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Advantages & Disadvantages of Using Internet Vs. the Library to Research a Topic

Updated April 17, 2017

If you ask someone where the best place to research a topic is, you probably won't hear many people reply "the library." Perhaps the older generation might, although even grandparents today know how to "google." In an increasingly technology-driven world, society has become accustomed to the instant and easy results we can get from researching online.

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Advantage: A Time Saver

Let's say you were to research, for example, interior design styles. The information you are looking for could be found in several of many books in a library. While they might be books contained in the same section of the library, you will likely have to search various titles and scroll through the contents of the books to find what you are looking for. On the other hand, an Internet search engine does all the legwork for us. By searching keywords, phrases and questions, you are presented with a list of websites containing relevant information. The more specific your search is, the more specific your results will be. With no time wasted and no frustration, you can get the research done quicker and more efficiently.

Advantage: Up-to-date Information

Clearly, once a book is published, any subsequent findings cannot be added to the book without it being republished. There are always new developments in the world of science, health, education, entertainment and politics that writers and publishers simply could not keep up with. Information on the Internet can be updated constantly and is instantaneously available worldwide. To ensure you are not using out-of-date information on a research topic, the Internet would seem to be your best option.

Disadvantage: Unreliable Information

While there are probably hundreds of thousands of credible and reliable websites online, there are just as likely as many that provide inaccurate information based on speculation or biased opinion. You might argue that a library book can still present personal or biased views; however, it is more likely that the library book is from an authorised or relevantly educated author. Anyone, absolutely anyone, can publish a website with any content they wish. You could end up using unqualified information or taking and perhaps subsequently giving inaccurate advice.

Disadvantage: Distraction

When you walk into a library, the silence suggests there is serious work and reading going on. This is because the less distraction you have, the more work you'll be able to get done. Not only will you have excellent resources within arm's length, but you will also have the optimum environment to conduct research. The alternative is being tempted by incoming e-mails and instant messages, advertising pop-ups and checking on your friend's "status." All these distractions take away the focus from your research, ultimately meaning it will probably take you longer than it should to find the answers you seek.

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