School Research Resources Online: California provides access for all

by Guest Author: Mary Beth Barber, California State Library

Every parent has faced it: the research paper. The first report and bibliography are introduced in fourth or fifth grade, and the assignments get more sophisticated every year after. How can a parent help?

The California State Library makes over a dozen school-library resources available to every school in the state through the K-12 Online Resources program. These are available through the computer, so you can help your young researchers from the comfort of home.

Britannica School, with informational articles for children of all ages, is an ideal first stop for research. There’s Britannica Escolar too, para los estudiantes quieren información en español. Explore at and

For science, National Geographic Kids online is a great way to look at the magazine for ideas. If the research involves environmental issues, Gale In Context: Environmental Studies has information on science and social-science topics of environmental issues. There’s also the Gale Interactive: Science resource with modules of complex science information too. Gale’s California page can connect you.

Children can learn about their favorite books and authors and hear the stories behind the books from TeachingBooks, as well as find other diverse books. Parents can explore too and find books to request from the local library for summer reading at

There are multiple resources available from ProQuest. Ask your school or district librarian or educational technology lead for more information on how your child can access these resources (described below) through their school interface. Most of these resources are also available through local libraries under the “online resources” or “homework help” sections.

  • Students can explore the world with CultureGrams and learn about real people across the globe and their daily lives.
  • Beginning researchers can start with SIRS Discoverer to pick topics then search for articles.
  • As the students get older (middle and high school), the report assignments may tackle critical thinking skills where students are to look at topics with multiple viewpoints. SIRS Issues Researcher is the ideal resource for these reports.
  • As a student advances, the report writing becomes more sophisticated, so do the resources, like eLibrary with a massive repository of articles, but also with a guided interface.
  • If the process feels overwhelming to the students, they can utilize Research Companion, a guide of short videos that help students break down the research and report writing process.
  • For those juniors and seniors looking to be college and career ready, the academic database ProQuest Central Student provides a view of what research will be like in college. It has a huge repository of millions of items from multi-media to dissertations.
  • If video is of interest, all students can access the PBS Video Library from ProQuest, with over sixteen hundred educational-content videos.

All of this is available to your student 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is an ongoing program, not temporary assistance, so students can rely on them. And all the resources have citation tools, so crafting bibliographies is as easy as click-copy-paste.

Find out more by going to the State Library at under the “Student and Teacher Resources” tab and make library research easier for your child … and for you!

Mary Beth Barber is the manager of the K-12 Online Resources program, a partnership between the California State Library and the Riverside County Office of Education. She is also the mother of a middle school student, and has volunteered for LCAP, curriculum & standards, and school site councils for over a decade.