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Promoting Subscription Databases May 15, 2009

Posted by swegene1 in Databases, Final Project, Instructional Technology.
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One of the biggest problems that libraries have with promoting access to their subscription databases is that individuals have no idea what is in the database, and why they would want to use them. One of the most obvious audiences for many of the databases are youth who have homework assignments, that they could use  information from the databases to complete. But many students think these subscription databases are just the same as the Internet. Showing students what they can find in the databases is the first step to getting them to figure out how to use them.

In createing a tool that would increase student’s motivations to use databases, I wanted to focus less on how to use the tools, and more on what students would find in databases and why they would want to use them. To that end, I selected four databases aimed at students from 4-12 grades, and created a slide show that showcases the types of information these databases produce. Like an advertisement, this slide show is designed to entice students into wanting to learn more, and not to fully explain every step.

I took the slide show I made in Power Point, and hosted it at SlideShare. SlideShare is a free service that takes slide shows created using various software tools, and hosts them. This allows people to view them who do not have the software that the presentation was created with, as well as creating an embeddable file that can be displayed on a webpage for users to view without moving to a new page.

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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.

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.

Subscription Databases Columbus Metropolitian Library May 13, 2009

Posted by swegene1 in Columbus Metropolitan Library, Databases, Final Project.
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Like the first two libraries I reviewed, the Columbus Metropolitan Library offers many ways for their users to access the databases they provide. Just as CML shares many of the same databases with the other library systems I am reviewing, they also share similar types of pathways to these databases. For this review, as in the others, I will be asking the same three 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:

 From the main CML homepage there are two primary access points to the subscription databases they provide, first a quick search box and second a link to their databases listed under “Reference.”The quick search box is virtually identical to that search tool provided by the Salt Lake County Library system. Once users have established proxy access to the catalog through putting in their library card number and pin number, users can search many databases at once as well as searching the catalog. This search box appears on the front page of the website, and on the sidebar of the webpage on most pages, but is not heavily promoted elsewhere in the library, either by employees such as myself or by instructions on how to search databases.

The primary tool for accessing the databases at CML is the main reference page. It contains various sections, some of which overlap. The first section of the page entitled “Premium Resources” focuses just on those subscription resources. It provides a drop down menu listing all subscription databases by name and then by subject area groupings, as well as a list of databases with descriptions of their content. There is also a link to a list of electronic journals that are accessible from various subscriptions.

The next major section combines subscription databases with other resources on subject specific pages that they created. These pages bring together suggested books, websites, and subscription databases. The first section features the “Popular Topics” which have substantially more information directing people towards the information they might need. Rather then focusing on usability issues, these pages focus on directing users to information resources for specific needs. 

On the sidebar of this page, the library has a rotating display of three “Featured Resources.” One is usually a subscription database–such as World Book Online, another is a link to a resource page–such as the Ready to Readpage, and the last is a link to a database that CML runs, such as their Columbus (Ohio) News Index Obituary Search. These change periodically to feature different resources, so are not a reliable pathway to any given resource.

Another location for users to access subscription databases is through the Teen’s and Kid’shomework pages. These pages contain some lists of web sites and subscription databases broken down by topic area and rough age group. The Kid’s page also has links to the TumbleBooks, which is a subscription database that allows users to read full texts of books and play educational games. 

Assistance in Using the Databases:

One of the main ways that CML attempts to help users with their databases is through helping them select which one best matches their information need. This is done through the subject specific pages on the main reference page. Users are pointed to those databases that have specific information that matches their needs. However, there is less attention paid to how to actually navigate either their general search tool, or the specific databases they subscribe to. In part this might be because with so many databases it can be overwhelming to try to illustrate how to use all of them.

As part of CML’s attempts to focus on subject specific information rather then focusing on specific tools, they do offer tutorials and FAQs to answer general questions. These are located on the sidebar in drop down menus, and cover both information on how to find materials using databases and the physical library. The answers to frequently asked questions deal with such issues as:  “How to find an article,”  “How to research a topic,” and “How do I download digital books.”  These are very short answers, providing more information then instruction, for instance they answer the question of “What are Premium Resources?” like this

The Premium Resources are online reference sites that the library subscribes to for customers to use both in the library and at home. Databases range in subject area from literature to magazine indexes to encyclopedic entries. They can be accessed with your library card number and PIN. Some databases can only be accessed from within our locations.

