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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.

Providing Information to Library Users

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, January 08, 2006

Legal forms have become one of the most requested items that libraries provide to the public. In recent years, the need for various forms has grown to the point that most libraries have binders of a master copy of some forms from which copies can be made.

Libraries are known as the depository for federal and state tax forms.  With more people doing e-filing, you would assume that we distribute fewer federal income tax forms, but that isn't the case to date.

Our library system has purchased a new online source of forms, called the Thomson Gale Legal Forms database. Thousands of legal forms are now available online, with new forms added daily. The forms fit several categories of subjects.

General Business Forms are usable in all 50 states with little modification.

General Litigation Forms cover various litigations and apply to diverse causes of action.

State Specific Forms apply to our State of Ohio and forms specific to our state.

Federal Forms are business and litigation forms used in the federal system.

In addition, the Thomson Gale database has basic or standard forms that can be used in the categories of real estate, leases, corporations, employment, wills, and sale of property. General business forms can be adapted to your needs and use.

The Thomson Gale database can be used at any of our libraries, or is available online through the library web page using your library card to access the account. Whoever would ever have thought 20 years ago that your library card would be the access point to a vast quantity of information accessible from home?

Another popular item is the statewide online reference service called, KnowItNow 24 x 7. Operated by the Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Library System, and the NOLA Regional Library System, this shared reference service has been operating for more than a year providing Ohio residents with online reference service. It can also be accessed from our library web page and can also be used from your home computer. Questions that are specific to our library system will be bounced back to us for answering.

The enormous database provided by OPLIN (Ohio Public Library Information Network) can be accessed from our web page as well. OneSearch connects to all of the different databases, or you can select a specific database to search.  The subjects are endless, and access everything from newspapers to magazines to journals.

Our own Digital Shoebox is available online and now has more than 36,000 pages of digitized local history information with keyword searching.

Some days I wonder if there are still books on the shelves of our libraries. The fact is, there are still books and lots of people still check them out! The basic reason for libraries has not changed since Benjamin Franklin helped start the first public library, to provide information to its users. All that has changed is the new information tools that we use.