Lately we've been getting lots of requests for help with research papers, and honestly, we love to point students to the best resources we have. Books, databases, and websites can all help you dig deep into whichever subject you've picked for your paper. Here's a few places to make sure you check in order to get the best information for your research time.
For books, it's worth starting with a look at children's nonfiction for middle school students. Even older students can find resources here - lots of the books in these collections are written at higher reading levels, without the density of books written for adults. Feel free to use the library catalog to start your search, but don't hesitate to ask a librarian when you come in for a little extra help.
But if you really want to know a research paper's secret weapon, it's databases.
Some of us remember reference sections full of huge books that had facts about nearly everything, or whole stacks of academic journals at larger schools. Luckily for today's students, we subscribe to a number of sources that have digitized those resources and made them easy to search and access from nearly anywhere. There are dozens, some paid for by the Bay County Library System, some paid for by the Library of Michigan. Here's a few of my favorites for middle school and high school:
This database introduces students to current information on some of the hottest topics for debate. If you have a persuasive essay to write, this is a great start. With subject pages ranging from video games to vegetarianism, the database lets you look at the information from both sides. Combined with research tools that let you save and cite articles, and this is one powerful database.
If you're writing about a person, there's no better place to start. You can either browse for ideas before you pick your subject, or find the page about your topic, where you'll find a list of articles from reputable sources that are ready for use in your papers. There are dozens of subject areas, from the ancient world to present.
You may remember sets of encyclopedias that took up an entire shelf (and we still have those!), but this database from the same company covers more topics than could ever fit in those 26 volumes. Leveled to be age- and reading-level-appropriate for students from elementary school through high school, this database offers clear information, along with pictures and videos on many subjects. It can also link you to related topics, and even to reliable websites that have been verified by the Britannica staff.