COMPASS: The California Online Media Program for Access and Student Success

COMPASS logo

California offers — at no cost to public schools, districts, local libraries or students — online educational content and tools with COMPASS: the California Online Media Program for Access and Student Success.

Guiding students and educators to school-library content and tools. These resources provide teachers, school librarians, local library patrons, families and students with a massive amount of digital information and tools for learning. Students and educators can access informational articles, magazines, online books, scientific research, newspaper articles, data graphics, dynamic photos, interactive tools, videos and performances, educational guides and more — all aligned with California’s educational standards.

Easily Accessible. By laptop, tablet or phone — at school, at the library or at home — students are able to research, analyze and use information and media in a way that is self-directed and student-focused, developing both digital literacy and critical thinking skills. Teachers are better able to build content geared to the interests and needs of their students. Family members can use them, too. And all resources have been vetted for student-data privacy.

Widely Used. COMPASS was initially titled the “California K-12 Online Resources Program” when it first launched and has had more than 515 million unique investigations and searches between fall of 2018 and the end of 2023. Over 90% of California public schools and 95% of California public libraries are connected to the program to provide resources from Britannica, ProQuest, TeachingBooks, Gale, and Capstone’s PebbleGo Science.

Stay informed. Want to stay informed about these online resources? Our eNewsletter comes out twice a month. Join the State Library’s K-12 mailing list for K-12 education.

Discover Online Tutoring. Looking for more information on the statewide tutoring service for all Californians, made available through local libraries by the State Library? Go to our HelpNow informational page and click on the box below the picture that says “Get Started with a Live Tutoring Session.”

About Online School-Library Media and Resources

Online content resources and tools available through libraries — sometimes called “online library databases” — have been available for decades. Research institutions such as universities were the first educational entities to broadly use digital database format for articles and news. Public and school libraries followed suit in more recent years. Today’s library resources have expanded to include multimedia, online tools, streaming video, digital books, and interactive programming in addition to research and educational content.

The purpose of COMPASS from the California State Library is to provide these supplemental resources to all K-12 public school students, both in the classroom and after school. The program launched in June 2017 when state educational funds were provided to the Riverside County Office of Education in partnership with the State Library. After a competitive contracting process, three providers representing over a dozen online platforms were selected by a team of experts and announced in April 2018: ProQuest, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and TeachingBooks.

Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded COMPASS in June 2020 to include resources directed at the STEAM subjects of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Three additional platforms from Gale were added in December 2021 after a competitive process. The PBS Video Collection from ProQuest was added in Summer 2022. The expansive performing arts collections from ProQuest’s Alexander Street platform was included for the start of the school year in Fall 2023. And in January 2024 the State Library added a STEM resource for our youngest learners – PebbleGo Science from Capstone.

COMPASS is funded through public education dollars and all school districts and charter schools may incorporate access to these resources into their learning platforms. California local public libraries may also add access to almost all the COMPASS resources for their patrons. Some providers have voluntarily made certain resources available to independent schools directly.

Funding is available for this project annually on an ongoing basis. The State Library and the Riverside Office of Education periodically review and potentially revise the program to better meet the needs of educators, school librarians, students and families.

Why Use COMPASS?

Many students (and adults!) assume that resources found on the internet are fine for classwork. And sometimes they are. But sometimes they aren’t.

Traditional library databases and tools that are part of COMPASS, on the other hand, are indexed collections of magazines, journals, newspaper articles, abstracts, and other information. Sometimes the content is crafted by expert editors from the database providers. Other resources consist of content from various publishers — from newspapers to academic journals — that’s been checked for accuracy and then licensed for the resource. With digital advancements, these resources now include interactive activities, dynamic data, streaming video, and more sophisticated learning tools. Today’s school and public libraries strive to include these resources as a supplement to curricula. The resources can assist students and educators with research and student-directed projects. They can be utilized by educators to design learning experiences for their students that accommodate individual learning differences, cultural backgrounds, varying interests, and deeper learning.

And the resources can support learning in other ways that utilize technology for access: direct language translation, closed caption for videos, citation builders, audio readers, mapping tools, interviews with authors and experts, and other components to augment the learner’s experience. Parents can use them to assist their children with homework, too. Much of what’s included in the COMPASS resources isn’t found on the open web and is only available by subscription. Other websites may not be student-data compliant. COMPASS provides access for all of California through safe online resources, ensuring equitable access while utilizing economies of scale to wisely spend state dollars.

By laptop, tablet, or phone — at school, at the library or at home — students can research, analyze and use information and media in a way that is self-directed and student-focused, developing both digital literacy and critical thinking skills with these K-12 library resources from COMPASS.

