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Rowan Public Library has plenty of research resources

By Laurie Lyda

Rowan Public Library

For students of all education levels, research papers and projects are a routine and necessary exercise in developing critical thinking and writing skills. However, one of the hardest aspects of research-based writing is locating good sources, which are a necessity.

This is where Rowan Public Library can be a huge benefit to students seeking research materials for everything from elementary and middle-school projects to high school and college-level research papers.

Often, students are just getting started, and they’re unsure of what they need. If you were given an assignment sheet, bring that with you to the library. A handy copy of the assignment ensures that any assistance you request truly helps you get the materials that you need.

For example, students may ask staff to help them locate a source about treatments for opioid addiction, when the assignment actually calls for “a peer-reviewed, scholarly article about opioid addiction.”

Use the instructor’s given parameters to determine the purpose(s) of your assignment: Are you writing to inform, so looking for sources that provide foundational facts and information? Are you writing a call to action, so looking for sources that will motivate your audience? Are you writing an argument (and “argument” doesn’t always mean a pro/con approach) and seeking sources that allow you to prove a specific point to your audience? Or does your assignment have a combination of these purposes or an entirely different purpose?

While it’s good to begin a research project with a general subject in mind, like the issue of opioid addiction or the life of Jane Austen, be prepared for your final writing topic to shift as you delve into the research process – it can take some unexpected twists and turns.

This often happens as students find information that disagrees with their originally intended thesis (the point their research paper is making): They then have to either revise their thesis or locate enough factual, verifiable information to support their point despite the research that challenges it.

Once you have your assignment and its parameters and a general subject in mind, it’s time to dive into the research process – and RPL’s holdings contain a treasure trove of materials. Whether you’re at a branch or working remotely, as long as you have an Internet connection, you can access the RPL catalog. Visit RowanPublicLibrary.org and click on “Find Books.” This takes you to the catalog, and you may see a pop-up window requesting that you log in. If you don’t have that information handy, simply close the pop-up; however, if you do have your library card number and PIN and log in, then you can create lists of the resources you want to check out and also place items on hold. If you don’t know your PIN, visit your nearest branch and ask a staff member for assistance.

Placing items on hold is a wonderful convenience that makes locating materials so much easier. Rather than having to travel from branch to branch, when you place an item on hold, you select the pick-up location (headquarters in Salisbury, East branch in Rockwell, or South Rowan Regional in China Grove) that works best for you.

Your item(s) will be sent to the chosen pick-up location, and you’ll receive a notification when they’ve arrived. So, if you live in Rockwell and need a book from Salisbury but don’t have the time to go get it, you can place that book “on hold.” The book will then be sent from headquarters to East branch, and when it’s ready for pick-up, you’ll be notified of its arrival.

Pay attention to the return date that you’re given, though; items not picked up within the given timeframe are returned to their home branch, and you’ll have to put them on hold again.

After you’ve explored the catalog and located the books, Ebooks, and movies that might help with your research, head back to RPL’s home page and select “Online Tools.” This link takes you to a listing of the online resources that RPL patrons have free access to. There are many useful options here, and I always recommend that students familiarize themselves with NCLIVE.

When you click on the NCLIVE link, you’ll be taken to a page where you can select the database that best fits your research needs. For example, Gale’s “Literature Resource Center” offers author backgrounds, timelines and contextual information and literary analysis of specific works. Know that you’ll need your library card number and PIN to access these. Rowan-Salisbury Schools students can access these resources with their student ID and PIN. For RSS students, the PIN is the last four numbers of the student ID.

Students often begin their research using popular search engines and find promising articles only to hit a paywall that prevents public, free access to the article. Take note of the publication’s title, the article’s title, the publication date, and the author’s name, and then perform a search for that article through RPL’s online resources. Hopefully, you can find what you’re looking for there.

In addition to online databases, depending on the subject you’re researching, you might also explore the Edith M. Clark History Room’s page and even visit the History Room in person. Located on the second floor at Headquarters in Salisbury, its expansive collections are a boon for any researcher, particularly those interested in North Carolina history.

As your research progresses, it may take a bit of time to review your findings and decide what materials best meet your needs, so try to give yourself plenty of research time. Also be sure to keep track of your research. Keep an inventory of the articles you’re consulting, and always, always record the source information – you’ll need those details for the citations required by all research documentation styles.

Keep in mind that RPL has resources to help with every stage of a research-based assignment: All branches have areas where patrons can work, from study tables and carrels to computer labs, and headquarters and South Rowan Regional offer small study rooms, as well. In addition to research materials on an abundance of topics, RPL’s collection also includes writing and research guides, as well as documentation style guides. And if you need assistance with any part of your research process, ask a staff member – remember, many of us chose our careers because we love research.

