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By Alice Kurtz - Posted May 1, 2009
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Overall Rating:5 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: ProQuest, LLC, 789 E. Eisenhower Parkway, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Phone: (800) 521-0600; Internet:  

Price: Contact ProQuest for pricing information. A free trial version is available.

Audience: K–12 teachers, media specialists, and students.

Format: Internet-based general reference tool for digital text and multimedia resources.

Minimum System Requirements: A computer with a web browser and a high-speed internet connection.

Description: eLibrary offers more than 2,100 full-text magazines, journals, newspapers transcripts, and ebooks, as well as access to millions of images, maps, websites, videos, and simulations for educators and student researchers. Teacher tools are also provided.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: Users log on to the site with a username and password. No problems were encountered at the login site.

In July 2009, current eLibrary users will automatically have access to the program upgrade discussed in this review. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: The newest version of eLibrary offers a new interface, timeline creation tools, and curriculum tools such as reading level measures, links to state and national standards, and the ability to customize units of study.

The basic search process begins on an uncluttered search page. Both natural language and Boolean searches are possible; advanced searches employ limiters such as date ranges, Lexile reading level, grade level, and more. To limit a search to core reference materials such as a dictionary, an atlas, and an encyclopedia, searches can be conducted by topic, publication, and reference.

I entered "endangered species" as a topic and quickly had more than 399 options. The collected materials included newspapers, magazines, books, maps, websites, pictures, audio/video clips, and transcripts. These selections were listed by relevance and could be sorted by date, size, Lexile score, document title, or publisher name. Sidebars listed the number and types of results, other possible topics, and the range of dates for the selected materials. A nice feature was a highlighted box titled "Why Don’t You Try," which offered alternate search terms for such a broad topic.

After selecting a piece of material, there is an option to "jump to the best part of the document." This takes the researcher to the most relevant portion of the selected resource.

An impressive feature allows the chosen document to be displayed immediately in one of 10 languages, including Korean and Spanish.

Documents can be viewed, printed, emailed, or added to marked lists for later use. The document information includes a link to a citation for the material in MLA style.

A document preview feature indicates materials most relevant to search terms via changes in font sizing. A larger font size indicates a more relevant piece.

The Publications feature allows the user to browse through the site’s virtual "stacks." Browsing can be accomplished by the name of the publication, type of publication/media, or subject.

Once a publication is selected, a search can be performed by year and issue. The ability to browse publications is a great asset in keeping educators up-to-date with professional journals.

eLibrary offers educators the opportunity to create student activities, units of study, and differentiated learning opportunities through features such as the Bookcart and Quizz sections.

The Bookcart feature allows the teacher or media specialist to collect resources and arrange digital collections based on interests, reading levels, topics, and even state standards. State and national standards searches can be conducted to ensure that any materials in development will correlate with the appropriate learning benchmarks.

Essential Pages, a new feature, provides context and background information on the topics that are most often studied or most often queried. The covered topics range from genetic engineering, poverty, gun control, and global warming to Oprah, basketball, and the presidential inauguration.

The goal of the Essential Pages feature is to provide key articles for building a solid background of understanding on a topic, along with substantial details, statistics, and graphics to enrich and deepen that understanding. Editor-selected pieces are chosen to enhance the learning opportunities. Key related links are designed to broaden or narrow the topic; additional relevant links and recommended media are also provided.

At the time of this review, 100 Essential Pages were available. The site is expected to have 1,000 pages by summer 2009. This feature will be continuously updated.

Newly added tools enable the use of eLibrary content in applications such as timelines and slide shows that can be created and published online. These user-created pieces can be saved for presentation or additional collaboration; the material can be added to personal My eLibrary pages that capture and tag user favorites. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: The upgrades help make eLibrary a very user-friendly site. The clean interface of the search page leads to an extensive amount of content available via a simple search.

For the student researcher, navigation is easy. The document preview allows for a quick look at the most relevant materials. The search results are well-designed to allow for either a basic study of a selected topic by using the most relevant pieces or a more in-depth look by using the suggested links and refined search terms. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: A training and support area is offered online at www
.shtml. This page contains links to quick-start guides, free web-training sessions, recorded videos, PowerPoint presentations, and information on setting up in-person training for a variety of ProQuest products. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: eLibrary provides accurate and relevant resources for student research. The site enables teachers and media specialists to differentiate instruction for a wide range of learners. Features such as the Bookcart and the new tools for creating timelines and other productivity applications help students develop a wide range of abilities with confidence. Additional offerings such as the Essential Pages, immediate translation capabilities for 10 languages, and Lexile levels give students the tools they need to develop research skills using relevant, current content.

The newly designed interface is very user-friendly; a simple search is all that is necessary to start researching. The volume of materials and the new features make this a highly recommended purchase for schools. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Alice Kurtz, 5/6 grade teacher, Irving B. Weber School, Iowa City, IA.

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