Resources for English Students: Reading, Writing, and Speaking Skills

In the comments of a local online newspaper, it’s common to find some out-of-touch fellow lamenting that “people don’t communicate anymore,” or “people don’t sit down and read like they used to.”


Maybe people don’t read like they used to, but they certainly don’t read any less. If anything, people may read and write even more now than they did 50 years ago. The major difference is the length and depth of that reading and writing.

Over the past few years, cognitive scientists, such as Maryanne Wolf from Tufts University, have reported that our brains absorb information from a screen differently than we absorb information from paper, and spending so much time on screens may be hurting our ability to practice deep and immersive reading. It is during immersive reading that our reading comprehension is at its peak. In other words, screen time won’t make you stupid, but too much of it may be bad for your command of language and communication. If you’re a student, this is a major concern, since communication is the crux of education.

At Scott Community College, we know how challenging it can be for students to find time to practice the skills needed to succeed in college classes, so the Belmont campus library makes it a priority to assist students with reading and writing skills and practice. See below for a list of some of our available resources, or stop on in and visit us. We even offer workshops and tutoring.

Traditional Media

To check out any of our available media, all you need is a library card from ANY RiverShare library (such as Davenport Public, Bettendorf Public, etc.). Don’t have a library card? No problem. We can make you one in less than ten minutes.

Print Books

Our in-house selection of books that cover reading, writing, and rhetoric alone is way too large to list here, and our shared catalog is even larger. We’ve composted a partial list, however, which you can download as a PDF or Excel spreadsheet.


The best way to learn to write is to read good writing, and when it comes to good writing, there is no wrong way to consume it. We subscribe to several publications that publish the very best writing in a variety of topics and genres.

Writers dream of being published in The New Yorker like comedians dream of hosting SNL. It’s one of the best sources to find new, up-and-coming voices as well as works by veteran writers. They also feature book reviews and recommended reading lists.

Rolling Stone always features in-depth cover stories and news articles. Plus, everyone likes music (except people who suffer from melophobia), so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something you like in any given issue.

The Atlantic is another publication known for great writing, and it covers a number of topics from business and politics to art and culture.

Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, ArtNEWS, Consumer Reports, Motor Trend, Technology Review… whatever you’re interested in, see what’s new and what other people want to read about that topic. You may just find your next research paper topic.

BONUS! Scott Community College has its very own literary publication: Inkwell. Check out past issues and then prepare your own material for submission! Contact Dr. Amy Foley in the English department to ask questions or submit works – afoley [at] eicc [dot] edu.


Our in-house DVD collection contains over 400 titles and is always growing. Classics like The Maltese FalconFargo, and The Thing offer examples of exceptional screenwriting and storytelling. A list of non-fiction and documentary films is available as a PDF or Excel spreadsheet.

Electronic Resources

Most of these resources are subscription only, meaning they are only accessible to current students. A few are available to members of RiverShare libraries (a consortium that includes the Scott Community College Library), meaning you may continue to use them as long as you have a public library card. To access electronic resources, first log in to EICConnect. Then, under the left-hand side Menu, click on Library and select Electronic Resources.

Coursework Help and Practice

Learning Express Library learning_express_library

This digital learning assistant is composed of multiple “centers.” The College Center is your best bet, with its subsections on reading and writing. Spend just 20 minutes each day using their eBooks and practice sets, and over time you’ll notice a marked improvement.

It takes less than a minute to register. In addition to the College Center, registration also gives you access to The Career Center, Adult Learning Center, Computer Skills Center, and more. Each center features video and/or walk-through tutorials, practice sets, test prep, and eBooks. View our post about Learning Express Library to find out more.

ProQuest Research Companion proquest

Maybe it’s been a while since you did research. ProQuest’s Research Companion offers helpful tips and tricks on how to get started, how to identify useful resources, and how to make use of the information you find in a paper or speech. Create an account to use their video-based learning modules. They’re great practice and supplement what you learn in class from your instructors.

eBooks and Digital Magazines

EBSCO Mobile ebscoebooksma_logo

EBSCO is one of our favorite electronic resources, and its mobile app includes hundreds of eBooks devoted to the sciences. Search by author, title, or subject or just browse the 500+ titles listed under “Literature and Criticism.”