While it does let users know they need a library card number and pin, it does not actually provide any assistance beyond that.  In addition to these FAQ, they also offer some simple tutorials. Like the FAQs and the reference page, these are designed to show how to use ALL the resources, including the online databases, to find information. The tutorials cover such topics as Family History, researching an artist or antique, as well as various business topics.

Database Choice—Descriptions and Age Appropriateness:

Interestingly, while CML’s databases tend to be organized around helping users find those that will best answer their information needs, they don’t have a lot of information about sources for students or age levels. While they have a list of premium resources for Homework Help, it is not promoted, and is not linked from either of the pages.

The two homework pages in the kids and teens areas have a few subscription databases represented, a small number from the total group. On the kids’ homework page, there are three subscription databases mentioned: Litfinder, Culture Grams, and the World Book Encyclopedia for kids. Perhaps these are the only ones they feel are appropriate for younger kids, though there is no link to the Searchasurus tool available through their EBSCO subscription. The teen homework page has more links to databases than the kids’, but the descriptions are exactly the same as those given on the general page.

Overall Review of Database Accessibility:

One of the strengths of the subscription databases offered by the Columbus Metropolitan Library is that they are well integrated into the other subject related offerings and recommended websites, both through tutorials and through subject specific pages. They also address the unique information needs of certain groups–the exception is children and teens. Yes the two groups have their own pages, but the sections specifically addressing information needs are very weak. Hopefully, this will be resolved with the creation of a homework help page, to complement the Homework Help Centers the library offers at many of its locations.

Subscription Databases Salt Lake City Library April 21, 2009

Posted by swegene1 in Databases, Final Project, Salt Lake City Library.
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The Salt Lake City Public Library has a very simple opening page, that directs users interested in electronic research to a “Research Center.” Like the county system, the city library provides access to databases provided by the Pioneer State library system as well as subscriptions funded through the city library distinguishing between those resources provided by each service. Also similar to the county system, they have included selected database resources in their “homework help” section on their teen page.  As I review the way that these databases are integrated into the electronic presence of this library, I will ask the same three 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?

Answering these questions will help me to determine, not only what types of services are offered, but how well users are able to navigate the website independently to find answers that are suitable to their information needs and their developmental levels.

 

Pathways for Accessing Databases:

 

Subscription databases on the Salt Lake City Public Library are primarily accessible from a Research Center opening platform, which directs users to different subscription services. These include the Pioneer Databases, the general subscriptions, those through a partnership with the Foundation Center in New York, and their netlibrary audio book subscription center.  Services targeted at teens and children are also located on Homework Help pages for each age group, where they are mixed together with general resources.

 

From the opening platform, most of the subscription services are accessible from a page called “search databases.” This page has three different listings of the databases, one by subject, one in alphabetical order, and one with the descriptions. In the topical area each database is broken down into the component parts that would work within each topic, such as the different EBSCO database interfaces. Since they are broken down into parts, there are more services listed in the topical areas then in the alphabetical, and more in the alphabetical listings then in the descriptions. Bellow the side by side alphabetical and topical lists, there is a listing with descriptions. This listing groups services together by the service provider, so rather then ten different listings for EBSCO databases, there is one paragraph about all of them. The descriptions are very short, and not always illustrative of what is actually available through them.

 

Databases are also accessible through pages specifically designed to help children and teens with their homework. There is a Teen page and a Kid page which offer a selection of databases that are aimed at these groups, and an additional page called “Databases for the Student.” )

 

Assistance in Using the Databases:

 

 The Salt Lake City Library system offers quite a bit of assistance for the general user who wants to use their subscription databases. The opening page of their “Research Center” points out that these services are accessible from home with a library card—an important accessibility feature that is not always spelled-out right out front. They also provide links to tutorials provided by the databases they subscribe to, such as the video tutorial for the EBSCO Kids Search.

