August 20, 2014

Subscribe to SLJ

Nominate Your Favorite Database

ljx131101refWebDB2 Nominate Your Favorite DatabaseFebruary is almost here, and at many libraries that means that the budget year is more than halfway over. Decisions about which materials to buy with your precious dollars—use them or lose them!—aren’t far off. In SLJ’s April issue, we’d like to offer some help in choosing the biggest ticket items out there—databases—by running a librarian-nominated list of the best resources available. We’d love to hear from you with your nominations. Which database knocked your socks off lately? You can let me know in the comments below or at

We’re looking for titles in categories such as the ones listed below—or make up your own category. We’d also like a short explanation of what makes the resource “most-improved,” “best buy,” “most ambitious,” etc. A bulleted list of reasons is fine. We’ll be using your reasons as direct quotations within the article, which will appear in print and then online. Nominations will close on February 14, 2014. However, please let me know if you are not comfortable with being quoted directly.

Suggested Database Categories:

Best for meeting Common Core standards
Best for Reluctant Readers
Best for Elementary School Students
Best for Middle School Students
Best for High School Students
Greatest Content Upgrade
Greatest Usability Revamp
Quirkiest/Most Eccentric
Most Ambitious (in scope or content)
Most Improved (overall)
Best Integration of Media
Most Unlikely Hit (with users)
Most Elegant (aesthetics and functionality)
Best Buy
Best Integration of External/Outside Content
Best Original Content
Your Patrons’ Favorite Database(s)

Henrietta Thornton-Verma About Henrietta Thornton-Verma

Henrietta Thornton-Verma (, @ettathornton) edits Library Journal and School Library Journal’s reference review columns and covers ereference and digital databases for LJ. Before joining LJ’s staff, Etta was reference editor at SLJ for five years and edited that magazine’s Series Made Simple supplement. Etta, who is from Ireland, has also been a reference librarian and a library director and is the mom of two avid readers.



  1. Most Ambitious: Gale’s Global Issues in Context. In this ever-shrinking world, students need an understanding of global events that incorporates world views other than their own. Gale attempts to provide that in it’s one-of-a-kind database. Covering global events, it pulls not only from a variety of top-quality sources, but also provides sources from around the world. As a librarian from an international school, I struggle to sources that are not US or European centric. Gale provides that in this database, which is not only a must for our MUN group, but by far our most-used database.

    Best Original Content: Facts on File Issues and Controversies in American History. I really love this database. Focusing on key events in US History, FoF write their articles based around solid research questions. They give multiple points of view and leave it up to the students to draw their own conclusions. They also link to multiple primary source material. I not only wish more history databases would follow this example, I wish FoF would use this model with more of their databases.

    • Aack! It should be “its” in the first paragraph of course, and not “it’s,” but I can’t edit and the English major in me can’t let it slide. So here’s the correction! : )

    • Patricia Canini says:

      Best for Elementary School: PEBBLE GO with modules on animals, earth & science, biographies and social studies. It is very user friendly and suitable for K-3 — as not many databases are!
      Our students love it and our teachers have been very pleased with these databases.

      • Definitely, PebbleGo is at the top of my list for a database that has its audience firmly in mind. It is perfect for K-2, and is helpful to ESL students as well.

      • Pebble Go is definitely the best Primary database! So great, especially since it reads in a real voice plus has great visuals!

  2. Christina Cucci says:

    Best Elementary: Pebble Go from Capstone, animals and social studies

    Newest for Elementary: Just subscribed to Early World of Learning by World Book. Great early reading activities for pre k and k students.

    Best for Reluctant Readers and Most Popular with Students: More Starfall, interactive, leveled and differentiated, highly engaging for early learners k-2

  3. Greatest Usability Revamp: Britannica School Edition. My students like the less cluttered landing page, but especially appreciate the different reading levels and the translate feature which is helpful to our ESL students.

    Best Elementary (K-2): Pebble Go. Superb. We love the visual navigation, with the interactive search field for more advanced readers. We also love that the information is laid out with headers and that’s there’s even a citation generated for each article. We’re waiting with bated breath for a Life Sciences module. We use it for research and also to teach features of non-fiction.

  4. Conrad Weiser West Elementary loves PebbleGo! It is a great non-fiction resource for students in K-4 that they can easily use independently, or follow along as the text is read to them.
    It was difficult to find good non-fiction research materials for the varied levels of our students reading ability. This program has solved that problem. It is an excellent resource that is used over and over again.
    PebbleGo is available to students and staff through our school computer network. We have also added 60 iPads this school year, which also have PebbleGo as an application. Our library’s website also has a link for our students and their families use while at home.
    We have expanded our database to include the Biography and Social Study applications for 2013-14. We receive positive feedback on a constant basis from students, faculty and parents – “We Love PebbleGo!”

  5. We love all of the Pebble Go’s and Culture Grams!

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind