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Disappearing databases

I recently heard from colleagues in our nearby big city. 

The school district there will no longer be able to fund its ProQuest subscription databases.  The decision to fund will now be in the hands of school principals.

Students will still be able to access the state’s POWER Library databases, but unless librarians can quickly convince their principals of their value, students in city schools will likely have to do without other curricular products they’ve learned to count on.  Though there has already been an extension, the plug gets pulled at the end of the calendar year. 

The district newly equipped its classrooms for wireless.  Laptops from the Classrooms for the Future grant continue to enter high schools.  With the commerical products pulled, and no budget for collection additions (from Gale, Facts On File, ABC-CLIO, and many others), what quality curricular materials will students be able to access on those laptops? 

For students and teachers involved in inquiry-based work, the rich, developmentally-appropriate, curricular responsive resources provided by databases, are more important than textbooks. 

Twenty-first century academic library collections should include a variety of quality databases carefully selected to meet the needs of learners.

This is an equity issue. Students in many of our suburban schools take these resources for granted.  Databases are part of the academic culture of their schools.

I know that urban administrators have critical funding decisions to make.  I know that databases are not often on the top of their lists, especially mid-year.

Nevertheless, I hope we can help convince the principals of our city high schools of the quality curricular content commercial databases provide.  I hope the district can find the funding to resubscribe. 

(A while back I created a VoiceThread arguing the value of databases.  Perhaps it will help.)

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Marie D'Onofrio says:

    Why is this district assigning information management to the principals? That is not in their realm of expertise.

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