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Guest Thinkers

Just Say No to Wikipedia

A middle school librarian in New Jersey has gotten some media attention for her anti-Wikipedia campaign:

Linda O’Connor regards Wikipedia the same way former first lady Nancy Reagan campaigned against drugs. . . . She put up a sign saying “Just Say No to Wikipedia” over the computers in the school library. . . . Wikipedia is blocked on all computers in the Warren Hills Regional School District.

I’m highly skeptical.

If the district is going to take a principled stand against Wikipedia because some information is biased or incorrect, is it also taking out all of the encyclopedias (which research has shown, on average, to be as inaccurate as Wikipedia)? Is it removing all of the news magazines and newspapers? The article makes a big deal about how school librarians preview materials before they’re placed on the shelves, but I can guarantee you that librarians and media specialists do not have time to screen every word of every incoming publication. They miss errors and biases just like the Wikipedia community does. Also, it’s ludicrous to pretend that the school library vetting process is free of bias. Oh, and I challenge you to find a school library that doesn’t have old, outdated (and thus inaccurate) non-fiction and/or reference materials on its shelves.

This is all of a bunch of hooey. This shouldn’t have even been a story. When is the Associated Press going to run this story?

Schools teach kids how to wisely and appropriately navigate 21st century information channels

Or this one?

New Jersey school district blocks kids from using one of the most important and powerful information resources in existence because of mistaken beliefs about inaccuracy and bias

Or maybe this one?

Wikipedia is an amazing contribution to the body of human knowledge. New Jersey school district says ‘No thanks.’

Or is it asking too much of the newspaper press to avoid bias by showing the other side of this issue?


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