Several years ago when I was in graduate school, someone told me something that I’ll never forget: “knowledge is power”. I have learned to embrace these words because I’ve grown to understand that knowledge enables a person to improve themselves and to make informed decisions about family, health, education, and life in general.
Knowledge isn’t innate. In other words, it’s not something you’re born with. It’s something you build and acquire through an accumulation of experience and good information. It is the culmination of a process, that if done with patience and humility, eventually results in wisdom.
Knowledge cannot be built using assumptions, conjecture, or inaccuracies. These are the building blocks of ignorance. Knowledge requires good information. Fortunately, good information is abundant in today’s society. We are surrounded by it, but you must know where to look. So where do you go to find the good stuff? Here are a few tips:
The web: information on the free web is abundant, but unfortunately, not everything is reliable. When searching the web for information, it is important to keep this in mind: anybody can, and anybody will publish anything online. So, it is important to evaluate what you find for reliability. These criteria will help you determine if you’ve found a good source of information: accuracy, authority, objectivity, statement of purpose, and currency. Information that doesn’t meet these criteria should be carefully scrutinized for reliability and credibility. For example, a web document with inaccurate information is unreliable and essentially useless for creating real knowledge.
Libraries: these are repositories of information. They provide access to books and other valuable resources. I happen to really appreciate well written books; they are compilations of knowledge and are especially useful for understanding a topic. Public libraries allow us to tap into that knowledge for free and they hold a valued position in an informed society. Public libraries are a great equalizer because they make information available to everyone regardless of income, age, gender, race, social status, or religion.
BadgerLink: sadly, many people are not aware of this amazing resource. BadgerLink is a product of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. It is a powerful collection of databases that provide Wisconsin residents access to magazine and scholarly journal articles, archived newspapers, online encyclopedias and books, and educational videos. BadgerLink is available to all Wisconsin residents with a valid public library card and it can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. To explore this great resource, visit the BadgerLink homepage and look for the “Library Card Access” link on the right side of the page: http://www.badgerlink.net/
As I said earlier, knowledge is power. Knowledge enables individuals to do great things and gives us courage to strive for a better society, even in the face of adversity. Among many things, knowledge enables us to change legislation, design new products and procedures, and make wise decisions for ourselves and our families.