There are many things in high school that require out-of-classroom research and preparation, from the lengthy senior project to a mid-quarter history essay. Fortunately, assignments that may have once required multiple trips to the library and extensive searches can now be simplified through the use of the school’s online library system.
This system has the potential to revolutionize how students approach assignments, transforming how and what they research by providing an easy way to obtain information. Many of the pieces have already been placed into the puzzle, except there is one integral component that is missing.
“A surprising number of people have never used the databases so my hope is that this system will make it easier for them to use the databases, or at least find them,” library coordinator Gordon Jack said. “In the past it has been kind of difficult to get there, so right now I think the biggest impact that it is going to have is to help students with research projects when they have to gather information beyond the textbook.”
When students are given an assignment where they need more context, secondary sources or helpful preparation techniques, they should take advantage of this treasure trove. Located on the Los Altos High School website underneath the library tab, there are three categories for students to choose from: Read, Research and Create.
“The system has the most potential … to just take this tsunami of information that students are inundated with and organizing it in a way that makes it a little bit easier to research on topics,” Jack said.
The first component, Read, contains book reviews and reading suggestions, as well as the library catalogue. The second, Research, contains interesting and helpful links to resources that students should make an effort to take advantage of. The third, Create, offers helpful tips for creating presentations and writing papers.
As an example, students can use the database JSTOR, which contains more than 1,000 academic journals and over 1,000,000 images, letters and primary sources. In addition, there are links to Gale’s Student Resource Center, a site for finding magazine, newspaper articles, book excerpts and Opposing Viewpoints, a site which gives pro-con arguments on a wide range of issues.
“The [online system] really helped me narrow my search down when I had to do my essay for the Kite Runner in 10th grade,” senior Bhavdeep Singh said. “It showed me great articles which were reliably to use, which then helped me strengthen my essay.”
While many of these resources were already available to students, they are now assembled in one convenient place. While there are some assignments where using the system isn’t practical, if students have the opportunity, they should take advantage of it and encourage their peers to do so as well.