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Subscription Databases Upper Arlington Public Library May 14, 2009

Posted by swegene1 in Databases, Final Project, Upper Arlington Public Library.
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The Upper Arlington Public Library has the simplest interface to connect users to their databases. They have all of the resources listed on one page titled Reference Databases & eBooks. Whether or not this actually increases the accesibility of the databases is another question, and is one which I will explore as I look for the answers to these questions: 

  • What pathways are available for accessing the databases?
  • What type of assistance is available to explain or guide the use of the databases?
  • What explanations/tools are available to determine which database to use, particularly for those looking for materials for Children?

Pathways for Accessing Databases:

As earlier noted, UAPL has the simplest interface for accessing their subscription databases. Primarily this is limited to their Reference Databases & eBook page, though there are links to this page from other pages. There are a few exceptions. One is a rotating featured database on the front page of their website, which is changed periodically to showcase some of the resources they provide. Another exception is the Readers’ Zone, which features resources such as links to eBooks and a link to the full Reference Database page. Beyond these few locations, access to subscription databases is channeled through the one main page.

 

On this main page, users are able to narrow down the 119 listed databases (and yes I counted, and though some are duplicates of one service, there are that many entries) into categories by topic. There are 14 different topic areas, ranging from “Biography & History” to “Health and Medicine.” Databases are frequently represented in more then one area, as they might help with more then one topic area. The descriptions for the databases all are the same in each list, just the groupings are different.

 

Assistance in Using the Databases:

The two sources of assistance for users who want to use the databases are the descriptions given of what is in each and the lists of databases around specific topics. Once a user clicks on a database, it does prompt them to put their library card number in to authenticate them. Beyond these two tools, there is no assistance offered by UAPL to use their databases on their website.

 

Database Choice—Descriptions and Age Appropriateness:

While the list does contain some information about reading levels, the descriptions seem to contain pretty standard wording, some of which is more accessible then others. For instance the EBSCO Middle Search talks about the lexile levels of the articles, which is not something a lot of parents or kids are familiar with. While many of these databases are aimed at children, the descriptions really aren’t written towards them.

 

Like some of the other libraries, one of the ways that UAPL showcases the databases appropriate for youth is by listing out different interfaces that are designed for them. Whereas some libraries just list EBSCO as one source, this library breaks it down into all of the different interfaces. They do this with all of their services, which makes it easier to find ways for different ages of users to find an interface that matches their needs.

 

An additional way that youth and parents can find resources for their kids, is through the list of homework databases.It doesn’t necessarily indicate what age of school kids, but it does narrow down the enormous list of resources to a more manageable level. There is also a list on “Education & Careers,” but it does not focus on youth.

 

Overall Review of Database Accessibility:

While UAPL does have some elements that make their databases accessible for children and youth, the sheer number of databases listed, along with the lack of direction for how to access them or why they should be used, makes it difficult for the website alone to draw users in. The site does have the advantage of being very simple, with all resources in one place. Perhaps it would be best improved with the addition of instructions on how to use the databases from home, and by improved descriptions of the databases they offer.

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