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August 24, 2010 > Alameda County Library News: Research tips for students of all ages at your library

Alameda County Library News: Research tips for students of all ages at your library

Submitted By Sallie Pine, Manager of Fremont Libraries

Alameda County Library cardholders have access to a wide range of subscription databases to support the needs of students and inquiring minds of all ages. Though it's very simple these days to just type a few words into a search engine, how do you know what you've found is correct? And how do you sort through the huge number of results you get to find something you trust, or that your teacher will accept? What do you do if all the books on the topic you need are checked out? Answer: Library subscription databases!

Even though the delivery of the information is through the Web, what you get with these usually comes from books, or journal articles, in full text, and generally also with a citation that can be used. Even if your teacher says you can't use the Internet, these are not on the open Web, simply an electronic version of reference books found in libraries. Libraries like these because then everyone has access to them, all the time, not just at one branch and only when that branch is open. These databases have topics for all levels of student, too, from elementary school on.

If you have never used these before, try them out! Come in to your local Tri-City library to get tips on making the best use of them. Some of the most popular databases include:

Ebsco Host:
Masterfile Premier provides full text for nearly 1,700 general reference publications with full text information dating as far back as 1975. Covering virtually every subject area of general interest, MasterFILE Premier also contains full text for nearly 500 reference books and over 164,400 primary source documents, as well as an Image Collection of over 502,000 photos, maps & flags. This database is updated daily.

America the Beautiful:
This is the complete text of the series of books on individual states. Great for state reports from grade 4 on up.

Biography Resource Center:
This one includes essays, articles and websites provide extensive information on 220,000 noteworthy people from many countries and throughout history, including the present. In addition to searching by name, you can also search by occupation, nationality, ethnicity, or time period.

Global Road Warrior: The Ultimate Guide to the World
Here's a travel database that includes notes on society and culture, weather, places to visit, doing business, health and medical notes, tips on security and more.

Grzimek's Animal Life:
Provides coverage on more than 4,000 species, and includes more than 11,000 images, videos, illustrations, and maps.

Consumer Health Complete and Health & Wellness Resource Center:
These two databases have information about conditions and medications, whether prescription, over the counter, or alternative, herbal therapies.

Learning Express Library:
A database for test preparation. Tests included are for school tests like ACT, SAT, PSAT, college advanced placement, graduate exams like GMAT, LSAT, GRE, MCAT. There are also practice tests for GED, citizenship, and various job related tests. There are "skills improvement" in math, English and other topics for every level from elementary school to adults.

Literature Resource Center:
Critical evaluations of authors' works and information about their lives. You can even choose authors by nationality, ethnicity, gender, and type of works they write.

Opposing Viewpoints:
Designed for high school and college students who need to write about social issues. Get both sides of the debate on topics that matter today. Opinion pieces, statistics, reference material, and magazine and journal articles are included.

Social Studies Fact Cards (CA edition):
Contains quick information sources on subjects studied in California schools related to California, Missions, United States, and World history for grades 4 and up.

Student Resource Center Gold:
Everything is full text, and covers literature, science, culture, history and more.

Gale World History in Context:
Is a collection of award-winning reference books, full-text articles from leading scholarly publications, an array of primary sources, and images, maps and charts which provide expansive geographic and chronological research materials for the study of world history. From ancient Europe to Latin America and from the Far East to the Renaissance, world history curricula is supported with over 1,800 primary sources, over 27 reference titles and more than 110 journals.

How to get to these:
Go to and hover the cursor over Research and click on Articles & Databases. Choose your database from the menu by topic or click on the complete alphabetical list. You'll get a dialog box that asks you for your library card number. (Don't have one yet? Get an e-card that will allow you access to the databases by clicking on Get a Library Card under Using Your Library on the library homepage). Type in the number; you'll get another dialog box that will verify that you want to go to that database. Say "yes" and you are in!

There are many more databases to explore too, and links to some free websites recommended by your local librarians.

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