Directions for Using the Library Media Center for Project Research
Searching for Printed Information
Once the students have brainstormed ideas and settled on one or more large questions to investigate, they may profit from a visit to the school media center or local library. Students may need a step-by-step review of how to use the resources there. Enlist the media center specialist or librarian for guidance in teaching students to do library research.
When students are ready to begin research, the teacher may wish to have them follow the procedure below:
- List on paper the main words that describe or have something to do with the question or topic.
- Look up the selected words in the catalog (searching by subject and/or keyword) to discover which books may contain useful information and where to find them in the center. Write down the call numbers of the books that might be useful.
- Look on each end of the stack to find the call numbers for books contained on that stack. Each book has a call number on its spine.
- Also check other books nearby in the stacks that are about the same or similar subjects, and read the table of contents and index of these books to decide if they are useful or not. If the research question is simple and you find a specific answer, just write down the answer. If your answer requires more complex material, then photocopy the needed information or check out the book that has the information.
- Use the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature or other magazine indexes or online databases to find magazine article titles. The media specialist or librarian can help with the indexes and with finding the actual magazine articles. Read your chosen articles in the library and take notes, or photocopy the article. Media centers and libraries often do not lend magazines or journals. There may be a fee for copying. Taking notes is sometimes a better choice because it saves time, money, and paper.
Giving Credit for Borrowed Resources
Students should learn early that authors of borrowed information from books or other resources must be given proper credit through documentation, such as footnotes and bibliographies.
Students may not need to develop sophisticated documentation skills at this point, but they should learn to copy down basic information such as the following and include it in their journal, report, or other writing in which they refer to the borrowed information:
- author of printed book or source of website
- title of book, magazine, newspaper, or website
- date of publication of book
- title, date, and pages of magazine or newspaper article
- URL of website
Learning about Copyright
Because students may be using information and graphics that they locate in printed materials or on the Internet, they need to learn about U.S. copyright law. The media center or library is an ideal setting for this instruction.
- Have students look through books, magazines, and websites to locate the copyright symbol.
- Have them think of instances when they may need to know whether material is copyrighted.
- Have students examine ways to use copyrighted materials (e.g., abiding by "fair use" legal guidelines, writing publishers or authors for permission to use copyrighted information or pictures, summarizing information in their own words and incorporating their own ideas, referring or linking the reader/viewer to copyrighted materials without quoting the text itself).