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Better Than Google

While perusing our list of databases,trying to get an idea for my blog, I came across one I was unfamiliar with, called EBSCO Explora.  This database is sponsored jointly by both RCLS and New York State.  In a word, it is amazing.  I tried a variety of different search terms, and the results were so google-like, that I had to remind myself I was not using Google.
As a recap, people use Google as their primary search engine, because it is so easy to use. Just type in your word(s) in the search box and results are delivered instantly, nothing could be easier. When databases were constructed, they had problems.  Sometimes they used a "controlled vocabulary", so if you didn't choose the right term, you would get nothing.  Databases were not as intuitive or simple to use, so students rejected them, going for the easier option of Google, which would, in turn, lead them to Wikipedia, and the end of their search. While Wikipedia is not a bad place to start, it is a terrible place to finish, since it is not always as authoritative as it should be, and you will miss a lot of better information.
That is where the researcher should get serious, and turn to a subscription (we pay, not you as an individual) database like EBSCO Explora.
Where do I begin?  I searched various topics, both current and historical, both scholarly  and entertaining, and was very pleased with the results. Here is an example:
Suppose you were lucky enough to get tickets to see Hamilton, but you don't really remember too much about him.  Should you read Ron Chernow's book, Hamilton?  Should you Google him and read the wikipedia article?  How about this,  typing "Alexander Hamilton" in the Explora search box?  You will get an overview of Hamilton's life from a reputable source, a review of the musical, a discussion of why or why not he should be kicked off the $10 bill, and a letter he wrote to his "nut brown" darling (his wife), a primary source.  You can even watch an interview with actor Matthew Broderick as he attends opening night of the Broadway premiere.
The entries can all be listened to, and you can choose an American, British or Australian accent.  The articles themselves can be translated into about 30 languages. You can narrow your results by choosing why kind of source you want, books, magazine, academic journals, news, or primary source documents. You can also filter results by date and sort them in various ways.  In the advanced search option, you can limit results to lexile reading levels. Results can be saved to a folder, and there is room to make notes about the entry.
There is also a section "For Educators" which offers lesson plans and curriculum standards.
Students will enjoy the ease of use and the exciting multi-media which this database offers. New English language learners can increase their comprehension by listening to the text being read aloud, while following along with the text.
Using real life reference questions, I was able to find great information on magic squares, fracking, and To Kill a Mockingbird without using a reference book. While I am sometimes a bit nostalgic for the old days when librarians were the gate keepers of information, I am excited that we have a new way, a better and more efficient way to connect our patrons with information.  Is Explora better than Google?  Of course it is, just give it a try.

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