York County Libraries offer back-to-school resources

Back to school resources

Shawn Bissett, 9, of Springettsbury Township, checks out some of the science projects in SIRS Discoverer at Martin Library Aug. 9. The program is one of the several online resources offered to kids heading back to school. (SUBMITTED)

By DEB SULLIVAN
On the Shelves

As many kids head back to school this week, it won’t be long before the assignments for book reports, history papers and science projects begin.

Technology has significantly altered how students look for books and information at the library. Lots of students start their searches online, as access to information 24/7 has never been easier.

But the question is just how do they know whether or not the information is from a credible source, one that their teachers would approve? This is where York County libraries are poised to help students and parents find vetted, quality resources.

Martin Library’s Youth Services Librarian Laura O’Grady points to a resource called SIRS Discoverer, available through POWER Libraries on the yorklibraries.org website. It is an online encyclopedia that features age-appropriate resources for research with several popular features. Her favorite component is the science-fair section that is kid-friendly.

“It has a really cool graphic to help you narrow down what project you want to do,” O’Grady said.

Using the interactive graphic, students click on the pictures representing different types of science, such as chemistry in the kitchen and water science in the bathroom. Supply lists, directions and graphics illustrate how to do a variety of experiments.

O’Grady also recommends AP Images, which is also found in POWER Libraries.

“Many parents are uncomfortable with their children using Google, and AP Images is a safer way for students to browse images that appeared in the news,” O’Grady said. “They can access sound bites, graphics, State of the Union speeches, Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, the moon landing and more.”

With all of these elements, the students can complete their projects using multimedia, “so they can be more creative in what they are turning in,” O’Grady added.

Another resource, which Martin Library Adult Services Librarian John Miller suggests for students, is TrueFlix. It has a variety of non-fiction titles. For instance, if a student has to do a project on the Civil War, he or she would go to TrueFlix on the library’s site and read through several books online.

It also has a read-along feature if the student wants to hear the book read aloud and has related videos to help students further explore their topics.

The counterpart to this Scholastic resource is BookFlix, which is geared to emerging readers. It features paired fiction and non-fiction books which help children learn the difference between fact and fiction. Plus, its read-aloud feature teaches phonetic awareness. This is a great online tool for independent reading time.

For families who do not have computers at home, all 13 York County library locations have public access computers available to use at no cost, plus printers and copiers that can be used for a fee per print. Wi-Fi access is also available at all sites.

Featured resources

  • Librarians:: By far our best search engines! Find them at all 13 York County libraries
  • Information Services staff at Martin Library: Available on the second floor of the library and by phone, 717-846-5300, ext. 226 or 227. Starting Sept. 22, Sunday hours will resume at the library from 1 to 5 p.m., providing students with additional time on the weekend to research school projects
  • Ask Here PA: Connect residents with a reference librarian who can provide information assistance 24/7; available at yorklibraries.org
  • Rocket Languages: A brand-new resource that is excellent for learning foreign languages, and for English-as-a-second-language students; available at yorklibraries.org
  • POWER Libraries: Provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; features databases, e-books and search tools; available at yorklibraries.org
  • NewsBank: Provides access news articles; helpful for students researching current events; available at yorklibraries.org

About Sarah Chain

I'm an avid reader and book lover living and working in downtown York. Follow me on Twitter at @sarahEchain.
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