MeL a Great Resource for Students and Teachers

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Audrey Bowen, age 9, who is home schooled at her home in Vicksburg, learns what’s available to help her with her studies using MeL at the Vicksburg District Library.

By Eric Hansen, Vicksburg District Library

The Vicksburg District Library is gearing up for students and teachers looking for books and ready to research through MeL a guide to resources on line and within the library.

One of the best and under-used resources is MeL, Michigan’s eLibrary system. Library staff are ready and happy to assist patrons in discovering its capabilities. Most who are aware of MeL connect it with the interlibrary loan system that provides books from other libraries.

It’s much more than that. It’s intended to provide dozens of websites and other resources in one place to Michiganders with different goals, students and teachers included. The website, located at http://www.MEL.org, includes pages for “Kids,” “Teens,” and “Teachers.”
The “Kids” page links children to homework assistance with more than a dozen sites created by organizations such as Britannica, Scholastic, and World Book. Those resources help with subject areas such as literature, current events, math, economics and history – in particular, Michigan History. MeL Kids also links to online story-times, games and activities websites and facts about Michigan’s urban and rural areas.

For special assistance with book searches for homework and school projects, the circulation staff and the Youth Services Librarian, Stephanie Willoughby, are the best points of contact at the Vicksburg library.

The “Teens” section also provides homework help. Several resources are provided by companies that will become familiar to teenagers who continue into college coursework, such as Gale and InfoTrac. There are links to suggested reading categorized by demographics such as books for “Guys,” books with female African-American protagonists and reviews of graphic novels, anime, and manga.

A particularly important section includes college preparation information, such as budget planning and financial aid for college, SAT preparation, and college ratings provided by US News and World Reports. For college preparation assistance and research projects, the library advises patrons to contact Eric Hansen, the head of circulation and reference. He can assist with using MeL, but he has also taught college English composition and literature in several Michigan colleges, and provided library reference at the University of Michigan. For help with personal decisions, the “Teens” section also provides career and social advice in a “Life Happens” section. This section is intended to help young people with anonymous advice related to vocational or jobs problems, and healthcare and private questions.

The “Teachers” section provides classroom resources, training videos, slides, handouts for elementary- and secondary school-aged youth in K-12th grade. It links to staff resources meant for school media specialists, administrators, technology instructors. MeL provides links to other specialty sites for Michigan educators, a handy “Tips & Tricks” section, test preparation and technology resources, and a “K-12 Spotlight” with articles about the wonderful work that individual educators are doing statewide. In these ways the information there is a great tool for teachers’ who are lesson-planning, or who wish to connect with educators who are doing innovative work throughout the state.

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