Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Title: Gale Virtual Reference Library

Production Company: Gale and Cengage Learning

Summary: The Gale Virtual Reference Library is offered from the San Mateo County Library System's database section with only a library card needed for complete access. The Reference Library has a variety of reference material that is helpful for teens ranging from medicine, law, the environment, education, history, literature, multicultural studies, and science. Users can do a basic search for keywords within specific strata of the results, such as in the documents' titles, the keywords, the subject, or the entire document itself. They can also browse via the available publication via subject matter. Like most databases and information retrieval engines, the Reference Library has an advanced search as well as a Subject Guide Search. The subject guide allows for users to search for specific subjects rather than keywords and allows users to discover overarching subjects that they might have not originally thought of. Two other helpful sections of the Library are the Dictionary and Title List that users can access at any step of their search.

Critical Evaluation: The Gale Virtual Reference Library is a helpful source for teens to receive reference help from reliable sources at a time in which they may not be able to access a physical library, whether the school media center or a public library. With their library card, teens can log on and search for articles and book excerpts and read them online for their research. While not as extensive as other databases, the Reference Library is a good starting point for research topics and its full-color photographs and illustrations should not be too daunting to any student, as the layout of many of the encyclopedias referenced are similar to textbooks. This database is also a good fact-checking information area whose references will not be looked down upon by teachers as the information is originally from published encyclopedias rather than Wikipedia. The related subject results after performing a search will be helpful and familiar to users who are used to clicking hyper links and following a train of thought to its conclusion.

Annotation: An online reference tool, the Gale Virtual Reference Library provides 24/7 access to a medley of encyclopedias and other published reference materials that would otherwise be unaccessible when libraries are closed.

Information About the Company: Gale is part of Cengage Learning and strives to perfect online and educational publications for learning across all ages. Its multiple divisions target different age groups, from school aged students to adults and public libraries.
Gale also deals with licensing issues and is based in Michigan. Read more about the company at its website.

Genre: Database; Reference Services

Curriculum Ties: Information Retrieval

Booktalking Ideas:
  • For those who love using Wikipedia but whose teachers frown when they see it referenced for a paper, the Gale Virtual Reference Library provides a plethora of information with only a library card needed for access. Available 24/7, just like Wikipedia, the Reference Library provides excerpts from numerous published reference materials for students to use whenever they want.
Reading Level: 15+

Challenge Issues N/A

Why This Database?: Staff Recommendation

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