 

Beyond the continual reminder of the need for a library card, the City library also provides a very useful research guide directly aimed for students. It provides an extensive explanation of what the databases in general are and what they are useful for, offering specifics on what classes what databases might prove useful for students to use. Unlike the lists of databases on other pages, this provides more of a narrative account of the resources. The one weakness of this resource is that it is almost impossible to find, both on the website and in the library. (I saw it on one pass through the site, but it still took me a good 15 minutes to find it again when I went back to write this up

 

More prominently displayed then this “Student Guide” is a great bullet point presentation on several key resources for teens. This is a great resource because it not only provides students with information as to WHY they should use a database, WHAT they will get from using it, but most importantly HOW to use it. In step by step instructions, the guide walks users through the somewhat complicated pathway to accessing these databases. It would be nice to have a more visual tool to present this material, but the information is spot on. Unfortunately the kid’s “Homework Spot” is merely a list of databases for kids, with the warning they will need their library card number, and a list of general internet websites.

 

Database Choice—Descriptions and Age Appropriateness:

 

This category overlaps with the previous one, because offering clear and concise descriptions of databases is one of the best forms of assistance that libraries can provide their users. It is important to tell users a few crucial pieces of information in these descriptions: WHO, WHAT, WHY, and HOW.  On the main research center, the Salt Lake City Library breaks the databases down into subject groups, which indicates to some degree what will be found there. They also provide short descriptions of the databases that do not all answer these questions. For instance this is what they say about their EBSCO databases on the main page:

EBSCOhost Research Databases (via Pioneer) | EBSCOhost Tutorials | these powerful tools index millions of full-text articles across all subject areas. Includes: Academic Search Premier, Agricola, Alt Health Watch, Business Source Premier, Clinical Phamacology, Computer Science, EBSCO Animals, ERIC, Fuente Academica, Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, Health Source, Legal Collection, MAS Ultra – School Edition, MasterFILE Premier, MedicLatina, MEDLINE, Middle Search Plus, Military & Government Collection, Newspaper Source, Primary Search, Professional Development Collection, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, Regional Business News, Religion and Philosophy Collection, TOPICsearch, and Vocational and Career Collection.”

This is just a list of databases they subscribe to, and only incidentally answers any of these questions. On the page designed for teens, however, they offer a much more pointed explanation of what can be found through this tool, why people would want to use it, and even offer a step by step guide on how to use it:

EBSCO Student Research Center

Why this site is great:

  • You can click “Visual Search” at the top of the home page and use an interactive search feature (GROK) that helps you narrow and refine your topic
  • In addition to the typical newspaper and magazine articles, this site will pull up RADIO AND TV TRANSCRIPTS
  • You can access COUNTRY REPORTS, STATE REPORTS, MAPS AND FLAGS
  • This site has an excellent collection of PHOTOS and an easy way to access them (click the” Photos, Maps, and Flags” icon, and then type the subject you want in the search box)
  • You can easily limit your search to “PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS” if that’s what your teacher has requested.

How to get there:

  • Click here
  • Then click “Student Research Center – High School and Middle School”
  • If you are at home,
  • Go to our library website at http://www.slcpl.org.
  • Click “Research Center” on the left side of the home page
  • Click “Search Databases”
  • Go to the Alphabetical list and click “EBSCO Research Databases” and log in with your name and library card number

This second description also demonstrates how databases can be presented answering these questions as well as addressing specific groups of users with particular information needs. Many of these databases are designed with specific interfaces for distinct developmental levels—such as the High School and Middle School search. It would be really useful if more of the descriptions pointed this out.

 

Overall Review of Database Accessibility:

 

In a lot of ways the Salt Lake City Public Library has many excellent features to promote accessibility to their databases, but they are very unevenly deployed. Their presentation of databases for teens is excellent, but the general page on databases is overwhelming with little specific direction for users. By extending the type of description available to the teens to other areas of the website, the library would better be able to serve all of its customers. Even the presentation to the teens could be improved through the supplement of a visual tool that could illustrate the needed steps needed to access databases.

 

Subscription Databases at the Salt Lake County Library System April 19, 2009

Posted by swegene1 in Databases, Final Project, Salt Lake County Library.
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In looking at the subscription databases offered by these four library systems, I want to inquire after the same three points that I looked at in my review of their OPACs. My goal is to determine what paths users can take to access the databases: is there one central place where they are listed, or are there many pages and places directing users to the same databases. Beyond this, I’m particularly interested to find out what types of descriptions are given of the various databases and their use, as well as how they are presented for children and teachers. In order to pursue these issues, I will be asking these three 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?

As with the OPACs, some library webpages are simpler then others, and the Salt Lake County Library system has a site that is stuffed full of features and links. This provides many ways to access the information, but also means that there are more ways for users to get lost. Focusing on not only what databases are available, but how easy it is to find them will help me to understand what the user experience is like.

