Often we want quick-and-easy access to historical information — and naturally — we turn to the web. One of the sources students rely on is Wikipedia, which they argue is a “good place to start”. Perhaps not. Alexandra Rice writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, famously allows anyone to write or revise its entries, and the history of each item is open for anyone to review. Except for material that leaders of the effort consider too “dangerous” to leave online.
In fact, according to the University of Pennsylvania, Wikipedia is actively redacting over 56,000 entries each year. Who decides what to include and delete? Do we understand and agree with their decision making process for redaction? Are the decision makers experts in the entries that they edit or are they making changes according to their personal, political, or other biases?
It seems prudent that we should all read Wikipedia with more skepticism and more importantly, turn to other readily accessible electronic sources, such as the Kraemer Family Library’s Online Resource Collection, to begin our research. Two of my favorite resources are the Gale Virtual Reference Library and Britannica Online because of their brevity, clarity, and references to additional books/articles. So, the next time you have a question or are interested in a particular topic, visit our electronic library. You will save time and you will know that the entries you are reading are among the most accurate and best-documented sources available on the web.