Monday, March 21, 2016

Be Informed: Issues and Controversies

Bill Nye the "Science Guy" said in an interview with Mashable in 2013
"The information you get from social media is not a substitute for academic discipline at all."
He was talking about the ephemeral quality of information, the ability to share a thought or photo or article on a social media platform like Twitter or Facebook in a moment as well as the ability to digest that thought in half as much time and move past it. It's armchair thinking, getting your information passively from sources that... well, at best they want you to click a link or look at their page and at worst want you to have incorrect information.

No matter if the information is useful or correct, it can go by very fast online. Finding an unbiased source, one that is not trying to sell you something or written from a slanted point of view is hard, especially with controversial topics. That's why the library offers Issues & Controversies.

Issues & Controversies is a library database that offers information on over 70 important current topics. Each topic has subtopics, narrowing down the question and presenting both sides of the debate. This information is backed by primary sources, videos, news searches, and a bibliography of books and other media to further your research.

For instance, if you were researching censorship, there is a larger topic called "Censorship and Freedom of Information." Within that topic, there are subtopics on domestic surveillance, journalistic integrity, classified information, and free online content. Each subtopic gives the supporter's and opponent's sides, and overview of the debate, and news content to back the information.

Why is this important? Being informed on popular topics, especially topics that may help you choose a political candidate, helps inform your decisions, opinions, and arguments. Instead of saying, "well I read it on the Internet, or Twitter, or Facebook" you will be able to say "I researched it at the library" and come off sounding way more credible.

To access Issues and Controversies, click here or go to the library's website ( and find it under the "Research" tab. If you are outside the library, you will need your library card. The website is free to use with no other signup required, but you may create an account to save articles, save search histories, and change preferences in case you wish to return often.

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