Click “Search Options” to search by different categories.

eBooks are great because you can browse the catalog AND check out your selections without ever leaving your couch! Plus, you can read them on any mobile device. Stuck in line at the pharmacy? Pull out your phone and read a couple of chapters about literary criticism on the short works of Anton Chekhov. Learn more about EBSCO and its databases later in this post, or go ahead and check out our overview of how to use the databases.

Flipster flipster_logo

Through EBSCO, you also have access to Flipster and its mobile app. While this isn’t a good source for academic journals (we’ll go over those below), it does offer such quality publications as Vanity Fair and Elephant, as well as trade and craft magazines such as Poets and Writers and Writer. Need a break? Check out mental_floss or Urbis. There’s something for everyone on Flipster.

RiverShare eBooks, eBooks and Audio eicc-college-libraries

These eBooks and audio books are available to anyone holding a RiverShare library card. We love audio books because it’s the best way to “read” on your commute. With over 1,000 related titles to choose from, you won’t mind being trapped in a seat between a whiny kid and a guy playing his favorite Mariah Carey album at full blast.

Research Databases

If you take English classes at Scott, you’re definitely going to have to know how to research. There’s no getting around it. The good news is that knowing how to find information is a skill that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. People base entire careers on their ability to quickly locate accurate data, and knowing how to spot false information can literally save your life.



Learn to use our electronic databases and gain access to thousands upon thousands of reliable and peer-reviewed resources.

Credo credo-reference-cors-2014-purple-hor

This database is a great starting point when you’re writing a paper or speech, especially when it comes to narrowing your topic or thesis. Similar to an encyclopedia or a more reliable version of Wikipedia, it’s also a good starting point for people who aren’t yet comfortable using electronic databases. Our post on how to use Credo goes into further detail about its features, such as its lists of related books and its exclusive Mind Map.

EBSCO ebsco-logo2

We’ve already mentioned EBSCO Mobile, where you can find hundreds of eBooks, fiction and non-fiction. The EBSCO research databases are chock full of peer-reviewed journals that you won’t find on Google. We’ve adjusted the settings so your search automatically returns full-text articles. If you can’t find the material you need, uncheck the box for Full Text. Some of the partial articles you find may be available through interlibrary loan (ask the library staff for more information if you are unfamiliar with ILL).

To learn more about how to use EBSCO, view our previous post on the topic.

Academic OneFile academiconefile

This is another easy-to-use databases with plenty of features for exploring related topics or narrowing your thesis. Our previous post about this database goes into extensive detail about its Topic Finder – but it just barely touches on the 80 million available articles from popular as well as peer reviewed publications.

Opposing Viewpoints opposingviewpointscontext

Need to write a persuasive essay or research paper? Opposing Viewpoints – and its sibling database, CQ Researcher, which we’ll discuss more in a minute – is your digital Mecca. This aggregator collects arguments, pro and con, on every topic imaginable. Every controversial issue is here, and the more controversial it is, the more material Opposing Viewpoints has to collect. Read our post on how to use Opposing Viewpoints.

CQ Researcher cq-research-logo

CQ Researcher is like a jacked version of Opposing Viewpoints. Each topic section includes in-depth articles, further academic reading, and exclusive pro-con argument, and more. If you really want to do some serious research about your topic, this database is not only a great resource itself, it’s also a resource for finding still more awesome resources! Its interface is exactly like Opposing Viewpoints’ so if you’re familiar with that one, you already know how to use CQ Researcher. Click here to learn more.

Films on Demand filmsondemand

No one knows better than students how tiresome reading can become – even if you love it! Your eyes get tired and you lose the ability to focus on the text, your brain turns to mush, and all you can think about is the series finale of Golden Girls and how unlikely it was for Dorothy to marry Blanche’s uncle. Luckily for you, there are over 1,000 titles related to English studies, including American Literature, Speech & Communication, World Literature, and Elements of Language. Read more about this database and then check it out for yourself!


Campus computers offer special software designed to help you write your papers. Read&Write Gold offers features and tips to help you write and edit your papers. There’s even a read-aloud option, where the computer will read your paper to you to help you isolate any grammatical or style issues. A pair of your own ear buds should plug into our computers, but we also have headphones available for in-house use.

In addition to specialty software, we have a writing tutor available four days per week, and our staff is always happy to help you with your research and citations. Don’t forget to stop by one of our citation workshops for more help!




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