World Without Wikipedia
January 23, 2012
So when the world of Wikipedia voluntarily went down last week in protest of censoring the Internet (via PIPA and SOPA), what were you doing? Were you crying out in pain because you couldn’t lookup the stats on the NY Giants, the latest news on Lady Gaga, or Stephen Colbert’s qualifications for running for President? Or, did you shed a quiet tear of joy?
Now, for the record, I have never (and most assuredly will never) believe in censorship. In fact, librarians across America are supposed to adhere to a Library Bill of Rights that was drafted by the American Library Association. One section of that document states that "Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment."
And, although I wholeheartedly believe in a free and open Internet, I don’t know that I would specifically miss Wikipedia all that much. I admit to using it now and again, but like any tool, it has its own specific uses and functions in research. You would most definitely not use a hammer to drive a screw into your wall. So, why would you use Wikipedia as a go-to for the answer to every question you have
Aside from the little issue of having Wikipedia’s articles open to all who want to change them (either correctly, inadvertently incorrect, or maliciously so), the search site is also limited in what you can gather information on. Although we may think that Wikipedia can provide the answer to anything, there are a lot of holes in information that can be found on sites like Wikipedia. Pop culture references abound, but serious research can stall out quickly on Wikipedia considering the Justin Beiber article is about 3 times longer than the one on Clara Barton (the founder of the American Red Cross).
The library, however, offers a multitude of quality research sources available to put into your tool box. We have scholarly resources ranging from old-school hardcover books with alphabetized indexes to electronic books available on a computer or portable device. We have 276 Research Databases, most of which are accessible remotely and cover subjects from history and English to science, current events, and genealogy. You can even learn a new language for free from MCPL's website, and get live feedback and advice on updating your resume from our link to Tutor.com. We also have librarian-recommended websites listed for you to get the best quality information that can be found out on the web.
When you add all that into the fact that you can still get fiction to read for babies and grown-ups alike, music, movies, and hands-on programs to attend, it is no wonder that most of us survived the Wikipedia blackout just fine. We hope you did too.