On-demand Fact checking Service by Seattle Public Library

The Seattle Public Library is providing on-demand reference assistance for users of the Living Voters Guide.

To ask a librarian to check the facts of a claim on the Living Voters Guide, click the “Request a fact check of this point” button at the bottom of each post. Librarians will respond to each request within 48 hours. We will assign each claim a status of “Consistent with sources found,” “Inconsistent with sources found,” “Inconclusive given sources found,” or “Outside the scope of the service” and will post a response with further information and the sources used to evaluate the claim.

We will make every effort to find a variety of sources and to post a fair, balanced, and complete response to each request. Librarians will spend up to two hours per request; if an answer cannot be found in this timeframe, we will note this in our response. Librarians are not experts on current ballot measures; but we are experts in finding information. We will respond to all requests and present the best information we can find in an attempt to evaluate the veracity of a claim.

Some types of questions fall beyond the boundaries of what librarians are able to verify:

  • We will not conduct in-depth legal or financial analysis, but we will point users to research that has already been conducted.
  • We will not evaluate the merits of value or opinion statements, but we will evaluate factual components of these statements.
  • We will not evaluate the likelihood of hypothetical statements, but we will evaluate factual components of these statements.

The Library is not the final word on what is the truth. Our responses represent our best effort of evaluating statements by Living Voters Guide users, given the information we are able to find. This is an experiment; we hope that our efforts will support informed discussion of civic issues.

How it works

When the pro/con points are expanded, you can click on a point to expand it. If you would like a librarian to fact check it, click the button “Ask a librarian about this point”. You can then describe what claim you'd like them to investigate. The librarians will try to respond within 48 hours.

The results of the fact checks will be shown to all LVG participants. When the pros and cons are expanded, you can see the result of the fact check labeled with the following icons:

  • Consistent with sources found. The sources we found support or are consistent with the claim.
  • Inconclusive given sources found. The information we found neither confirms nor denies the accuracy of the claim. In some cases this might be used where we found two different sources which fall on either side of the claim. In other cases it might be used where one source can be interpreted in more than one way.
  • Inconsistent with sources found. Sources we found conflict with or are inconsistent with the claim.
  • Outside the scope of the service. Some reasons for this might be - it would require; more in-depth analysis which would take more time than the service allows, in-depth legal or financial analysis, evaluation of the merits of value or opinion statements, evaluation of the likelihood of hypothetical statements. In each case, we would explain why it is outside the scope.