see how these news channels compare to each other. Really good advice is to get your news from a variety of sources. In order to get a well rounded understanding from more than one point of view, a good rule of thumb is to pick news sources that don’t sit right next to each other on the chart.

Finding Accurate Information – Dig a Little Deeper

The articles listed below are from libraries, universities, and other organizations who have published in-depth discussions about the challenges associated with being an informed listener and reader.

  • Center for Media Literacy (CML) works to help people develop critical thinking for the 21st century media culture. Their goal is to empower wise information choices.
  • Media Literacy Now An organization that wants to ensure all K-12 students receive media literacy education and skills.
  • National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) A non-profit organization dedicated to advancing media literacy education.
  • The News Literacy Project (NLP) Provides programs and resources for educators and the public to teach, learn and share the abilities needed to be smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy.
  • The Poynter Institute Promotes honest information in the marketplace of ideas.

To level up your skills finding accurate news sources even more read one of these more comprehensive guides and handbooks:

International Center for Journalists: A Short Guide to the History of ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation. (Also Available in Spanish or Czech.)

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization): Journalism, ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation: A Handbook for Journalism Education and Training (This handbooks is available in English full color or print friendlySpanishFrenchArabic, and many more. Just scroll down on the page to see the full list of languages.)