Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Library card offers free key to helpful, often costly databases

Library card offers free key to helpful, often costly databasesEdythe Jensen

The Arizona Republic

Dec. 3, 2007 12:00 AM

Library cards aren't just about borrowing books and movies anymore.
In Phoenix and its suburbs, they're free passes to growing numbers of costly subscription-only Internet databases with genealogy research and auto repair instructions, foreign languages courses and antique appraisals.

Maricopa County and Valley cities are spending more than $1.5 million a year to make this information free to cardholders. But librarians say they're having a hard time getting the word out and call the free access one of their best-kept secrets. ....'Different library sites use different terms and links. In Phoenix you have to click on a "research" icon. In Chandler, it's "information databases." On the Tempe library home page, a drop down menu under "search and find" requires a click on "electronic resources."

Then there's the sheer number and daunting content of the databases. A patron looking for Price It! Antiques and Collectibles must go through Gale Reference Center on the Phoenix site. END SNIP

This is the continuing ordeal of the public library. Database are wonderful resources, but we don't market them very well. As I have stated before, we cannot even decide on what to call them. Lastly, some of these databases are so ubiquitous that there is too much information in them. When I have been providing my slideshare tutorials, numbers have shot up. I have run the advertisements in the local paper as well as link to them on the website through a program called database of the week. There are so many separate services within just one database, to perform tutorial on them all would take years. Ebsco masterfile premier is great,but to get to consumer reports takes some digging. As a librarian, I take it upon myself to cut through the database to give the patrons what they want (like creating a tutorial just for consumer reports), but it isn't easy. More librarians need to provide these online tutorial to help patrons get access to databases and not become overwhelmed.

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