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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 Largest Collection of the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 22, 2015


The largest collection of items and materials provided by your Library System is floating around in mid-air; “in the Cloud” as the techies would say.


Our Library Website at contains a link to “E-Resources” which is the shelf of library materials sitting and waiting for you to access from your home or office computer, or whatever device you happen to use.


On the opening page, there is a rectangular box labeled “Ohio Web Library” which is the Google search for the Library System.


Actually, it is far more sophisticated that Google as it connects to the millions and millions of pages of data assembled by the Ohio Public Library Information Network and Ohio’s 251 Public Library Districts.


A brief description accompanies each entry, with some connected to a PDF file of the actual document.


As an example, I entered “Birdhouses” in Ohio Web Library and linked to over 200 entries, entered in the order of importance to my search.


The entries included birdhouses that a retired architect had designed, as well as easy-to-construct birdhouses for your backyard.  Books in library collections with patterns and plans for birdhouses were listed.


Unique birdhouses were covered in a magazine article linked to the Ohio Web Library.


Another option is to use the drop-down menu that provides a list of over 30 databases that are provided to Ohio Public Libraries or are under contact to your local Library System.


Old favorites like “What Tree Is It?” and “What’s that Snake?” which were developed in Ohio and now used worldwide provide student support for leaf identification and snake projects.


The huge EBSCO database contains magazine article and journal entries for several years, and has replaced the old days when libraries maintained enormous back files of magazines for research. 


Two different auto repair manuals replace those big paper volumes covered with oily fingerprints, and have the advantage of providing only the specific page of information rather than 600 pages of everything about repairing a 1995 Buick.


Well-known sources such as the Oxford series of reference books and consumer health information are part of our database.


Several sources specific to children are in the mix, culminated with an online World Book Encyclopedia.


Specific topics are covered by art collections and literary databases, as well as business information and journals.


Being an Ohio product, many sources such as the Ohio Memory Project provide state information to the public.


These are the information tools of today and tomorrow for libraries.  They are actually serving as a portal to the vast array of information available today.


I know that the perception is that all this “stuff” on the Internet is free and available at the keyboard of a computer, but that isn’t realistic.


Every day, we have people come to the library as a result of an Internet search ---- they work for some time online and find nothing and end up at the library.


Sometimes the library can use our skills to narrow the search, sometimes we contact the State Library for extended resources, or use software available to us to isolate the specific information or item being sought.


And all of this requires that Library Card issued by your local Library System to open the doors to this vast array of online information.


That’s the same Library Card that you were issued in the 2nd grade when your parents brought you to the library.