When it comes to research, World Book has long held a special place in the hearts of librarians and teachers alike. In the rapidly evolving world of online resources and shrinking budgets, though, acquisitions can no longer be based on past reputation. Students need current, easily accessible information, while librarians must purchase products that meet ever-changing curriculum standards without breaking the bank, needs that World Book Advanced meets with flair.
World book Advanced
Grade Level: 9 Up
School pricing is based on population size and starts at $549 for an annual subscription. The starting price for public libraries is also $549 annually or $100 per year as an add-on to a World Book Web subscription.
World Book has taken its comprehensive encyclopedia and added to it an extensive collection of primary-source documents; ebooks; handy time-line and citation builders; research tools comprised of a dictionary, atlas, and pathfinders; a collection of world newspapers; educator features; and interesting media items including videos, audio clips, and various images. Together with a streamlined homepage and effortless search process, the database combines functionality with wide-ranging content and is well positioned to replace a print standard.
Content and Usability
Options on the seamless “front page” include the research tools (such as a dictionary, atlas, and other pathfinders); up-to-the-minute Reuters headlines; links to the ebook center; the resource’s most-viewed articles; and its world of primary documents. The page is sparsely colored with an abundance of links. In a central window, users may perform a basic search of keywords, full text, or images, or choose to do an advanced search.
In the “World Newspapers” section, users can open a dropdown menu, select a country, and discover links to individual publications’ websites such as those of France’s Le Monde and China’s Beijing Daily. The pathfinders lead to information in the database on topics such as ancient Rome, the Olympic Games, and World War I, with each linking to related primary-source documents, biographies, ebooks, and media, as well as to detailed and valuable assistance on skills including writing, preparing a book report, and composing a speech. These “study skill” tools provide valuable information and will be of use to students using the site.
More than 3,700 e-books, among them Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays, Thomas Carlyle’s The French Revolution, and Mark Twain’s A Horse’s Tale , are available and can be searched by author, title, language (including Dutch, French, Spanish, and Portuguese), or genres such as American, classical, or world literature. Many of the titles are downloadable in either the epub or mobi format. A related feature is the coverage of primary documents (the Treaty of Ghent, the Alabama Constitution of 1901), many of which include images of the originals.
World Book’s handy citation builder allows users to produce citations in MLA, APA, and Harvard styles. A dropdown box eases the process by allowing researchers to select the type of source—website, film, book, government publication—used. A nifty “timelines” link enables the exploration of an existing World Book time line or on-the-fly creation of a new one. Students can choose a time span, add events and images of their own, and even name their timeline, which can then be saved.
Another neat facet of the site is the resource guides to both the United States and the world. The “Explore United States” link presents possible assignment topics; also offered are a handful of media items (including maps and recordings of the national anthems of various places), related study skills, and bibliographic information for further-reading resources. The “Explore the World” option presents drill-down maps that, while easy to use, are not very visually appealing.
Uncovering copious relevant materials is easy. Searching the term “Thomas Jefferson,” for example, returned 142 encyclopedia articles, 45 primary-source documents, 12 ebooks, 1 map, 14 images, 1 Supreme Court case, and 53 items from U.S. Presidential papers. The encyclopedia article features a collapsible table of contents along the left of the screen plus links to related ebooks, primary sources, and a multitude of germane tables and images. There is even an audio clip of an excerpt from a performnce of Jefferson’s first inaugural address.
Like other databases of this type, World Book offers a “my research” feature that allows students to create an account and save content and notes. The site also keeps track of the account holder’s most viewed articles and primary sources.
At the helpful “Teaching with Documents” section, teachers have access to lesson plans for various topics, including the Constitution, environmental issues, and events from U.S. and world history. Under the heading “The Ratification of the Constitution,” for example, are related primary sources, websites, special reports, Supreme Court cases, encyclopedia content, and a
solid overview of the topic. Six interesting and pertinent classroom and group activities will get students thinking and spark in-class discussions. Where available, primary-source documents include a link to state curriculums as well as MLA-formatted citations.
World Book has taken its wide-ranging print encyclopedia and used its content as a foundation for an exceptional, streamlined database that is both easy to use and great for research assignments. While the maps are of a lower quality than found elsewhere and the links sometimes err more toward quantity than quality, the writing is solid and the ease of use is first-rate. World Book Advanced captures some of the serendipitous discovery that made the print version a key component to student research.
Brian Odom, firstname.lastname@example.org, is a reference librarian at Pelham Public Library and a history instructor at Jefferson State Community College near Birmingham, AL.