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Here are the responses to questions 4 - 9.

4.      How do you evaluate reference tools you are considering for selection?

--by personal use and librarian consultations, student referrals I try to
use the standard evaluation tools, but the final consideration is how it
fits into our curriculum.
--Since we're fortunate to have a lot of the basics that are current--I'm
always on the lookout for the unusual.  For instance, our 3rd grade does an
in depth 3-4 month study of Ancient Egypt--I'm always looking for unique
sources to tie in with things like that.  But I try to be careful and not
buy just any old thing with the word Egypt on it--you can sink a lot in to
junk, just to have it on the shelf!  I look for colored photographs, word
count, content, lasting value.
--Reading level, where fit in curriculum, reviews
---A-Does it meet the needs of my students/faculty? B-Can I afford it? If
at all possible, I personally examine the materials. I also trust certain
publishers - Dorling Kindersley, Facts on File, etc.
-- Readability, coverage, illustration, relevance to curriculum
--Word of mouth. I don't have the money to guess.
--The district provides reviews, but it's nice when I can  get a hands-on trial.
--I read reviews to select possible tools.  Sample articles and lists of
articles are usually available for sets, so I'll call the publisher for
them.  Before our state library conference, I contact publishers' reps and
tell them which items I'd like to review at the conference.  Occasionally,
I'll request an in-house preview.  My major criteria are curriculum
relevance, readability, ease of use, extent of access points, currency, and
--I try to use at public library  trial 30 days is common for online
(that's what I did with Groliers) some publishers you get to trust
publishers reps bringing samples
--First check if I have it already and if replacement due to age is needed.
Then grade level and subject. Most can't be previewed so just take a
--Good photos, illustrations, easy to read, basic facts, current...
--Read review and if possible look at the material.  You learn what
publishers are strong in certain areas and that influences your decision
--References are evaluated for 1) pertinence to the curriculum; 2) need in
collection; 3) depth, quality, accuracy of information; 4) reading and
interest levels; 5) appeal of format; 6) quality of binding, typeface;
7)organization of material; 8) cost.
--Most purchases are made after reading favorable reviews in professional
selection tools, particularly Booklist, Library Journal, BookReport, etc.
Some are selected after examining vendor displays at conferences or by
examining samples brought by visiting sales reps at my library.  Some are
made after visiting other high school libraries and finding out which
sources are most valuable to those students.
--Professional publications like School Library Journal, Booklist;
curriculum needs/grade levels/reading
levels, recommendations of colleagues, personal experience.
--LM-Net, reveiws.

5.      Which reference resources do your students use the most?

--worldbook print
--World Book Encyclopedias, DK's encyclopedias, Almanacs (world & Texas)
--World Book, Encarta encyclopedia CD
--World Book encyclopedia. Internet, animal encyclopedias, World Book
-- Ency., CD ency., author's biographical books, dict., SIRS, atlas, almanac
--World book; the Internet (even though they have a hard  time finding
information sometimes.  They won't listen to me  when I try to tell them
that it's not the best resource for what they are looking for.)
--World Almanac is heavily used by everyone, but our students use many
sources at different grade levels.  Occupational Outlook Handbook is also
very popular.
--it really depends on the project - there is no one answer - animal
reports use animal resources, biographies use  .....  well you get the
--World Book, Grolier CDrom, World Almanac
--encyclopedias print, internet, online encyclopedias, nonfiction books
--Almanacs.  Students use a variety of them for finding all sorts of quick
--Times are changing quickly.  This past year I have seen an alarming trend
in which a growing number of students use computers as their first
reference stop, even when that is not a logical choice (as when they need a
--Print sources that are frequently used include general encyclopedias,
dictionaries, almanacs, atlases, literary references, health references,
geographic and cultural references, scientific encylopedias, bibliographic
--World Book - print, CD and online
-Grolier's Enc
--Culturgrams.  We have four sets of these:  two individually bound by
country so students can check them out, and two sets that stay as reference
in the library.  This publication gives an easy-to-understand, interesting,
well-organized look at the culture of many countries in the world.

