SIRS Discoverer (not for Dummies)

The SIRS Discoverer database is designed for elementary and middle school students and is provided through the POWER Library by the state of Pennsylvania.  County library staff have access to the link through, and CLP staff  have access through the CLP site.  This resource has full text articles and images from over 1900 domestic and international newspapers, magazines and government documents.  It also contains content from reference books and over 30000 color graphics, photos and maps.

New to the site are nonfiction books (in PDF format) organized by topic.  Many of them are Dorling Kindersley books (Eyewitness series of books for children).  Also new is the iThink Skills Tutor, a tutorial which helps students, through the use of an animated guide, to select a research topic and create a research strategy.  The Skills Tutor might interest a student new to writing research who might use it once or twice.  It’s more of a novelty than something that might become an essential teaching tool, mostly because it seems to offer the same limited number of potential research topics each time you start the tutorial.

The Skills Discoverer feature is a good way to find reliable information on the web for hundreds of topics, and the interface is easy to navigate with pre-selected topics.  The interface eliminates the need for time-consuming keyword searching within the database.

Educators will like the ability to search a state’s Common Core Standards for any subject area.  The database also provides hundreds of teaching resources for any given standard in a subject area.  There are research articles and activities for potential lesson plans.  The link to this is featured prominently on the site under Common Core Correlations (nice alliteration!)

There is a section of the site with science experiment ideas called Science Fair Explorer.  This is a fun tool if limited in number of potential experiments.  SIRS Discoverer however is a useful resource in and of itself with thousands of references for science education.

Strongest Pro for using SIRS Discoverer:  thousands of reliable websites on a ton of topics in the Skills Discoverer section of the site. Even older students, adults and library staff would make use of this resource.  Although SIRS Discoverer is for students serious about finding research, there are still some fun graphical interactive parts of the site.  (Adults like me who appreciate larger typeface at times will also like the easy-to- read layout of their website).  The additional of hundreds of high quality PDF books also adds to the site’s attractiveness. 

If you’ve used SIRS Discoverer, please give us your review.

Ann Andrews

Reference Department

Cooper-Siegel Community Library