Spotlight on Useful Reference Sources for the School Year

The opening of the school year presents us with an opportunity to review electronic and print sources that will be helpful for the months ahead. MCLS has a number of reference works available for use in the library or at home that will help with classroom assignments, homework, and even exam preparation. All of the resources described below are available from the Library’s Electronic Resources page, available by clicking on the link to it that appears in the green sidebar of the Library System’s main page, www.mcl.org .

Science. First up is our complement of science databases that cover a broad range of subjects, providing articles, encyclopedic entries, diagrams, illustrations and other materials. Facts On File Science Online offers information on chemistry, environmental science, biology, physics and astronomy, among other subjects. In addition, there is a section of the database dedicated to ideas for experiments that can be conducted by students in grades 6 through 12. The Science Reference Center, compiled by EBSCO, provides articles from encyclopedic and other reference works, academic journals, newspapers, primary sources and trade publications, most of which are available in full text, on a variety of scientific topics. There is also available an image and video collection to supplement textual material. For those interested in meteorology and climate change, Salem Science has published the Encyclopedia of Global Warming, available in electronic format through our electronic resources page.


History. The History Reference Center offers the full text of articles and essays from more than 2,000 reference books, encyclopedias and non-fiction books, cover to cover full text for more than 120 history periodicals along with thousands of biographical essays on historical figures, over 100,000 historical photos and maps, and more than 80 hours of historical video.Facts On File provides articles and images in its extensive online libraries African-American History, American History, American Indian History, American Women’s History, Ancient & Medieval History and Modern World History.If you’re looking for historical information on societies and cultures around the world, try Daily Life Through History. This database gives you the opportunity to search for a particular culture, or browse through different periods of history.Salem History provides the full text of a variety of reference works such as the Encyclopedia of American Immigration, Inventors and Inventions; Great Events From History, Great Lives From History and Milestone Documents in American History, among others.


Literature.For those seeking to do research on literary topics, there is plenty to choose from.Both the Literary Reference Center and the Literature Resource Center provide a wealth of material on authors, literary works, and literary movements, including critical essays, biographical works, primary sources, and author and work overviews. In addition, those interested in knowing more about authors and their respective bodies of work have access to Contemporary Authors, a vast resource that provides complete biographical and bibliographical information and references on more than 120,000 U.S. and international authors.


General Reference.Looking for a topic to write about? Need a brief overview of or introduction to a subject? A map or timeline to put things in perspective? Try the Facts On File Curriculum Resource Center.It’s got geographic and historical maps, timelines, topic overviews, math activities, science experiment suggestions and essential facts ready at hand for browsing or searching. For more in-depth treatment of a topic, there is always the Encyclopedia Britannica, in electronic format. The Britannica is the premier encyclopedic work for scholastic use, and in electronic format is easily searchable. Not only will searches turn up relevant articles and images within the encyclopedia itself, but also suggestions for consulting other websites that have reliable and useful information.


In-depth Academic Research.Among databases that offer access to the full text of journal and monograph articles on a broad spectrum of subjects, EBSCO Host tops the list due to the breadth of its publication collection and the number of disciplines it covers. The areas of study represented within the scope of its individual database sections include elements of the arts, science (including general health and nursing publications), social sciences such as history and economics, business, and education within such databases as Health Source: Nursing / Academic Edition, Teacher Reference Center, Education Resource Information Center, Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, Master File Premier, Topic Search, and Newspaper Source Plus. For elementary, middle school and high school students, there are Primary Search, Middle Search Plus, and MAS Ultra – School Edition.


Test Preparation and Individual Tutorials.The Learning Express Library offers excellent opportunities for test preparation and practice at a number of levels, including the ACT, Advanced Placement, CLEP, PSAT/NMSQT, SAT and TOEFL testing programs. There are also exercises for GED Preparation, and for those considering graduate schools, practice tests to prepare for the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MAT, MCAT and PCAT. Need to learn or brush up on software programs? Learning Express Library has a number of online tutorials that cover such popular programs as Dreamweaver, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Microsoft Access, Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Publisher, as well as others. Perhaps you need some extra help with reading and writing skill development, algebra, geometry, biology, chemistry or other high school subject – check out the High School section of Learning Express Library. There are also skill-building and content mastery exercises for elementary and middle school students as well. Getting ready for the NJ ASK tests? Lumos Learning NJ ASK Test Preparation is available to you in the library or at home to get in the best shape possible for those tests.


- Jim S.

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