Founding Father Thomas Jefferson famously said, “Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”
Enlightenment is much harder to come by than information, especially in today’s information-rich environment. Enlightenment is a form of intellectual awakening. Information alone does not create an enlightened mind; for that, one needs critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking is the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking in order to improve it. A critical thinker will not only gather, but also assess, information to interpret it effectively. This type of thinker is open to alternate systems of thought, assessing them for their value before coming to a reasoned conclusion.
Libraries help individuals become better critical thinkers by providing quality information from a variety of viewpoints and teaching media literacy skills so users can evaluate that information. Today the quantity of information often overrides its quality, so it’s up to the individual to think carefully and come to their own well thought-out conclusion.
One resource many libraries use to provide multiple perspectives on a topic is the online database Opposing Viewpoints, which is the premier online resource covering today’s most important social issues. It provides informed, differing views on each side of an issue to help users develop information literacy, critical thinking skills, and the confidence to draw their own conclusions.
This is a resource you won’t find for free except through your local library, because it draws from a variety of subscription sources from multiple perspectives, including National Review, The New York Times, and other respected, vetted sources. So no matter what current topic you’re interested in, stop by your local library for this and other valuable resources. Your brain will thank you.