Monday, September 20, 2010


We all use Wikipedia. Yes, librarians too—or some of us anyway—use it for our own casual reading. I emphasize casual. We love the way terms, names, and concepts are hyperlinked. We love finding articles on everything from the Velvet Underground to Christopher Isherwood. And we appreciate the fact that many Wikipedia articles are now including end notes—reference notes—that we can use to followup on our reading. I once found the source for an obscure quote by Saul Bellow this way.

But in spite of Wikipedia's ubiquity—it's often the first item to appear in a Google search—there are other options, and we need those too, especially since Wikipedia is the wild west of sources.

The online source IPL2, the product of a merger between the Internet Public Library and Librarians' Internet Index, is the place to start. IPL2 is hosted by the College of Information Science and Technology a Drexel University, with major support from the College of Information at Florida State University. There are many ways to make use of this excellent resource, but for now, let's click on "resources by subject," and then "reference." The resulting page contains many items; note the menu on the left, which contgains a link for "encyclopedias."

One of the items on the "encyclopedias" page is titled "" We can feel good about using it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the editors of IPL2 have included it as a source.

We invite you to explore these alternative online resouces. You don't need to banish Wikipeida from your life, but only to realize that there are, when you need them, other online sources that have been evaluated by information professionals and that can be useful to users of all age ranges and for a great variety of needs and subjects.

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