6.      What strategies/activities do you utilize to encourage your
students to use
        reference sources?

--unit on keyword searching and indexes Mostly work with teachers.
--I get a LOT of questions..these kids are so into LEARNING!  I tell them
to "look it up" if they don't know.  Sometimes I'll help them find the
source.  Most often I let them forage.  9 times out of 10 they can find it
themselves, and I hear the oh-so- satisfying "ah-ha!" moment.  I always try
to encourage the independent library patron mentality.  Of course, if they
are 1st graders or really young I model the search for an answer.  I know
they pick up a lot by watching me.
--Fairly much teacher directed. Students are introduced to and review
notetaking, index, table of contents, keys using World Book Encyclopedia
and Facts on File or National Geog. Book of Mammals. Students also work
through activities using World Almanac for Kids and the World Almanac.
Research projects assigned by teachers guide further uses of reference
--When they have a question, I take them to an appropriate source  to find
the answer.  When the teacher requests it, I teach the use of several
sources, emphasizing use of the indexes in print  materials
-- I teach a Library Science class with a huge reference books unit. I
encourage teachers to request a variety of sources when researching. I pull
these books for students when they are doing research and show them how to
use them.
--I have a reference club.  I give the students a question  and clues each
week--even if they figure out the answer from  the clues they still have to
look it up.  Everything else is  connected to the teacher and classroom
--First, I show each new source to a teacher I think will love it.  They'll
often borrow it for several days.  Later, their students will come in
saying, "Mr. S said to ask you about that new book . . . ."  Those teachers
will also promote it to other teachers.  Second, I develop pathfinders for
common types of assignments. Third, I work with teachers to design
assignments; every library assignment includes a brief lesson on one source
and suggestions of other sources to try.  Once a student becomes familiar
with a source, they come back to it again and again.
--work with classroom teachers, develop web pages that incorporate print
and nonprint sources, teach how to use appropriate to assignment
--Prior to using ency. or alamanac, I use SVE kits about the almanac and
ency.  I always allow one session as a hands on browsing thru the book.
Then some practice finding whole group time. I try to always review how to
use before the students actually use it.  For computer CDroms-use a TV View
for whole class viewing
--We know in advance what the assignment is before the class comes to the
LMC and we take a few minutes to show the students the reference tools that
will help them with the assignment.
--CQ Researcher.  While this is actually a weekly periodical, we use it as
reference for students doing research on contemporary issues.  Each weekly
publication is devoted to a single topic.  In depth coverage is provided
with both a pro and a con viewpoint.
-When classes come in for research, a few minutes at the beginning of the
period are devoted to the appropriate research materials for their general
topics.  If a "new" type of reference, such as literary sources, is
recommended, time will be spent explaining how to use its features.  I
spend the remaining class time helping the students individually as
--I plan research units with teachers.  These units are based on the
content of the classroom curriculum and require students to use information
literacy and technology skills in order to complete the projects.  I teach
very basic research skills to primary kids, even kindergarten and first
grade - locating materials, using call numbers/letters, knowing the
difference between fiction and nonfiction, using books to answer questions,
arranging facts in webs and charts, etc. all in context with what they are
studying in their classroooms.
--Work with the teachers to design reseach projects that go with their

7.      Which reference/information skills do find the most difficult to teach?

--skimming, Boolean logic and advantages and use of an index.
--I'd say scanning an article, from an encyclopedia for instance, for the
exact information they're looking for.  Sometimes they get bogged down in
the wordiness or the thickness of the book.  I try to teach them to scan
with their eyes for keywords.  It takes them a while to get it.
--choosing key words
--A-To use the index to the encyclopedia FIRST!  B-Names are looked up last
name first.
--Keyword notetaking.
--Internet use because there are so many search engines available
--How to "decipher" books with no explanatory sections. Quotation books,
rhyming dictionaries, chronologically arranged history books and Roget's
thesaurus which reads by column, interpretation of data in almanacs,
reading economic maps, the wide-variety of formats used to present
information, and, most importantly, teaching students that there are TWO
ways to alphabetize, word-by-word and letter-by-letter and they need to
know both ways because 1/3 of the books in my library use the OTHER way.
--Note-taking.  Students tend to want to write down everything instead of
evaluating the usefulness of information for their needs.
--I need to improve online search skills - and then improve aide and
student skills in this area
-- Individual reference books with only one copy
-- note taking...taking thoughts and putting them into your own
words...writing down facts that students have found not just ones they
"think they know" from wherever..
--Computer, I am shocked that some students do not know how to turn on a
computer!  It slows the lesson down when you have to explain double
clicking a mouse to a high school student!
--Probably the most difficult to teach is Internet skills.  Kids have all
different skill levels, and few want to admit they need help.  They don't
pay attention to searching stategies demonstrated on a large screen, and my
computers are scattered so I don't have a lab setup.  I have printed
handouts of basic Internet search stategies readily available, but only a
very limited number of students use them. My best teaching of Internet
skills is on an individual "need" level:  I watch for kids having some
difficulty finding what they need and then give them search strategies
individually.  More often than not, the person sitting next to them also
listens in and starts a better search. This isn't a very efficient way of
teaching because the same lesson is repeated ten ormore times in some
classes, but it is effective on an individual basis.
--using a thesaurus, synthesizing information to create a new product

