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Explore Information — Why use Library Information?

Why Use a Library?

"Libraries are for the common good. Period. This is what sets us apart from other popular institutions that provide information. When we wish our libraries could be more like Google and Amazon, we are doing it wrong. Google and Amazon have two things they want from you: your money and your life." - Barbara Fister, in "Some Assumptions about Libraries."

Difference Between Library Resources & the Free Web

Libraries carefully select resources we believe will help you do research. Instead of reading a second-hand account that you may or may not find using Google, library resources let you find information about your research that you may not encounter otherwise.

Libraries usually collect authoritative information produced by experts in a certain field. These might be expert researchers, or professional experts, or journalists from newspapers or news sources with a longstanding reputation of credibility or editorial oversight.

When you use library resources, you're engaging with the experts on a particular subject. You're not just regurgitating a summary of the subject - you're learning about your subject from the source - your fellow researchers in the field.

Does that mean that all research I find in a library database is always 100% correct?

No! That's part of the point of doing research - scientists will try to replicate each other's studies, for example, to prove or disprove published research.


What about Wikipedia?

wikipedia logo

Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project based on an openly editable model. The name "Wikipedia" is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning "quick") and encyclopedia. Wikipedia's articles provide links to guide the user to related pages with additional information. Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous Internet volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles."  - Wikipedia

So - what's Wikipedia good for? It's a good place to learn a little bit about your research topic, to start thinking of questions that you can explore further. 

Scientific Studies

The library provides access to the source of information - we'll help you get to the bottom of an inquiry! 

Just like John Oliver in the video, you're able to explore the library's resources and find out what scientists are researchers are actually saying about a subject. You're able to directly engage with your topic and follow the evidence doing the research.

Not that everything outside the library is bad - it's just a lot easier to find research to help you answer your question or explore your topic when you go through the library, instead of wading through millions and millions of hits that just aren't as good - because you're not engaging with the source of your information.