Online Resources Important Part of Meridian Schools

Two library officials are making an effort to keep the public aware of the electronic resources at its disposal.

Sandy Fields, the Library Media Director at Okemos High School, and Cyndi Webster, Library Media Director at Chippewa and Kinawa middle schools, recently spoke at a school board meeting in an effort to make both board members and the parents and students that are a part of the Okemos school district aware of the available online resources.

“The presentation to the board was to let them know what this information is, why it is important, and how instruction to use it takes place,” Fields said. “After all, they are the ones who create the budget that allows us to purchase the membership to REMC.”

The resources provide students from kindergarten through high school with easy access to research materials. The Okemos schools use two providers for the resources, the Michigan Electronic Library (MeL) and the Regional Educational Media Center (REMC).

MeL is a statewide provider, requiring only a Michigan driver’s license or library card. According to Webster, the electronic resources provided by MeL generally are more defined in terms of topic searches, offering databases in areas of study such as literature or history.

REMC is a local database provider throughout Michigan, accessible to school districts that choose to subscribe to their research databases. The databases provided by REMC are called Culturegrams, which offer information on different countries and states. Okemos is a member of REMC Center 13, which incorporates Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties.

“The databases provide students with access to magazine, newspaper and reference book articles,” Webster said. “While there are Web sites which also have good information, students have a hard time knowing which ones are authoritative and useful for their projects.”

The two librarians have made other efforts recently to help notify people about the online research tools available to students.

“Part of the role of a School Teacher Librarian is to keep people informed about information and how to retrieve it,” Fields said. “We sent newsletters home to parents, held classes with students 7-12, held workshops with teachers and evening workshops for parents interested in learning more about our databases.”

Through providing these opportunities, Fields and Webster hope to provide a better community for Okemos and opportunities for the students.

“Students need access to these databases for current research, but also to be familiar with the resources they will be using as undergraduate students as well as in their work lives.” Webster said.

While REMC resources are only available to students, the REMC’s Web site offers information about the services they provide to different regions. Their state Web site can be found at http://www.remc.org and Okemos’ Center Web site can be found at http://www.remc13.org. MeL databases, however, are accessible by any Michigan resident. To learn more about MeL’s resources, visit http://www.mel.org.

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