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Overall Review of Subscription Databases and Library Websites May 14, 2009

Posted by swegene1 in Databases, Final Project.
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Taken as a whole these four library systems offer a huge amount of information online through their Subscription Databases, but on an individual level the amount of assistance they offer for users wanting to utilize these tools through their webpages varies enormously. Certainly, individual database services have their own tutorials and instructions that can help users, but libraries provide important services when they help users understand why they would want to go to a database, what formats and types of information they can get from them, and which one is the best one for them. Some of the libraries’ websites I reviewed are stronger at answering some of these questions then others.

As with the OPACs, many libraries invest much of their efforts into in person training to use their databases, or consider the databases more of a tool to assist users then for them to use on their own. Unlike the OPACs, however, many users are simply not aware what is available through these resources, which makes users less likely to persist in trying to use them. When an OPAC has no instruction or guidance, users will keep trying to look for a book they know is in the system. If users had any idea what types of information they could find in the databases they might be more compelled try to use them. This is particularly true when it comes to youth, who could use many of the resources for their homework, but don’t have a good understanding of the difference between what they could find in the databases and on the Internet.

Unlike the struggles to integrate instruction into the OPAC, this issue is much easier for libraries to resolve. They need to alter their descriptions of databases, in order to promote them more clearly to those who could use them for their information needs. These explanations need to be easy to find and easy to follow, something that can attract youth to the databases, answering the three basic questions, why they should use the databases, what they will get from the databases, and how to use them! Creating a visual guide to the databases will make them more attractive to youth, and make them more likely to use them.

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