Like last week, the ones I’m going to mention are found on your computer. These are the ‘databases’ the library subscribes to for their patrons to use. On the Anchorage library site, I actually click on databases to get there. Others might use the keyword ‘resources’ to direct you to the database list.
What is offered depends upon the library’s budget and where they want to spend it. The older boys went to a homeschool support group meeting this fall with one of the branch managers sharing about the databases and using them in your homeschool. Their eyes lit as she walked through some of her favorites and what you can find in them. She also explained that each year they look at how many people used each database as well as how much the next year will cost to determine what is kept. A few databases are absolute favorites of the librarians and have sometimes escaped the axe because of that. Otherwise, they are looking to maintain ones that seem to best serve the community as evidenced by the numbers.
So what are the wonderful databases the boys found intriguing?
They are under the Gale Resource Center header for us. Our library system only subscribes to 4 of the resources under the Gale header.
Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context was one that really got the boys attention. When you to that databases main page, you’ll see categories of viewpoints. What got everyone’s attention at that meeting was that under Family Life you’ll find homeschooling sandwiched between child abuse and teen pregnancy. When you click on a topic, you get a page that shows videos, audios, and articles representing both sides of the issue.
Gale Biography in Context is a great place to learn about those ‘important/influential’ people in history. Depending upon who you are researching, you might find audio, video, or print (which include academic journals as well as magazines) citations on their page with a short ‘bio’ at the top. They group the people by sphere of influence (e.g. American Presidents, Children’s Authors, and Scientists.)
Literature Resource Center allows you to do a search by person, keyword, or the actual name of the work to find literary criticisms, overviews and reviews as well as biographical information. There are ways to limit by date and content type as well. If you click on an entry, it will include the full citation. Boy, do I wish this was around when I was writing research papers in high school and college. Not having to figure out the citation would have been such a time saver. So would being able to read the article without the help of microfiche or dusty volumes in the stacks.
National Newspaper Index covers from 1977 to the present for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. A quick search for Marmot Day produced nothing. But, type in Egypt for the keyword and you are bombarded with articles! This only gives you the citation, so you’d need to visit that publication’s site to read the article.
One that my mom (a retired librarian and bibliophile) loves is NoveList. You can find reading suggestions here, although I personally prefer to just browse the book store or library and have a book call my name at times. There’s also a NoveList Jr. for kids. Both let you click on a title you’ve enjoyed and they’ll offer suggestions for books you will like. When I put in Fablehaven, a fantasy series we’ve enjoyed in the past, it suggested Midnight for Charlie Bone and Magik. We’ve read those books. But, we haven’t read The Book of Lies which was also suggested.
NoveList is part of the EBSCO Publishing Service group which includes fun ones like Small Engine Repair Center, Auto Repair Center, and Searchasaurus (for kids.) There is also a Student Resource Center that lets you limit your search based on Lexile reading levels, a Consumer Health portion, and one that hosts several magazines, newspapers and encyclopedias you can search at once. I spied MEDLINE in that line-up, so it is NOT just mainstream periodicals.
Looking to make an investment? Your library might have Morningstar or a similar product to help guide your decisions.
Researching the family tree? Our library system has Heritage Quest to give access to census records and family histories.
Now, some of the database resources may be limited to use IN the library. In our case, there are three databases that require you plop yourself at the local branch to utilize them. Ancestry Library Edition, MOTOR Auto Repair Manuals, and Value Line for investments.
Sometimes you’ll find there are state level resources that your local library site will list. In Alaska, we have the Digital Pipeline. They group by student age level (elementary, middle school, high school, and college) for searching resources applicable to students. One feature the librarian pointed out is the Live Homework help. What a novel concept! You can send your struggling homeschooler there to get outside assistance if they just don’t seem to get your explanations.
So if you haven’t checked out your local library’s site for databases their patrons can access, give them a look. You might be pleasantly surprised with what you find. I’ve only share those I can access through our public library. I know some have subscriptions to neat language programs like Mango. The Columbus library system in Ohio used to have a Rosetta Stone subscription. In Ohio, a resident can get a library card for any library system. So, I had registered for that card when we still lived in Kent. Even in that area of NE Ohio, each library system had different resources and I held cards at 3 systems within driving distance of the house.
Seeing how slim our current options are (as Anchorage has a rather slim budget), I really miss all the options we had in Ohio and later in Maryland.