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Library Databases in K-12 Education

Educational Support Services

Michael Garrett

Educational Technology Coordinator

Last week, at a statewide meeting of County Office of Education library and media leaders, California State Librarian, Greg Lucas, announced an initiative to license online library databases and provide them to all K-12 students for free. The effort was spearheaded by the Riverside Public Library System, with an RFP set for December and a decision slated for March. Unfortunately, the $3M annual budget allocated for the initiative may not allow for the license of many resources (by comparison, Texas spends $5M annually for 2 databases). Currently, California is the only state not providing library databases to public school students.

For those unfamiliar, a library database is an organized collection of electronic information that allows a user to search for a particular topic, article, or book in a variety of ways (e.g., keyword, subject, author, title). Many library databases contain the full text of articles from academic journals, magazines and newspapers, as well as books. Library databases are a preferred source of reference and research information compared to a general web search due to their accuracy and credibility, indexing of content by subject and reading level, and tools to assist with research and citation.

In our County, most K-12 students have access to these essential library database resources via the ETC Portal. District membership in the ETC Consortium provides students, teachers and parents with 24/7 access to collections from Gale/Cengage, including collections focused on biographies, US and world history, science, as well as a collection highlighting pros and cons on current social issues, reinforcing students’ critical thinking skills.

Recently, San Luis Coastal’s use of ETC Portal library databases was featured in two online articles: Improving College Readiness Skills Speaks Volumes in Literature and Strengthening Research Skills in Science and Beyond. The articles emphasize the value of digital research tools in saving time and boosting test scores, as well as the importance of developing students’ ability to effectively search and find high-quality research resources in preparation for college.


Michael Garrett
Manager, Educational Technology Center (ETC)
San Luis Obispo County Office of Education (SLOCOE)
Secretary, California Counties Educational Technology Consortium (CCETC)
Ph: 805.782.7290
Fax: 805.544.5174

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