Digging into databases

Setting the Stage A few weeks ago, our junior English teachers approached me with the idea of deepening their students’ knowledge about how to use databases and other services like Google search tools and Google Scholar. But rather than asking me to give their classes the typical brief overview, they allotted a whole class period, and suggested perhaps a scavenger hunt model would engage students(agreed!).   We talked about what skills they wanted students to get better at, what tripped them up with researching on databases, and how […]

It’s about the human connection..databases part two

I’ve been reflecting further on the frustrations with databases that I vented in my previous post.   I realized that what is crystallizing for me is the point that… Research tools are not about the tools.  They are about the people who use them.    Each student brings a human story and experience to their research process but most of all, they come to it as a person.   When you look at sites like Flickr or Instagram or Twitter or Tumblr, all of them center […]

Consumer intelligence…or…do databases realize they have student customers?

After my annual frustrating experience working with database companies and iPad apps in our 1:1 school, I feel that it is high time that database companies start stepping up to the plate to make products easier for their k-12 consumers (and beyond). Have you ever tried to 1)interest high school or middle school students in using a database instead of Google?  While it is a skill they need to develop particularly if they are college bound, at best, it is a hard sell.  What high […]

Database vendors–this one’s for you

A panel discussion on databases at the SLJ Summit in D.C. raised some important concerns about database vendors. I think it would behoove them to listen to these concerns if they want their consumer market(k12 librarians and k12 students) to keep using their products. In this arena, I’d say, Google has got it right. One stop shopping, ease of use, user friendly interface–all what a K12 student/teacher would want. Some of the database companies are trying–creating widgets that are easily embedded on library webpages so […]

Partial mea culpa

A few days ago I wrote a post trying to get attention of database designers to a few things, namely making searching more convenient and fun for students so they would use the databases more frequently. One particular thing I mentioned was embeddable search widgets.  After investigating and some legwork on my part, I discovered that some of our database companies do now provide widget search boxes:  EBSCO, GALE, and Facts on File.    The jury is out on a couple of companies, and a few […]

Are databases dead?

I’m going to be blunt in this post.  Databases are dead.  (Okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic.)  And who would mourn their loss?  What value do they add to our internet experience? Both Joyce Valenza and I (and I’m sure scores of other librarians) have probably written similar posts in the past asking database vendors to improve their wares. Now, don’t get me wrong.  I personally think databases are very helpful to students–obviously getting good sources of information that are accurate and current and […]