20 Databases to Get You Back to School

  • by Meredith Mann

    In the blink of an eye, summer is almost over, and it’s time to fill backpacks with Mead notebooks and sharpened #2 pencils. Besides the textbooks and school supplies, however, there are plenty of resources online to help you with your studies. Whether you’re practicing your reading skills, prepping for the science fair, beginning your first research paper, or (hello, teachers!) lesson planning one of these activities, the New York Public Library’s databases are ready to support you in your learning.

    As an added bonus, many of our online resources are available outside of the Library, so they’re easy to incorporate into your home or classroom routine. All you need is an NYPL library card. So click away, explore this list of 20 databases — remotely available unless otherwise noted — and get ready to go back to school.

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    Middle and High School Students

    1. African American Experience
      Explore African American history and culture, from ancient African civilizations to the transatlantic slave trade to the Black Lives Matter movement. Topics are illustrated with reference documents, audiovisual material, and digitized primary sources. “Perspectives” guide students through selected questions with supporting documentation. If you like this resource, check out one of the others from this provider like Latino American Experience and Daily Life through History.

    2. Biography in Context
      Access biographical details, images, and video for over half a million people, from Leonardo da Vinci to Simone Biles. For more in-depth biographies of American historical figures, try American National Biography.

    3. Career Cruising
      Find information on professions, higher education institutions, financial aid options, and scholarships. Note: This database collects personal information from users as part of its service, which is then stored by the database provider. We encourage you to read their privacy policy.

    4. Columbia Gazetteer of the World
      Locate current and historical information about cities, countries, and geographic features with this online atlas.

    5. Credo Reference
      Begin your research with full-text, searchable access to hundreds of multidisciplinary reference book collections, including art, history, law, medicine, psychology, technology, bilingual dictionaries, and encyclopedias.

    Class at St. Peter Claver parochial school, c. 1950. Teacher is Sister Felicite. Image ID: 1270335
    Class at St. Peter Claver parochial school, c. 1950. Teacher is Sister Felicite. Image ID: 1270335
    1. Explora Middle School / Explora High School
      Search across thousands of reference works, scholarly journals, and newspaper and magazine articles geared toward middle school and high school students, respectively. Like Credo Reference, this is a good starting point for a research project. (There's also a teacher's companion.)

    2. LearningExpress Library
      Review test prep books and practice exams that cover the PSAT, SAT, and TASC exams, along with many others.

    3. Opposing Viewpoints
      Research different perspectives on frequently debated topics like music censorship and medical marijuana using current news coverage, audio, and reference sources.

    4. PressReader
      Incorporate current events into your classroom with these full-color digitized newspapers and magazines from around the world.

    5. U.S. History in Context / World History in Context
      Browse U.S. and world history topics — or search for a person, place, or subject — to find a range of relevant content, including academic articles and digitized primary sources.

    Elementary School Students

    1. Amazing Animals of the World
      Learn about over 1,000 animals worldwide: what they look like, where they live, what they eat, and what threatens them. Older students might prefer Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia instead.

    2. America the Beautiful
      Explore U.S. history by person, date, topic, or state with this online encyclopedia.

    3. BrainPOP
      Watch short videos on a variety of STEM, social studies, English, health, art, and music topics. This resource is available at any NYPL library.

    4. Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos
      La Enciclopedia estudiantil hallazgos en línea es una enciclopedia de conocimientos generales. Contiene información sobre gente, lugares, objetos, acontecimientos e ideas. Aprovecha esta enciclopedia para investigar y divertirte.

    5. Explora Elementary
      Review multiple reference sources geared toward elementary school students — such as Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia and American Heritage Children's Dictionary — through a single search box. This database includes material previously accessed through Searchasaurus and Kids Search. (There's also a teacher's companion.)

    1. The Flix Series
      Introduce students to a variety of topics, each with an eBook and accompanying video. FreedomFlix covers American history; ScienceFlix covers science; TrueFlix covers social studies, nature, and science; and BookFlix covers more general themes and language arts.

    2. New Book of Knowledge
      Search this encyclopedia for reference articles, as well as information about current events. Or, spark curiosity with “wonder questions” like “Do fish sleep?” and “What did the colonists eat?” Older students might prefer Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia instead.

    3. New Book of Popular Science
      Access encyclopedia entries for science, health, and technology topics, including scientist biographies, science games and projects, and even star guides for the budding astronomer.

    4. TumbleBookCloud Junior
      Incorporate reading into your classroom, either as a group or independently, with online eBooks, read-alongs, videos, graphic novels, and audiobooks.

    5. World Book Online: Kids
      Foster learning with another easy-to-browse, colorful encyclopedia that includes games, activities, and science projects.

    Do you have a favorite online resource for teaching and learning not listed here? Share it in the comments!