Reference Blog

Opposing Viewpoints in Context

Here’s another terrific database that often gets lost among the many resources offered online by the Library.  Opposing Viewpoints in Context, available on the Alabama Virtual Library, is one of those practical databases that provide excellent information for school assignments ranging from middle school to the first two years of college.  Essentially, it’s an online resource covering today’s hottest social issues from offshore drilling to climate change, from healthcare to immigration. 

Opposing Viewpoints began life many years ago as a series of books that tackled current topics of interest.  Long a favorite of librarians, it reprints magazine, newspaper and editorial articles as well as speeches on a variety of issues.  You can always find good arguments for both sides of important issues.  Opposing Viewpoints is a perfect source for current events reports and accumulating information on debate topics.  The online version keeps the resources contained in the print series but adds so much more.  Articles from Cengage Gale’s database Infotrac One File are included as well as many extra newspaper and journal articles.  Statistical information such as charts, graphs, etc. can be copied and inserted into a report.  There is also a large image file that can be copied.  You can search from the pre-set “Issues” list that collects resources on hot-button topics or do a key word search using Boolean operators.  Opposing Viewpoints in Context is a one-stop source for school reports and it’s available for free through the Alabama Virtual Library.

Learning Express Library

Here’s another one of the Library’s databases that more people need to know about.  Learning Express Library provides a diverse collection of interactive online tests including skills building tests for elementary, middle or high school students, SAT and ACT test preparation, GED test preparation, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, ASVAB sample tests and many, many more academic and career tests.  It’s easy to access; go to and open an account with your library card number and a self-created password.  This will allow you to access the site again and again, saving and re-taking the various tests as necessary.  Learning Express Library also maintains an extensive collection of e-book test preparation and career guides that can be viewed online (they’re not interactive though) whenever you want to look at them.  Like Homework Alabama, it is provided to public libraries by the Alabama Public Library Service. You can also access it by going to our web page at, selecting “Online Resources,” and looking for it in the drop down box.  Remember, you do need an up-to-date library card to create an account for this resource.

This database provides a wealth of study and test preparation possibilities as well as career skills resources.   For more information on this resource and other similar resources, contact the Reference & Adult Services Department by calling 256.532.5975 or email us at askus [at] hmcpl [dot] org.


Webinar for Grant Seekers

The Huntsville/Madison County Public Library will be hosting the free webinar, “Before You Seek a Grant:  A Checklist for New Nonprofits,” on Wednesday, July 14th, 1:00-2:00PM in the Second Floor Events Room. 

The presentation is an excellent starting point for anyone seeking funding for their non-profit organization.  The Library is a cooperating collection of The Foundation Center and maintains a collection of resources for grant seekers in many formats.  There will be a tour of the Library’s grant resources after the program.  Please contact the Reference & Adult Services Department at 532.5975 or “askus [at] hmcpl [dot] org” for more information.

Homework Alabama

Sometimes library patrons are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of online information provided by the Library.  As a result, they often overlook terrific sites that are lost in the mass of data that can be accessed.  One very helpful but underused database within the Library's collection is Homework Alabama.

Homework Alabama is essentially a free tutoring service offered to Alabama students Grades 3-12, students needing help with college acceptance and introductory test preparation, and adult learners working toward a high school or professional degrees.  It is available Sunday-Thursday, 3-10PM.  Students simply choose what subject area they need help in (math, science, social studies, writing, standardized test prep), enter their ZIP code and they will be connected to an online tutor who will interact with them through a chat-like interface.  There is a blackboard feature that allows the student and tutor to work together to write and solve problems.

Homework Alabama is accessible with most major web browsers as well as most Windows and Mac operating systems.  In addition, it includes a large searchable database of testing and career resources that are useful in test preparation and exploring career choices.  It is provided to the public through all public libraries within the state by the Alabama Public Library Service with funding support from several other state organizations.  You may access it on the Library's webpage at and then select "Online Databases."  Think about it, with Homework Alabama free tutoring help for all the students in your family is available at the click of a mouse.

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