Take a moment to think about the kind of background information you need. Obviously, this will depend on your topic. Try to make a list of simple, informational questions about your topic. For example, if my topic is "The Fed and Congress must prioritize decreasing the federal debt," some background question examples are:
Consider the following two database as a place to find great background information on a wide variety of topics.
Print encyclopedias like this one, Social Issues in America, are a great way to identify controversial topics. Find the following volumes in the library or click on the book above to go to the ebook version.