How Institutions Get Access & Student Data Privacy

Districts, charter schools, local libraries* and independent schools* can include access to the resources in their learning or library management systems.

To get set up, the technical and program leads for the institutions fill out a form hosted by TeachingBooks. The information is automatically shared with the other providers, and each provider sends welcome letters with instructions for institution setup. This form can also be utilized for updates such as new contact staff, a change in IP address or single-sign-on systems, etc.

Sign Up Form

The providers have signed Student Data Privacy Agreements in line with current California law, with the agreements applied for all of California. These agreements have been reviewed by the California Student Privacy Alliance and listed under the Riverside County Office of Education, the partner with the California State Library for COMPASS.

The scope of the agreements is for all of California. Individual institutions (districts, charters, libraries, etc.) do not need duplicate student data privacy agreements with the COMPASS providers for the resources provided by the program.

* Britannica, TeachingBooks, and Gale have voluntarily made their resources directly available to independent schools. Capstone, provider of PebbleGo Science, may consider requests from independent schools as well. ProQuest’s academic database Central Student and the PBS Video Collection from ProQuest are only available to local education agencies (public school districts and charters). The dozen other ProQuest resources (CultureGrams, eLibrary, the Alexander Street collections, etc.) are available to local libraries where students and educators from independent schools can access them. The Black Freedom Struggle resource from ProQuest is open access for all.

Tech Talk: Setup in SSO and Web Code Template

So now that the resources are provided by COMPASS, exactly where should school districts, charters, schools and libraries host the resources to provide them to students and educators, particularly within single-sign-on systems? Currently the answer to that question is at the discretion of each institution and its educational technology and internet technology (IT) departments. They can be grouped together or segmented based on the needs of each institution.

Authentication

All providers have automatic authentication for on-campus or physical library location use if the institution has provided IP address information to the State Library through the main State Library access form (hosted by TeachingBooks). If users are at a school or library location and are not authenticated automatically, please coordinate with institution IT staff to notify the State Library at K12.Resources@library.ca.gov.

For off-campus or outside-library usage, establishing authentication differs by provider. Some provide access to any IP address within California. Others require authentication integration with single sign on systems (SSOs) like Clever, Google, and Classlink that need to be established by the IT department or lead technician. For institutions without SSO infrastructure, authentication can be by InstitutionName/InstitutionPasscode. Students and teachers should first check with their own school library, educational technology, or IT departments for authentication issues.

Welcome Letters

The welcome letters from each provider give IT departments and program leads information about setup and access. If you are a the ed tech or IT contact for your institution and you need to see the providers’ instructions, or you’re a new staff member and never saw the original welcome letters, please feel free to submit the Tech Setup Form form again. You only need to include new technical information or just contact email address, if desired.

Resource Provider Help Desks

If you need further assistance with one or more of the providers’ resources and setup, or have questions regarding usage data, please utilize their technical staff for assistance. They are happy to help! Links and information are provided with the graphic icons from the providers.

Web Code Template

Sometimes creating a place for these resources on an institution’s website can be a challenge. The team of providers under TeachingBooks’ lead have also provided handy HTML templates with web code that can be integrated into websites to help. Utilize the webpage building tools hosted by TeachingBooks for HTML code for your district’s, school’s, or library’s website.

Check Back for Updates

Please note that these templates may not include all resources, especially those recently added. We will be updating these templates, other technical information, and COMPASS tools on an ongoing basis. Email K12.Resources@library.ca.gov with questions or for help.

About the Content Providers

The online content providers have multiple resources available. As a collection, these resources can be used for students as young as kindergarten and as advanced as college-level high school seniors. The State Library has a two-page flyer with all available COMPASS resources listed that can be utilized by schools.

TeachingBooks

TeachingBooks features a suite of instructional resources that enrich the fiction and nonfiction books read by children and young adults. TeachingBooks for Libraries is a view of the TeachingBooks platform designed for public libraries, and prior to 2024 may have been known by the name BookConnections.

Features include:

Live phone support is available Monday-Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST at (866) 269-5794. Technical and customer support can be provided by emailing hello@teachingbook.net. Customer support can be requested through the online form.

Gale

Gale, part of Cengage Group, provides original and curated content as well as modern research tools and technology. Gale’s STEAM resources available for this project include:

Information for California’s schools and libraries may be found on the specialized California K-12 page from Gale. For quick support, call 1-800-877-4253 or email gale.technicalsupport@cengage.com.

PebbleGo Science by Capstone

PebbleGo Science is a curricular content hub specifically designed for K-2 students and is one of the resources from Capstone, a children’s publisher and interactive content producer rooted in education.

