How to Use the Library Databases is Growing!

book_stack_mouse_2012_za1I have added more database vendors to the Hot Topic – How to Use the Library Databases along with scavenger hunts, search tips sheets you can download and more. A new page has been added called “What is a Database?”. This page not only explains what a database is but also provides information on why you should use a database and tips for getting started with a research or report.

You will also notice a new search tool available for Gale databases called Research In Context. Research in Context will search across GALE homework databases and eBooks (GVRL) so it is designed for grades K-12. Prior to school starting we will be adding it to the Homework Help pages as well.

Please keep checking back as I still have additional vendors to add to this Hot Topic. If you have any suggestions for this page, please let me know.


Library Databases Help! What’s available and how do I use them?

01-2015-JobNowThe Virtual Library is putting together a Hot Topic called How to Use the Library Databases. Here we will highlight videos, websites and/or guides on how to use each database we subscribe to during the year. Currently, BrainFuse and World Book Online pages are available. As the databases get renewed this spring we will be updating the Hot Topic. Please feel free to use these with staff and patrons as needed.

New Literature Databases

LITF DLBCWe have just added two new literature databases which can be found on the Databases A-Z Search by Topic – Literature & Poetry page and under their name on the Databases A-Z pages. the databases are:

Dictionary of Literary Biography – provides more than 16,000 biographical and critical essays on the lives, works, and careers of the world’s most influential literary figures from all eras and genres. This literature resource includes the DLB main series, the DLB Documentary Series, and the DLB Yearbook Series – all delivered in an easy-to-use 24/7 online format that matches the exact look and feel of the print originals.

LitFinder – If looking for a literary work this is the place to start. It contains 140,000 full-text poems, 840,000 poem citations and excerpts, 7,100 full-text short stories and novels, 3,800 full-text essays published in the 16th-20th centuries, 2,400 full-text speeches, and 1,250 full-text plays. LitFinder is also now available in Artemis Literary Sources.

Want to learn how to use these new databases and Artemis Literary Sources? Attend one of the sessions below on January 16th at Windmill Library in the Virtual Library Training Lab.

Session 1: 10:30 a.m. – Noon

Session 2: 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

These are hands-on training session and everyone is welcome to attend including patrons.  Since space is limited please RSVP by email to with your name and which session you wish to attend.

Science Lesson Plans

ToxTown-300x165Lesson Plans From the National Medicine of Health

Unique materials for K-12 science teachers. Includes Tox Mystery for grades 2-5,Tox Town for grades 6-12 and Environmental Health Student Portal (Grades 6-8). This is linked on the Hot Topic – Teacher’s Toolbox – Science tab.

Toxie the Cat helps students find the hazards hidden in each room and offers hints when needed. This resource uses a child-friendly, interactive game interface to get younger students to think and learn about household hazards. The sound effects are fun; turn on your speakers and move your mouse to the front door on the home page for an example! The “For Teachers” section includes lesson plans and activity pages. ToxMystery is available in English and Spanish.

ToxMystery screenshot

Environmental Health Student Portal (Grades 6-8)
The Environmental Health Student Portal provides a safe and useful resource for students and teachers in grades 6 – 8 to learn how the environment can impact health. The site explores topics such as water pollution, climate change, air pollution, and chemicals. It includes a Teacher’s Page with resources to engage students in active learning, a Homework Help page, and a section about careers in the environmental sciences.

This site was developed based on teachers’ input. It addresses the “what’s in it for me” of why students should care about the environment, and keeps students engaged with hands-on activities, games, videos, experiments and projects. SIS has plans for future web site improvements and enhancements.

Enviro Health Student Portal Screenshot

Tox Town (Grades 6-12+)
Tox Town is a guide to commonly encountered toxic substances in a colorful, graphic interface. Teachers can integrate science with literacy skills, by enabling students to engage in teacher-developed expository reading and writing activities. The site can be used for Earth Day activities, and can also test Spanish language/reading skills. It ties an environmental science curriculum with the effects on human health. Tox Town is designed to provide information on:

  • everyday locations where you might find toxic chemicals
  • non-technical descriptions of chemicals
  • links to selected, authoritative chemical information
  • how the environment can impact human health
  • Internet resources on environmental health topics

Tox Town screenshot

Tox Town is also available in Spanish. Here is the interactive Southwest page in Spanish:

Tox Town Southwest Spanish screenshot

Of interest to Librarians is:

Tox Town-Based Curriculum Units/Science Club (Grades 6-8)
Discovering the Connection: Your Environment, Your Health is an after-school science club curriculum for middle school students. It can also be used in a science classroom or in an interdisciplinary program that connects science and society. The curriculum sequence consists of six units. Each unit introduces one environmental health topic and includes three to four 50-60 minute lessons. It is an excellent resource for multidisciplinary education, as it combines science, social studies, and language arts, an important component of the Common Core State Standards for education.

Lessons and activities of the curriculum combine research on the Tox Town website with hands-on experiments, communication, and social action activities. The objective is to introduce middle school students to environmental health issues in their everyday lives, emphasizing the relevance of science to informed citizenship. The curriculum was developed as a collaboration between the National Library of Medicine, University of Maryland College of Education, and an inter-disciplinary group of middle school teachers. It is based on National Science Education Standards and is grounded in problem-based learning.