South Dakota Library Challenge: Electronic Resource Edition
Lesson 6 | Gale Virtual Reference Library | March 5, 2015
*The South Dakota Library Challenge: Electronic Resources Edition was developed by the South Dakota State Library staff to introduce you to the statewide subscription electronic resources. The Electronic Resources Challenge encourages library staff to learn more about the resources that provide expanded access to information and research tools to all schools, libraries and citizens of South Dakota.
For Lesson 6 of this Challenge, my task was to explore Gale Virtual Reference Library. GVRL provides all South Dakota libraries and schools with a core reference collection that's accessible 24/7 to an unlimited number of users. It contains selected multi-volume reference titles in many subject areas, including medicine, education, history, science, and literature. Users can also search across the entire collection at once, frequently finding information in areas one wouldn't look. GVRL articles have "read speaker" technology, which allows every article to be read aloud or downloaded in MP3 format.
To better get to know the titles in GVRL, I performed a few searches. It was very similar to exploring the titles of any library's reference collection. I first clicked on "Title List, which pulled up a list of all available titles in the collection. I noticed that there were some sorting options and that I could also access the list as CSV, XLS, or KBART. There were many titles on this list on a variety of topics. I chose to look at Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Holidays because there is a 6th grade teacher that I work closely with that does a cultural unit every year. GVRL has 4 volumes of this encyclopedia, which is dated back to 2000. I viewed the table of contents, and I also looked through each volume. Because Easter is approaching, I clicked on the article about Easter traditions around the world. The article provided a wealth of information and pictures, and just based on the one article, I discovered that this resources would be very beneficial to students studying world cultures and holidays, and that I could bring the students into the library to show them how to use GVRL as a research tool. I am going to do some more exploring to see if I can find information about endangered species in GVRL because I am helping out in an upcoming 8th grade endangered species research paper project.
So next, I went back to the GVRL homepage and typed "endangered species" into the search box. This gave me 1253 results, which I know that I would want to narrow down if I was doing a search on a specific endangered animal; however, I thought it was so great to get so many results! I quickly scrolled through the results and found that for each result, I could see the name of the article, the name of the encyclopedia, the number of pages of the article and the word count, the citation information, and a short overview. GVRL also gives the option to view the article as text or as PDF or to save the article. I clicked on an article for the Puerto Rican Boa. The article provided basic information, maps, pictures, more in-depth information, source citation, and links to other articles about this topic. At the top of the article, I was given options to e-mail, download, or print the article. I could also download it as an MP3, download a PDF to an eReader, or listen to the article. I tried the "listen" feature and was impressed that the reading wasn't choppy or robotic sounding. There is also a feature that allows readers to translate the article to different languages. This will be a great resource two weeks from now when I am teaching the 8th graders how to research endangered species!
To finish off this week's challenge, I viewed a few blogs from other librarians and teachers who are also doing this challenge. One challengee researched Forensic Science, Cancer, and Zinc. Another looked up World War II and Transvaginal Mesh Implants, while yet a third explored Terror Attacks, Zinc. It was fun to see the different searches and to know that there is so much information available in this resource!