PebbleGo Science is packed with informational articles, ready-made activities, and literacy supports for students of all abilities. It boosts engagement and fosters independent learning in science, math, technology and engineering (STEM) concepts. Content is available in English and in Spanish (PebbleGo Ciencia). Also included are 50 Capstone Interactive eBooks on science and STEM subjects in English and Spanish.

Need help from Capstone setting up PebbleGo Science? See the Capstone support page or call 1-800-747-4992. Districts and libraries can email support@capstonepub.com for assistance as well.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Encyclopaedia Britannica is the publisher known for the classic reference compendium of summary informational articles on a wide range of subjects. A school-age version of the encyclopedia launched in the 1940s, with online school versions launching in 2004. The online offerings are crafted by research experts and updated continuously with more than 1,000 new articles per month.

There are two main Britannica products offered to K-12 students:

  • Britannica School: This online library database from Britannica is aimed at the digital classroom. The entries are in English and specially designed at different reading levels, allowing students to move easily to material of higher or lower comprehension levels as needed for K-6, middle school and high school: Levels 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Britannica School offers an automated translation tool for over 50 languages, as well as quick dictionary definitions and audio pronunciation — helpful for English language learners.
  • Britannica Escolar: Britannica Escolar provides similar content as Britannica School for K-6 and middle school in Spanish. Escolar articles are original works, not translations.

Technical and customer support for Britannica is available from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. PST Monday-Friday by calling 1-800-621-3900 or by emailing edsupport@eb.com. Britannica also has an informational page for California with links to training videos, direct links to the resources, and other information.

ProQuest by Clarivate

ProQuest curates six centuries of content — the world’s largest collection of journals, eBooks, primary sources, dissertations, news, and video — and builds powerful workflow solutions to help libraries acquire and grow collections. ProQuest became part of the Clarivate company in 2021. California schools and libraries can provide access to many separate ProQuest resources for research, critical thinking, and the arts. Full list is below.

Technical Assistance

ProQuest has a technical support page for COMPASS or a tech support ticket may be submitted directly. For training, product, or educator support, please email training@proquest.com. Other contact information is available on the technical support page as well.This library guide (“LibGuide”) can guide librarians, technical staff, and users to additional helpful content.

ProQuest Homework Central

California K-12 students and educators have access to many ProQuest products and collections. These can be added separately to single-sign-on systems, or districts may provide ProQuest’s Homework Central interface for students and educators to access all resources through one interface.

Included Products and Collections

  • PBS Video Collection, 4th Edition: This collection of more than 1,600 streaming videos on the Alexander Street platform provides an exceptional range of content with the most valuable video documentaries and series from PBS. Science to history, art to Shakespeare, diversity to business & economics, and more is available for students. (Public schools only)
  • CultureGrams: Concise cultural information on countries around the world. This resource provides country reports that include basic information as well as perspectives on daily life and culture, including background, customs and lifestyles of the world’s peoples. (Public schools and local libraries)
  • eLibrary: General reference aggregation of periodical and digital media content with editorial guidance for novice researchers to help them choose research topics and find authoritative information to support research claims. (Public schools and local libraries)
  • SIRS Discoverer: Selected content for beginning researchers, especially elementary and middle school students and educators. Helpful for elementary and middle school educators and students for reliable age-appropriate content for classwork, homework, and research assignments. (Public schools and local libraries)
  • SIRS Issues Researcher: Examining over 360 complex issues, SIRS Issues Researcher is a curriculum-aligned database of content geared to middle and high school students and educators, with a focus on current and relevant analysis of today’s most important controversial issues. (Public schools and local libraries)
  • Research Companion: Information literacy is a key component of the education process today. Research Companion tools and tutorials help guide students through the research process, helping develop critical thinking and information literacy skills. (Public schools and local libraries)
  • School & Educators Complete (aka eBooks by ProQuest): This eBook subscription database of over 12,000 titles allows school libraries to grow by expanding their catalog of electronic books. Access to full-text electronic books supports learning in multiple subject areas — from science to social studies — as well as aligning with educational standards. Access through the ProQuest Platform and select “books.” (Public schools and local libraries)
  • ProQuest Central Student: This database of millions of articles from more than 10,000 full-text scholarly journals provides information on science, technology, education, social sciences, humanities and news. Access through the ProQuest Platform. (Public schools only)

The Alexander Street platform by ProQuest provides streaming video, audio, and text in the performing arts of music, dance, and theatre. COMPASS added multiple Alexander Street collections in Fall 2023 for all public districts, charter schools, and local libraries.