Weekly events for children run through the week of April 28.

Baby Time: Infants to 23 months. A loosely interactive program introducing simple stories and songs to infants up to 23 months old with a parent or caregiver; 30 minutes. Headquarters, Char’s Little Stars, Wednesday, 10 a.m.; East branch, Tammie’s Tiny Sprouts, Mondays, 10 a.m.; South Regional, Miss Pat’s Tiny Tots, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.

Toddler Time: 18 to 35 months. Focused on sharing books, singing songs and encouraging listening skills with a parent or caregiver. 30 min. Headquarters, Reading Rumpus, Tuesdays, 10:30 .m.; East, Tammie’s Tot Time, Mondays, 11 a.m.; South, Miss Pat’s Wee Readers, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.

Preschool Time: To encourage the exploration of books and build reading readiness skills for children 3 to 5 years old with a parent or caregiver. 30 minutes. Headquarters, East and South, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

Noodlehead Story Time: Books and songs for all ages; primary focus is pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. 30-45 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; East, Tuesdays, 3:30 p.m.; South, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

Art programs: Activities and instruction based on various themes and media vary by branch. Appropriate for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Bethany’s Brushes, Tuesdays, 4 p.m.; South, Canvas Kids, Wednesdays, 4:30 p.m.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: Children 7 to 9 can practice their reading skills in a relaxed, dog-friendly atmosphere. Dogs registered through Therapy Dogs International are available for beginning and struggling readers to read aloud to them. Reservations are recommended but not required. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, selected Mondays, 3:30 p.m.; South, selected Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets Tuesdays at East branch meeting room, through May 23, 5 p.m. For more information, contact Tammie Foster at 704-216-7842.

Dr. Who’s Days: Travel through time and space with screenings of the classic BBC program, “Dr. Who.” Families are invited to attend. Headquarters, March 14 and April 11, 4:30 p.m.

Teen Advisory Board: Teens who join this board provide input on RPL’s teen programming and book selection and discuss current events and issues of interest. Members can count their hours of participation toward school community service requirements. East, March 13, April 10, 6:30 p.m.; South, April 6, 4:30 p.m.; Headquarters, March 28, April 25, 4:30 p.m.

Teen program: March is the MuV Chat for Teens; March 20, at all branches, “Dr. Strange,” 4:30-6:30 p.m. Enjoy movies and online conversation? If so, then join in the Teen Tech Week Celebration. Bring your smartphone, tablet or Apple device to “Dr. Strange” at your nearest RPL branch. This 2016 film stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor and has a runtime of 115 min. It is rated PG-13, so an adult must accompany teens ages 13 and under. Chat online with audience members at all three branches while watching the film at your RPL location. Free, open to individuals ages 11-18. For more information, contact Hope at 704-216-8258 or Hope.Loman@rowancountync.gov.

Lego free play: March 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., South Rowan Regional. The library’s Lego collection will be available for free play for children.

Explorer Club: March 18, 11 a.m.-noon, headquarters. “Unstoppable Me!” Join the club and its special guest from the National Federation of the Blind. The program will include an introduction to Braille and investigation of an actual Braille machine. Reading selections will share facts and stories about how each person is unique. Programs are most suitable for children in second through fifth grade.

Maker Mondays: March 13, 6-7 p.m., headquarters. See the RPL Cooperative Lab’s 3D printer in action. Learn about the process from start to finish, and witness how a 3D printer can make ideas reality.

Movie Monday at South: “The Kite Runner,” March 13, 6 p.m. This film is an adaptation of the bestselling novel of the same name by Khalid Hosseini. The movie is rated PG-13 and has a runtime of 127 min. Light refreshments; free; open to the public. All ages welcome; an adult must accompany children ages 13 and under.

“The Kite Runner” by Hosseini is the March reading selection for the Book Bites Book Club, which will meet at South Rowan Regional on March 28, at 6 pm. The book club is also free and open to the public. Call 704-216-7731 for more information.

Genealogy class: African-American Resources, March 25, 10 a.m., headquarters. This event, co-hosted by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County and the History Room of RPL, is free and open to the public. This class will concentrate on familiarizing participants with resources useful in genealogical research for African-Americans and other people of color.

Readers Connect: On a Dark and Stormy Night, March 22, 6-8 p.m., headquarters. This event is for mystery and thriller fans to discuss their favorite characters, authors and genres. Games, door prizes and refreshments will be provided. Free and open to the public.

Displays: Headquarters, Rowan Doll Society and Salisbury Academy; East, celebrating Dr. Seuss; South, North Carolina pottery.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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