Spotlight on Wikipedia

Librarians are often divided on Wikipedia use for academic research: some steer clear of the site entirely, while others promote its use for the purpose of finding more scholarly references. In the January edition of CRL News, Cate Calhoun discusses the online encyclopedia’s ability to support the research process in new ways, such as developing topics.

Calhoun uses the example of “sustainability” as a tricky term for databases to understand because it relates to so many fields of research. Wikipedia can help students brainstorm narrower terms, such as “environment”, “economy”, and “social issues” through its subheadings.

The CRL News article is a good reminder for librarians to meet students halfway by incorporating familiar websites – even “bad” ones – into our learning environments so we can shape their use more effectively.

For other Teaching Tips and more Teaching Resources see:

LINC Toolkit – Teaching Resources

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee

Calhoun, C. (2014). Using Wikipedia in information literacy instruction. CRL News 75(1), 32-33. Retrieved from

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