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Hi there! I have just started working as a school librarian at a high school for boys after 15 years in public/community libraries: major paradigm shift! I am very keen to subscribe to a good online subscription database of journals which the teachers will find useful. But where to start? Can anyone suggest a subscription service which works for secondary schools? Are there any online guides for librarians comparing the merits of various databases? Any advice for those who have been in the field for some time would be most welcome!

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I am at a 9-12 High School. My favorites are EBSCOhost (great articles not only from newspapers and magazines but also from scholarly journals), SIRS Researcher (this is a ProQuest product) - editorially selected articles on most subject areas with nice hefty results lists on almost all searches, Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center (this is a Gale product) - offers pro/con articles on high interest topics.
There are a lot of subscription databases out there. Which ones you get may depend on the funds available. If I were in your situation, I'd probably start by looking at the web sites of other school libraries to find out which databases they subscribe to. Schools in South Africa with populations similar to yours in as many ways as possible would be the best choices, but I'd suggest looking at several, and you'll be able to tell which databases they have in common. If they don't list their databases on their sites, call or email them and ask.
The Ebsco package has worked for our teachers. It covers all levels which is nice. Make sure to inlcude Advanced Placement Source or Academic Search Elite to cover the need for scholarly journals and academic articles--especially if you offer IB or AP classes.

Hope this helps.

Ann Krembs
Thanks so much for all your help! I am looking at all the suggestions you have made. I had thought of contacting other schools with similair profiles, and hope to do that soon. Any other suggestions would be most welcome
EBSCOhost is one of the most affordable subscription services, but our district dropped it in favor of the equally affordable WorldBookOnline as its choice for all of its schools. The district sees it as a database that will grow with the students. EBSCO's Searchasaurus is wonderful for younger students, but the articles it returned were not as helpful or useful as the district had hoped. WorldBookOnline has options for every level, including an Advanced Edition, which accesses EBSCO's database when it returns articles. The high school added the Spanish and French editions, which will be good for our foreign language students. The students also have access to EBSCOhost through the public library.

For the high school, I also chose Opposing Viewpoints over SIRS and added the Critical Thinking module. Our students and teachers like it better than SIRS. We use Gale's Student Resource Center. Our language arts teachers are in love with Gale's literature databases, and our social studies teachers really like Gale's biography database. We also take CQ Researcher and Greenwood's Daily Life Online.

We used to take CultureGrams, but our students were more apt to use the CIA's World Factbook or NationMaster, which are both really good sites and are free.


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