Friday, July 11, 2008

David Bowie Likes It Scholarly.

I was on Wikipedia the other day, reading about bonobos, when it occurred to me, holy cow, I look things up all day long on Wikipedia.

(FYI, you should check out section 3.1 in the bonobo article. Prepared to be wowed.)

Like a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't remember the name of this pictorialist photographer who I like, so I hit Wikipedia. Before that, I wanted to find some quick background information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And then prior to that, it was something very academic like, "What's David Bowie's real name?"

As a librarian, I know that it's not the most reliable source, since anyone can create and edit the content. But, hey, it's online, and it's easy to use. And most of the time I just want a quick answer. The truth of the matter is that I love Wikipedia, and I will fist fight anyone who doesn't.

There I was in the midst of this major internal conflict, when I got an email about one of our new online databases--Encyclopædia Britannica Online. (Remember those sweet Encyclopædia Britannica commercials in the 80s? A: Yes and fondly.) While it doesn't offer the same democratic, social network-y style as Wikipedia, it's accurate, authoritative, current, scholarly, and it's pretty.


I mean, it has a "user-friendly interface."

So, the next time I want to know about the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, Bastille Day, or Epicureanism, I'm going to try Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

And so should you. Just go to the library's website, click on the "Article Databases" link under "Research Tools," and hit the "E" button.

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