Library databases aid schoolwide assignments

October 12, 2017 — by Siva Sambasivam and Rahul Vadlakonda

As senior Andrea Su wandered through the stacks of literary anthologies last year, she couldn’t help but marvel at the sheer size of the library’s collection. Though she started out reading Poetry Criticism and Poetry Foundation to conduct research for an English project, she soon realized that using hard copies of the literary criticism anthologies of the works of her poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, was massive and far too inconvenient to wade through efficiently.

So she began using the school’s online databases instead.

Every year, English 11 Honors teachers Amy Keys and Natasha Ritchie assign their classes a poetry project where students are required to use the library databases and books to research about a specific poet.

Students are often required to use the numerous databases offered through the school library’s website for research projects and papers. These databases include the majority of EBSCO and ABC-Clio databases. Among these include Academic Research databases and Advanced Placement (AP) class databases, as well as databases about many humanities subjects including history and literature.

An example of these databases and NoodleTools, a tool which helps student structure projects, essays, etc. For the entire suite of databases, the district spends roughly $9,300 every year, according to librarian Kevin Heyman.

Because all featured publications in the databases are written by academics and other professionals, students are given access to a greater variety of credible, cutting-edge research.

“[The use of these databases] avoids misinformation that can happen when using random sites are on the Internet,” Su said.

According Heyman, the library began subscribing to these databases in 2009 with the goal of helping students students with immediate projects but also familiarizing them with the database systems that are commonly used at universities.

“It is essential for students to know how to use databases because they will be expected to know how to use them at whatever university they will be attending,” Heyman said. “For example, UC Davis’ library has over 800 databases and Stanford’s has over 1,200 databases.”

Having databases has made it far easier for both students and library staff to access information.

Before the library started using databases, it subscribed to a variety of print magazines and journals that were housed in the library’s Periodical Room. Students found the works they needed through an index called the “Reader's Guide to Literature.” Now, the databases have proven to be more frequently used, as over 60,000 articles and eBooks were read throughout the entirety of last school year, Heyman said.

Senior Neal Iyengar appreciates the easy access that the library provides to these databases and loves how quickly he can get the information he needs.

“[The databases] are great as students don't want to go scrambling from one website to another,” Iyengar said. “It keeps everything in one location and gives students access to information through simply search decreasing the normal amount of time it takes for a student to find information.”



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