Audio Collections
  • Audio Drama: The L.A. Theatre Works Collection contains over 430 nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century plays performed by leading actors from around the world, recorded specifically for online listening.
  • Music Online: Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries provides a virtual encyclopedia of unique American folk, blues, soul, jazz, and protest songs, as well as a broad range of world music through partnership with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
Video Collections
  • Music Online: The Quest TV Collection, co-created by Quincy Jones & Reza Ackbaraly, offers valuable materials for music history and cultural studies through the preservation of diverse live performances, representing jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop, folk, indie, electronic, blues, and other eclectic world genres.
  • Dance Online: Dance in Video is a collection of performances, instructional materials, documentaries and interviews showcasing high-caliber performances from dance companies and performers worldwide, including traditional ballet to hip hop, street dance, and modern dance.
  • Broadway On Demand includes plays, musicals, and dance performances along with behind-the-scenes series, documentaries, instructional videos, and more.
  • National Theatre Collection provides contemporary video productions and modern reinterpretations of classic plays — all featuring acclaimed actors and directors along with behind-the-scenes archival content.
  • The Royal Shakespeare Company Collection contains high-definition recordings of top Shakespearean actors and directors, along with supplementary teaching materials designed to help bring Shakespeare to life in the modern age.
  • Theatre in Video offers access to hundreds of significant plays, documentaries and instructional materials, as well as interviews with prominent directors, designers, writers and actors, providing an authentic behind-the-scenes look at various productions.
  • Classical Music in Video provides influential performances and documentaries demonstrating the development of classical music, spanning eras from past masters to modern composers.
  • Opera in Video offers a wide curated selection of opera performances featuring top artists, conductors, and venues.
  • Additional resource: The Black Freedom Struggle resource features select primary source documents related to critical people and events in African American history, compiled by academic experts.

Calendar of Upcoming Trainings

The content providers and State Library staff offer free online webinars, in-person training opportunities, and sessions at meetings and conferences throughout the state. See the following calendar of upcoming sessions below and learn more about our expert trainers.

Webinar Recordings

Many of the webinars have been recorded for ongoing learning. For recordings of recent training sessions, peruse the recordings listed below.

Articles About COMPASS and school libraries

The State Library shares important articles and websites on related subjects, as well as publishing articles and reports directly related to COMPASS (aka the K-12 Online Resources program).

The following list includes articles that related to school libraries.

More Library Database Offerings

There are other online resources that are open source and can be used by students and educators in much the same way as the library databases provided through COMPASS. Your local library may subscribe to additional subscription resources as well. Librarians are happy to help with guidance, so visit your public library today and get a library card!

(Open educational resources list coming soon)

Frequently Asked Questions

Please see the frequently asked questions about the COMPASS resources. If your question is not answered or you have a suggestion to add to our FAQ, please email K12.Resources@library.ca.gov.

eNewsletter Archive

COMPASS publishes a regular newsletter for educators, librarians, administrators and families. Archived issues are below.

Contact

General questions, help desk issues, training requests and other questions about COMPASS (previously known as the K-12 Online Resources Program) and other online library resources can be addressed by emailing the COMPASS staff directly at K12.Resources@library.ca.gov or directly contact our staff.

Mary Beth Barber
(916) 894-6561
marybeth.barber@library.ca.gov

Megan Segle
(279) 399-8989
megan.segle@library.ca.gov

COMPASS Digital Resources

These resources are available for public schools and libraries. While some resources have direct links below, PebbleGo Science and ProQuest resources may need to be set up for authentication within educational or library online systems.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (PreK-12)

  • Britannica School
  • Britannica Escolar

Need help from Britannica? See the Britannica support page. (800) 621-3900 x 7160 | edsupport@eb.com


Capstone PebbleGo Science (PreK-2)

Need help from Capstone? See the Capstone support page. (800) 747-4992 | support@capstonepub.com


Gale (K-12)

  • Gale In Context: Environmental Studies
  • Gale Interactive: Science
  • National Geographic Kids

Need help from Gale? See the Gale support page. (800) 877-4253 ext. 72971 | gale.technicalsupport@cengage.com


TeachingBooks.net (PreK-12)

  • Teachingbooks for Schools
  • Teachingbooks for Libraries

Need help from TeachingBooks.net? See the TeachingBooks.net support page. (866) 269-5794 | accounts@TeachingBooks.net


ProQuest (Grades 3-12)

ProQuest PBS and Central Student collections are available only to local education agencies. ProQuest does not use all-California IP authentication, so districts and libraries should set up authentication. School districts may want to work with ProQuest customer service to set up the Homework Central interface to connect users to all available ProQuest resources from one access point.

Need help from ProQuest? See the ProQuest support page, the ProQuest library guide with training and information, the ProQuest audio video resources support page, or submit a ticket to ProQuest. (800) 521-0600 ext. 72971 | customerservice@proquest.com