Tag Archives: Bangladesh

Combatting Digital Amnesia: The Crucial Role of Librarians in the Age of Information Overload

This posting is by the ARL Section.

This post features Shaharima Parvin, a  Senior Assistant Librarian at the East West University, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email: shaharima@ewubd.edu

Last semester, while walking through the library’s laptop charging zone, I overheard a conversation that captured a common struggle: “I forgot, wait, try with Google! We don’t need to remember, Google can say!” They were looking up something as simple as their course name on the university’s website. This got me thinking about google effect or digital amnesia.

A study, conducted by Dr. Esther Kang at the University of Cologne in Germany and published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that relying on Google to find information might make it harder to remember things compared to traditional methods like reading from a book. This phenomenon, sometimes called “Digital Amnesia” or the “Google effect,” highlights a potential downside of the vast amount of information readily available online. The study indicates that when we know we can easily access information later, we tend not to commit it to memory as deeply. This happens because, according to the study, people naturally don’t like to put in too much mental effort, and researchers call this being “cognitive misers”.

The term was “Digital Amnesia” coined not by scientists but by a cybersecurity firm that sells solutions to help protect the information we store digitally”. It’s about how we’re not as good at remembering things because we let our gadgets remember for us. Renowned universities like Harvard and Columbia have studied this, especially the “Google Effect,” which is when we don’t bother remembering stuff because we can find it online anytime. This habit can make us less sharp and only understand things on a shallow level.

Image Credit: Shaharima Parvin via Flickr

We know technology makes it super easy to find information, but that shouldn’t make us forget how to remember things ourselves. This is where librarians step in as crucial guides in the age of information overload. As “custodians of information and knowledge,” here’s what we can do:

  • Show users how to find and choose good information from bad, how to check if something’s true, and how to search smarter. This helps us not just take in information without thinking about it.
  • Help start conversations and get us to ask questions about what we are learning. This makes us think more about the information, form our own ideas, and get better at reasoning, instead of just taking the easy answer from the internet.
  • Teach users how to tell if a source is trustworthy, like checking who wrote it, when it was written, and if it’s backed up by facts.
  • Promoting deeper engagement with information through activities like research projects, discussions, and workshops.
  • I believe strongly in the benefits of embedded librarianship to fight against “digital amnesia,” where people forget things they learn online. This approach connects librarians directly with specific groups, like students or researchers, to provide help tailored to their needs. Embedded librarians work closely with their group to understand how they use information and what challenges they face. While using the technology is important, we should also be aware of the drawbacks of relying too heavily on technology for learning and remembering.

Many people think that their memory and focus have got worse and they are blaming various issues such as age, job, or children that might be true, but it is also very likely due to the way they are interacting with technologies in the information overloaded landscape. In my role at a university library, I am actively promoting for incorporating concepts like digital amnesia, information literacy, and embedded librarianship into our services. Today’s students may be incredibly tech-savvy, they intend to skim the surface instead of really understanding the information. So, it’s important to think about how this habit affects their ability to remember and learn deeply and how much they use technology today. By fostering information literacy, critical thinking, source evaluation skills and practicing embedded librarianship, librarians equip individuals to combat digital amnesia and become responsible and discerning information consumers in the digital age.


Chadwick, J. (2022, March 21). Digital amnesia: “Google effect” means you are more likely to forget information you read online. MailOnline. Retrieved February 20, 2024, from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-10634967/Googling-information-makes-likely-forget-things-study-finds.html.

Jarry, J. (2023, March 24). Digital Amnesia has been exaggerated. McGill Office for Science and Society (OSS). https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/critical-thinking-technology/digital-amnesia-has-been-exaggerated

Musa, N., Mukhtaruddin, & Bakkara, V. F. (2023). The effects of digital amnesia on knowledge construction and memory retention. Khizanah Al-Hikmah : Jurnal Ilmu Perpustakaan, Informasi, Dan Kearsipan, 11(2), 313–326. https://doi.org/10.24252/kah.v11i2cf1