A Project for Better Journalism chapter
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Library Resources

World History in Context, an online database, has been searched over 1,143 times by students at West during this school year so far. The library resources here at New Berlin West Middle and High School are available to all students. “We have a number of databases available for online research covering all subjects,”  says Barb Uhen, New Berlin West’s Library Media Specialist. “[including] science, social studies, and general subjects.”

Although we have all of these resources, do students actually know about and use these resources? “I think if I’ve talked with them or if their teachers have talked with them or I’ve been in their classroom they do,” Uhen states, “but I don’t think everybody knows about them, to be honest. I also think students know about them and forget to use them.”

According to Uhen, using databases for research has more benefits compared to googling information. “Students know about them, but choose to Google for information because for some, they think it’s easier,” Uhen says, “but when you are doing research and need a citation and a reputable website or webpage or an article you want to use a database, [companies] are able to go through to get rid of all the stuff thats junk and they give us the stuff that’s good.”

Additional to the online databases, there are also many physical resources available in the library. These include fiction books, nonfiction books, graphic novels, audiobooks, and DVDs. They also have equipment that can be checked out such as microphones, headphones, and flip video cameras. “You might check out a microphone if you are doing a video or a screencastify and you need a more powerful microphone than what’s on your chromebook,” suggests Uhen.

Of the 17 students surveyed, all of them marked that they know how to use library resources. Approximately 59% of students surveyed said that they rarely use online library resources, and 41% of students surveyed said that they rarely use physical library resources.

Alexa Billstrom, a senior here at New Berlin West said, “Library resources don’t always offer a good variety of information, and while they’re accurate, finding enough information just solely from these usually isn’t enough to complete a research assignment.”

Approximately 47% of students surveyed say that their teachers occasionally encourage them to use library resources. According to Uhen, she has been promoting library resources in many ways. “When I go into the classrooms, and I have also shared out with teachers in staff notes that [the library resources] are there. In some instances, this week for example, a couple of classes were using the online resources and I directly emailed those students in the classes with the link to the online resources.”

Uhen thinks we should keep these resources. “I do think they are benefiting to students. I can look at usage statistics so I can see how often a database is used and how many times its searched, how many articles are downloaded or looked at… Some are used more than others because it depends on what the project is…We want to make sure you guys are using them so it’s not a waste of money.” says Uhen.

Uhen is available for students to ask questions about resources. “Students can always come ask me for help on any of the databases or print resources or email me questions if they need help,” Uhen says. Research away!

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