Issues & Controversies recently received Gold distinction in the 2021 Modern Library Awards (MLAs), sponsored by LibraryWorks. Each year, the MLAs recognize the top products and services in the library industry in a truly unbiased format. We wanted to follow up this great honor with a conversation with Andrew Gyory, Infobase’s Editor-in-Chief of Issues & Controversies, to get his thoughts on what makes the database a winning resource.
What do you think makes Issues and Controversies stand apart from the competition?
AG: What distinguishes Issues & Controversies from the competition is its expertly edited and curated content. Unlike other products, our database provides hundreds of original pro/con articles on contemporary issues and links all essential resources—political cartoons, primary sources, editorials, court case summaries, videos, timelines, infographics, breaking news stories, and more—directly to each article. This careful organization of content makes the user experience fast, easy, and intuitive, enabling readers to quickly access all the material they need to research an issue, write a report, and prepare for a debate. Every article is written in clear and cogent prose, and by presenting both sides of the controversy objectively and without bias, it allows readers to understand and assess contrasting viewpoints and reach their own conclusions.
Issues & Controversies stands out for its authoritative and accessible content. It also provides features that none of its competitors offer. These include Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates, videos that present leading authorities formally debating many of the same issues featured in the database; podcasts from National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” program that feature interviews with authors, experts, and journalists; QuickTake videos from Bloomberg, one of the most trusted names in media, that offer compelling overviews of hot-button issues; a Bill of Rights feature that highlights key constitutional issues; and editorials from dozens of top newspapers and magazines from across the country and the world. Issues & Controversies also includes thousands of primary sources, summaries of major Supreme Court cases, infographics, maps, charts, and editorial cartoons with interpretive questions. Each of these features is linked directly to the relevant article, giving users everything they need to grasp and analyze an issue.
Issues and Controversies has received a number of other honors. What are some other awards it has won?
AG: Issues & Controversies has won virtually every award the industry has to offer. These include:
- LibraryWorks’ Modern Library Awards Gold Honoree;
- LMC/ARBA‘s Best of Reference Awards, “Best Overall Reference” and “Best Electronic Reference” categories;
- The ComputED Gazette‘s Education Software Review Award (EDDIES), “High School Social Studies Database” category;
- The ComputED Gazette‘s Best Educational Software Award (BESSIES), “High School Social Studies Database” category;
- Library Journal‘s Best Database, “Best for High Schoolers” category;
- Tech & Learning‘s ISTE Best of Show Award;
- Tech & Learning‘s Award of Excellence, “Best Upgraded Products” category
- SIIA CODiE Award Finalist, “Best Source for Reference or Education Resources” category.
The judges who reviewed the database hailed from public, K–12, and academic libraries. What do you think are Issues and Controversies’ top features for users from each market?
AG: While Issues & Controversies appeals to K–12, academic, and public libraries, it offers special features geared to each market.
K–12 libraries will appreciate the Intelligence Squared U.S. debates, which offer ideal models for students, illustrating how debates are moderated and conducted. The discussion questions and primary sources that accompany each article and the hundreds of editorial cartoons and interpretive questions are excellent resources for teaching critical-thinking skills and showing students how to answer document-based questions (DBQs). The court case summaries are superb resources for classes in social studies, civics, government, and current events. The QuickTake videos provide excellent introductions to controversial issues and are of special value to middle school and high school teachers wishing to introduce a lesson to pique student interest. Issues & Controversies also features comprehensive articles on every National High School Debate Topic, enabling students to prepare for nationwide debate competitions every year. Finally, the Bill of Rights feature shows students how many of the most controversial issues in American society raise vital constitutional issues, such as freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms, and the death penalty.
Academic and public libraries will appreciate the breadth of topics covered, making the database an ideal resource for both the general public and students in political science, history, pre-law, economics, sociology, and global studies. The QuickTake videos will be of special value to college students seeking a quick introduction to an issue. The Intelligence Squared U.S. Debate videos offer ideal models for students, illustrating how debates are moderated and conducted. The NPR “Fresh Air” audios, which feature academics and scholars discussing controversial topics in the news, will be of great value to library patrons and advanced students, and the court case summaries are ideal for courses in American history, government, and legal studies.
Do you have anything else to add?
AG: Issues & Controversies is designed with the user in mind. Everything is positioned on the screen and in the database with the goal of making information easy and quick to find. A one-stop resource, Issues & Controversies offers readers all they require to understand, examine, and debate the critical conflicts in contemporary society. Unlike its competitors, which tend to overwhelm readers with a glut of disorganized content, Issues & Controversies carefully vets every item to provide readers and students with exactly what they need to know about today’s key issues. Updated regularly, the database does not shy away from today’s most controversial topics, from immigration and race to health care and gender. The writing is crisp, the content is accurate, and the coverage of competing positions is scrupulously balanced to ensure fairness, objectivity, and authority. Issues & Controversies puts the world at readers’ fingertips, giving users a complete, satisfying, and optimum experience.
- Learn more about Issues & Controversies and try it for yourself!
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