8.      Which reference/information skills do you most enjoy teaching?

--I love helping them figure out what source is best for their need.  It
takes practice to be a good "reference interviewer" and really get good at
asking the children the right questions to understand what they really are
trying to discover.  Sometimes what they ask for isn't really what they
mean to say!  I consciously work on developing my oral questioning of them,
while trying to be personable so they're comfortable enough to ask me
things a lot.  Through the questioning, I like to guide them to the right
source.  It's great to see them succeed!
--The Dewey Decimal System and place value.
--Utilizing the almanac and atlas.
--I'd love to teach internet searching, but I have only one computer for it
and one-on-one doesn't work with a class of 35. I enjoy teaching students
to use the index, searching a variety of sources
--Evaluating information.  When students realize that information becomes
dated and that information in print or online sometimes contains errors,
they begin thinking instead of just copying facts.
-- I like to work on an integrated unit with classroom teachers and teach
necessary skills that fit that unit
--World Almanac-fourth and fifth graders love it
--Teaching the idea that they should use a variety of tools...
--We do a scavenger hunt and it is lots of fun and we get really tired of
it with 2600 students (thank goodness all the classes don't sign up!)
--Despite my complaining, I do enjoy teaching all computer skills.  I also
enjoy teaching general reference materials, particularly the almanac.
However, I don't get to devote a lot of time to skill teaching because the
students always have a research project when they come as a class to the
library.  My lessons are limited to twenty minutes or less.
--literature skills like genre, point of view, story mapping; research
skills like narrowing a topic, locating information, skimming for facts;
production skills like using PowerPoint to present information
--Dictionary and Thesarus

9.      Please describe the 'ideal' reference collection for your school

--current and ever-changing with a sold foundation based on curriculum needs
--Enough of the basics (dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases)
from different publishers for a choice, and enough copies for a lot of
usage, plus a nice blend of the unique.  Items I consider unique might be,
the 4 volume handbookof Texas, Famous Speeches, A Look at who was a First
Lady, Movie/Cinema Guides, etc.
--One that is up-to-date and constantly changing to meet the current needs
of students/faculty. A wide range of up-to-date video, audio and text
reference tools and the
equipment for readily access of many databases directly from classrooms.
--At least 10 Internet computers. Access to online full-text magazines. At
least 3 CD ROM or online encyclopedias. Classroom sets of almanacs and
atlases. A good wildlife encyclopedia. Field guides to animals, plants.
Up-to-date comprehensive world atlas
-- One that isn't so old, that pages tear if you touch them. One with the
current edition on the shelf instead of the one you could afford because of
a grant 10 years ago.
-- large variety of print and non-print resources with  relevant materials
at all reading/comprehension levels which  covers the curriculum.
--My ideal reference collection would include reference standards from the
OED and Bartlett's, special encyclopedias, annual updates of statistical
sources and almanacs, and some popular reference items like the
Encyclopedia of Monsters and how-to books. It would also include about two
dozen networked CD-ROM sources and a website linking to online sources of
particular interest to our students.  Finally, it would include several
globes and a picture file.
--Two sets of World Book. Two other sets of Print encyclopedias. Three
animal reference sets. One animal/plant ref set. Almanacs. Identification
books. Biography sets. Sports bio sets. On-line encyclopedias and databases
(elibrary, Proquest). Composer and author sets. Anything else that a
teacher is planning research in - especially if I know a year ahead.  Sets
such as Fiesta and World Book's Christmas in other lands I circulate even
tho public lib keeps in reference.  Also many local Indian titles -
Colonial history - flags & countries & states - all circulate but are kept
in temp ref for special research projects.
--This would include 12 computer stations with towers for a variety of
CDrom ency including topic specific as well as general.  2 sets of the
latest World Book including the new children's one as well as Groliers
Student books.  2 copies of the same references books that most libraries
can't do without. For schools libraries they are usually too expensive to
keep updated like Facts on file, etc.
--One current set of print encyclopedias, lots of updated nonfiction books,
internet access, online encyclopedia, cd roms of related materials...
--Enough shelf space for all the books!!!!  Enough money to buy entire sets
of sources that add books yearly.   And most important the resources for
the students to find there answers.
-"Ideal" would encompass every appropriate reference title published--with
multiple copies.  "Ideal" is limited by space, budget, and staffing.  Ideal
means that print encyclopedias, atlases, dictionaries, and other reference
works are replaced (or added to) as soon as new editions come out.  Ideal
would also be having whole computer labs and multimedia stations available
to students without waiting or sharing.
School libraries can have exemplary reference collections, but ideal is an
impossible dream.
--I got to select the entire collection for my new school in 1995 and I
think we have close to an  ideal reference collection.  It is balanced
between general resources - encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, almanacs,
thesauri - and currriculum resources - animals, plants, physical science,
biography, history, cultures - and between print and nonprint resources and
it is fairly up to date.  Biggest needs are for a primary encyclopedia -
We're ordering the Student Discoverer from World Book - and for an
electronic encyclopedia for primary students.  No good one in sight yet.
--National Geographic index, World book enc., MacMillan Dictionary for
Children, Roget's Thesaurus.  Geographic Dictionary.  Atlases.

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