Research and Reference Tools

Comparing e-Library Elementay and Kids InfoBits 

The Trumpet of the Swan is a regular read aloud for my first graders and it always leads to some research about trumpeter swans. I typed trumpeter swans into both eLibrary and Kid InfoBits.




21 Kids InfoBits 221 elibrary t swan

Both sites had appropriate and usable content. Kids InfoBits had much less but it was more specifically targeted. eLibrary had lots of results but many were not about trumpeter swans. Kids InfoBits had fewer types of selections (only one photo and 4 magazine articles) while eLibary had photos, magazine articles, books, newspaper articles and transcripts. I also found that eLibrary had encyclopedia sources while Kids InfoBits did not.

Printed selections on both sites were somewhat long and did not include photos that were most likely a part of the original articles. Photos help with readability for youngsters.  Most articles were above reading level for first graders and had lots of words on one page which isn’t best for young readers. The eLibary allowed for sorting by reading level (and several other sorts) but I didn’t find a lot of early reader selections. Kids InfoBits was less friendly to sort. It was sorted by types (photo, magazines, etc.) but I found I could go into an advanced search to sort in other ways.

I wanted to see if the low number of selections on Kids InfoBits was limited by my choice of topic so I searched Harriet Tubman (another topic we study.) Kids InfoBits came up with 37 selections in 4 categories. eLibary had in 5 categories. eLibrary had 295 selections in 5 categories.

21 Kids Infobits Harriet

I think first graders could independently search through the photos and that is of value.  Both sites could be used for whole group, teacher-led research which is a common and appropriate thing to do in first grade.

21 elibrary t swan 2

I loved this photo of a trumpeter swan taking off. There is a description in The Trumpet of the Swan of Louis (the young trumpeter swan) learning to do this. This would be a great photo to illustrate it.



Both sites have citations available and both have been created for educational use.  In fact, my 21Things instructor convinced me that these are sites to be trusted and used for student research!

I am really happy to have explored these sites and I feel really comfortable using them with first graders and plan to do so this year.



I found all of the advanced databases suggested to be academically well beyond what I can use with my class in first grade though I could use them personally and share information from them in another format. I searched “trumpeter swans” in all of them. The three sites suggested:

Academic One File:  This has peer reviewed academic journal articles. It is geared for post-secondary use.

General One File:  This has news and periodical articles. I found it appropriate for high school and adult users.

General Reference Center Gold: This has infromation from newspapers, magazines, poems, trade publications and reference books. This seemed appropriate for high school and adult users.

I thought perhaps I could find the most useful selections in General Reference Center Gold since it had a wider variety of materials. I ended up finding a book review on Academic One File that gave me information about a children’s book about trumpeter swans (screenshot below.)

21 academic one book review

I don’t feel these sites are the best resource for lower elementary, however I’m glad to be aware of them.


21 hoax website

This content of this website is not ethical. It purports to sell you ancestors. It is understandable but not believable. It is definitely tongue in cheek. (George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are some of the ancestors you can buy.) Several of the links do not work and all of the advertisers are not linked. There is a review section but there are no reviews since 2009. The .org would seem to add validity but when I truncates back , I found it is linked (authority/credibility) to an individual. (The individual died in 2012.)  The purpose of this sight is humor. It is quite easy to distinguish untruths. I found the sight easy to navigate (design/usability) although many things are obviously there for show such as the # of visitors that just spins without stopping. I would not use this site.

21 hoax website dog island

The content of this site is very simple and not well written. The concept is clear but the details are not clear or well thought out.  Authority/Crediblity: This disclaimer is at the bottom of the site: Copyright © 2003-2013 The Dog Island – Disclaimer  Some of the links do not work or take you to unrelated sites. The news links had no link to Dog Island. Purpose: The purpose of this site is humor and maybe finding out how easy or hard it is to fool people. Usability/Design The site was easy to use and fairly well designed. It would need working references and dates and much better writing might to make it somewhat believable. I would not use this site.

The two sights I looked at were fairly obvious in being hoaxes. There didn’t seem to be an evil motive behind either. The authors just seemed to want to have fun and create humor…and maybe see if they could fool someone! I know that there are probably sites out there that are far more dangerous and deceiving. I’m glad to begin to have some tools to evaluate websites.


21 citation tool

I found an article on Google Scholar about trumpeter swans and created the citation below with the tool above.

Henson, P., & Grant, T. (1991). The effects of human disturbance on trumpeter swan breeding behavior. Wildlife Society Bulliten, Vol. 19,(3), 248-257. Retrieved January 1, 2014, from




One thought on “Research and Reference Tools

  1. This Thing has not changed though Michigan eLibrary has a new interface. I don’t know if you noticed that or not. I really like the new look and feel of it. They are still making tweaks and adding tutorials to the site. I love the site of selling an ancestor. It absolutely makes no sense. Nice job doing your comparisons of the databases.

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