SIRS Discoverer

Published by Social Issues Resources Series, Inc. This CD-ROM is an index and fulltext database. Highly recommended for grades 1-8. $650.00 for two discs the first year. Windows and Mac.

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Comprehensive and unique, SIRS Discoverer contains full text articles from over 300 magazines and newspapers on a wide variety of subjects. Broad categories covered by the CD-ROM are: Animals, Arts, Cultures, Drugs and Alcohol, Environment, Fiction, Health and Human Body, History and Government, Just for Fun, Sports, Technology, and Notable People.

There is also a special section of articles written by young people 18 years and under. Symbols are used to indicate if the article is fiction, has graphics, or includes activity ideas. Articles are color coded by reading level, which aids both teachers and students in article selection.

Added features and accompanying materials make SIRS Discoverer extremely desirable for school use. The disk contains a wordprocessing program onto which sections of an article may be copied and incorporated into a document. The complete American Heritage Dictionary is included on the disk! Entry information is extensive with multiple meanings, syllabication, part of speech, and origin given for each word. [Top of Page]

Ease of Use

The interface is attractive and user friendly. Categories in the menu are represented graphically. The different options and features, such as the dictionary, the map list, and the wordprocessing function, can be chosen by clicking on the icons. The disk's non-intimidating interface combined with its different search capabilities will enable students to move through the program with ease.

Two student workbooks come with the disk; one is for elementary grades and the other is for middle school. The workbooks focus on teaching the student search strategies such as subject tree search, keyword search, Boolean searching, and the use of truncation. An easy to understand user's manual and a book of article summaries is provided for the educator. [Top of Page]


The disk has great potential for educational use. SIRS Discoverer could be used for research, creative writing, language arts enrichment, reading comprehension activities, dictionary skills, and for developing search strategy. Though SIRS Discoverer is recommended for elementary and middle school grades, first graders, who cannot read, will not be able to use it. [Top of Page]

System Requirements & Installation

For Windows: a 386 or faster IBM PC or compatible computer with at least 4MB of RAM, PC or MS-DOS Version 3.30 or higher, Microsoft Windows 3.1, Times Roman Font (a TrueType font), hard disk drive with at least 6MB of available space, an SVGA or VGA color monitor capable of 16 colors (256 colors recommended), CD-ROM drive.

For Macintosh: Apple Macintosh computer with at least 10MB of available space, color monitor capable of 256 colors recommended, CD-ROM hard drive.

Installation: requires the use of a 3.5" install diskette; this makes installation different but not difficult. The manual is excellent. [Top of Page]

Other Reviews

Morris, Bonnie. "Electronically Seeking: SIRS Discoverer." Wilson Library Bulletin. January, 1995. Page 105:
     "The editors at SIRS have managed to make research fun
      in this fantastic new product." 

Reviewed by Jacquelyn Dimsdle, graduate student at UT Austin.
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