Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Subscription Databases in the Age of the Internet: A Problem with Easy Solutions

Posted on: September 13, 2011

As the school year begin a media specialist posted a request for help on LM_Net.*

I know [we] used to be able to set up free accounts to databases such as EBSCO and must admit, I just never seemed to get around to taking care of this  . . . Are any databases still available at no charge to school libraries ? And if so, which ones?

A new media specialist was thrilled by the resources available, but, the topic that has been the most taking my brain has been developing and organizing how to advocate the materials and tools.  I’ve wanted to do it, but I don’t have any ideas about how to do it. Another media specialist also sought help. Our databases are on school websites, we have brochures and instruct students doing research projects, but the school tech support people and I know we need to do more.  

Many years ago, when I taught an English class along with my media job I spotted a video I could have used to teach concepts in the novel the class had just read. My oversight is a reminder of how easy it is for busy educators (and media specialists) to forget what’s there for us. Now with far more choices, it’s even easier to forget or ignore what is available.

Even when we know what ‘s available  it can be challenging to get students and teachers to use them. Database underutilization is a common discussion topic among media specialists.  There are easy solutions.

Making the horse drink

The most effective way to reach students is direct instruction with students at the time of need.  My memorable experience with younger students was a teachable moment inspired by a You Tube April Fool’s video. Penguins can Fly was the perfect introduction to research for a rain forest project.    The students “got it” in seconds; they knew why it’s a good idea to begin research with World Book Student or Kids.  Enjoy the flying penguins! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pG5dzybHgTo

Other solutions:

  • Reaching out to teachers through collaboration and staff development
  • Sharing ideas with colleagues
  • Less is more — just promote what is really needed and will be used
  • Promote with tangibles — flyers, book marks, newsletters, stickers

More ideas and details are described in Subscription Databases in the Age of the Internet: A Problem with an  Easy Solution,  Internet@Schools, September/October 2011,  The NEW Media Center column.   Partial column  now available online.   Full text is available through EBSCO.

Previous post on flying penguins!

*LM_NET, August 20, 2011

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