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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.

The Reference Collection Online

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 15, 2015

My quote about public libraries today is that, “Libraries have the same purpose that they always had --- to provide information to the public.  What have changed are the tools that libraries have to find that information.”

 

Today, there are eBooks floating around in the electronic clouds, and data is recorded in computers.  Perhaps the biggest change currently underway in public libraries relates to what we call “The Reference Collection,” which was imposing multi-volumes of large books that contains data and information.

 

Typically, they were books that could not be checked out, and were used in the library for some statistic.

 

Now, a large number of those Reference Books have been converted into an online format, produced by a small number of companies that have emerged from the old days of scholarly reference materials produced in editing rooms.

 

Many of our reference books are now available online via our library web page at www.steubenvillelibrary.organd accessed with your library card.

 

On our web page, you go to “E-Resources” and select Resources which shows you several public sites including tax forms, voter information, elected officials, federal government information, and additional e-government resources.
 

Another area has “PLSJ Library Card Holders below” which has access to databases to which the library system subscribes.

 

“Flipster” is a new service that provides magazines online that people can download to their tablet devices, and read current issues electronically.

 

Some titles allow 1,000 people in Jefferson County to read the current issue of a particular magazine.

 

“Rosetta Stone” is another new service of an old familiar product, which allows library users to access this popular language leaning system.  Have your library card ready when you access either product from your home computer.

 

Also listed there are two genealogy products which cannot be used from home, as they must be accessed from one of the computers in the library building.  They include “Ancestry.com – Library Edition and Newspaper Archive.”

 

Three other online databases are available for home use at this location on the web page.  They contain literally millions of groupings of information!

 

“Contemporary Authors and the Literature Resource Center” is a product provided by Gale Research Service that contains all of the Gale product line, Charles Scribner’s Sons, St. James Press, and Twayne Publishers.

 

This enormous online file ranges from “American Writers – The Classics” to “British Writers” to three files of African-American Writers and criticism.

 

These files formerly were housed in 270 reference book series, and filled several ranges of library shelving in a Reference Collection.

 

Unlike the paper book series, the online version can be searched by not only author and title, but complex searches combining various aspects to pinpoint information.

 

The other online database available is titled “Biography in Context” and has thousands of biographies of famous people.

 

I researched Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson and found article and information from his days as a neurosurgeon, as well as recent materials related to his candidacy from newspapers, academic journals, and even audio materials.

 

Remember that in today’s world, when you think of your local public library system that includes all the online databases and information on the library website, which can come directly into your home computer.