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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Online databases

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, June 29, 2014

Online databases and eResources are providing public libraries with new and exciting tools that we can use to provide information.

Databases have been providing information sources for many years, but their easier formats and friendly software are allowing the public use online from home and office.

eResources are giving libraries newly formatted tools that allow people to use them on their own, or allow librarians to provide the information upon request.

On the library website at www.steubenvillelibrary.org you can enter “E-Resources” on the banner line and open a page with a drop-down menu that lists all the resources that are available with your library card.

I cannot cover all of the online services available, but will highlight some that I think would be of interest to you.

WORLD BOOK ONLINE is the world’s most popular encyclopedia online, with versions for kids and adults; updated regularly rather than having to wait on the “next year’s new set.”  (The library also has WORLD BOOK in paper format!)

Auto repair manuals were always popular checkout items in a library collection, but most have ended paperbound editions.  They were replaced by two online databases, AUTO REPAIR REFERENCE CENTER and CHILTON ONLINE LIBRARY.  Chilton’s is constantly updated and allows the library card holder full access to their database, with the other providing vehicles not covered by the first.

THOMASNET is the online version of the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers and is available in addition to BUSINESS SOURCE PREMIER which has profiles, reports and market research.

Job research and resources are covered in three different online tools.

WORKFORCE SKILLS has preparation resources for what you need to do to succeed in the workplace, including improving computer skills and preparing for career testing.

JOB & CAREER ACCELERATOR allows you to create and save an online resume.  Searching for jobs and interviewing tips are part of the site.

LEARNING EXPRESS LIBRARY replaces all of those out-of-date testing books and allows online practice tests for ASVAB, SAT, ACT, PRAXIS and more.  It also contains civil service tests and well as tips for improving your testing skills.

The EBSCO Company provides a variety of databases relating to periodicals, magazines, and journals. 

ACADEMIC SEARCH PREMIER is a leading scholarly database leading to journals and magazines in a college/university environment.  MASTERFile Premier is a magazine database for the traditional consumer marketplace, and NEWSPAPER SOURCE uses newspapers as the source for its information.

The GALE OHIO LEGAL FORMS contains a massive file of legal forms that are used in various legal and court proceedings in Ohio.

Elementary age children will enjoy SEARCHASAURUS, a kid-friendly site that connects to kid resources.  STUDENT RESEARCH CENTER is geared for students in grades 6-12.

There are several sites specific to Ohio, including OHIO GOVERNMENT INFO, OHIO HISTORY CENTRAL, OHIO MEMORY SCRAPBOOK, and OHIOLINE NEWS.

A one-stop site is called OHIO WEB LIBRARY, which allows the user to access and search information in all OPLIN databases.

Yes, someone looking for information can simply go to the Internet and Google a topic, but these databases are edited and refined searches for information through sources refined by companies in the “information business.”

Remember, information on the Internet can be provided by anyone, anywhere; who may or may not have any background in the subject or topic.

In addition, many of these sources provide footnote and bibliographic information that identify the source for papers and documents.

Less than a generation has passed since librarians descended the steps into basement rooms full of old magazines and journals hunting for articles found in the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature.  I think online databases are a definite improvement!