Pathways for Accessing Databases:
From the website of the Salt Lake County Library System, there are many ways to access the various databases that the system and the Pioneer state library system offer for users. On the front page alone there is a quick search feature, links to featured resources, and a side panel made up of databases and services related to books and movies. There are also at least three links to additional pages with lists of databases.

Main Database Page:
Whether it is one of the links on the main page of the website, the link from the top bar of the page frame, or from the tool bar inside the OPAC, the user looking for databases is directed to a central page. This page called “Database Research by Topic” actually offers various ways to interact with the resources. First is a Quick Search interface, like the one on the front page of the library website. After that there is a list of pages each with databases on a specific topic—one of 17 areas, and under that is a link to an alphabetical list of databases. At the bottom of the page there are direct links to specific vendor’s interfaces, so users can search all EBSCO databases or all Thomson-Gale databases all together.

In addition to these access points, links to databases are also present from within lists of recommended websites. Kids and Teens Homework Help Pages contain lists of resources, both internet and subscription databases. The databases are lumped in with all of the other pages, with a caveat that users will need to have their Salt Lake County Library card number to access them from home. In addition, the library has pages aimed at adults wherein subscription databases mingle with websites.

Beyond the various pages with links to the subscription databases, perhaps the most interesting way to access the databases is through the Quick Search. This search tool allows users to simultaneously look in more then one database, as well as the catalog, and the webpage. It also allows searches in specific topic areas, such as Biographies, Science, Arts, and others. In order to use the search users need to have a Salt Lake County library card number, they are then directed to a page listing results for search term from each individual database. These results can be grouped in lot of different ways, by relevance, by database, and by traditional sorting features of author and title.

Assistance in Using the Databases:
The Salt Lake County Library does offer some guidance to assist their patrons in using their databases. In particular, the library offers an explanation of what databases are and why users would want to use them over just searching the internet. For children and parents they offer a good description of why databases are good choices for homework assignments, and even have a letter that students can give to their teachers

Beyond these short explanations, users can find tutorials within most of the databases to guide them in finding answers, though the library does not make any mention of these tools. They also do not have general database use assistance, such as explanations of Boolean logic.

Database Choice—Descriptions and Age Appropriateness:
One of the most difficult factors for libraries and library users is selecting where to look for the answers to any information need, something that is exacerbated by the internet that offers millions of different possibilities. Librarians overcome this information overload by becoming familiar with a wide range of resources so that they can direct people to the ones that might closely match their needs and developmental level (such as a consumer health database as opposed to Medline). On library webpages, it is necessary to provide some of this type of guidance so that users know what they are likely to find in a database—especially when sites require users to log in with a library card number in order to use each and every database.

In a lot of ways, the descriptions of databases are crucial tools to assist users in making decisions, they need to tell users not only what the database is, but who it is aimed at, and what kinds and forms of information will be retrieved. While the Salt Lake County Library does have an alphabetized list of databases with descriptions, these kinds of lists tend to overwhelm the user if they don’t know the specific tool they are looking for. For that reason, the library breaks the databases down by topic, creating subject specific pages. These pages contain lists of databases with descriptions that all have a similar topical link. Many databases are in more then one subject area—such as biographical tools are in many as they profile people in many subject areas.

Another major issue in listing databases is whether to group services offered by one provider or lump them together. For instance, World Book Encyclopedia offers interfaces for Kids, Students, Spanish speakers, and an adult interface, some libraries list each interface as a distinct tool, while others group them. In general, Salt Lake County Library system groups about half of their databases together. They break up EBSCO and Thomson-Gale databases into the individual subscriptions, but for the ones they lump together, they provide a list of the services offered within the broader subscription. This allows users to see all of the interfaces in one place and to find out about some tools that might not be individually listed. For instance the entry for the World Book service looks like this:

World Book Encyclopedia
Here you will find links to World Book Online’s:
World Book Encyclopedia
World Book offers more than 25,000 encyclopedia articles that are carefully edited to suit the educational level of the users most likely to use them, from grades 4 through 12 and adults.
World Book Atlas
The 500 maps in the online atlas cover the whole globe interactively, linking to each other, and directly to articles on continents, countries, states, provinces, cities and other places shown on the maps.
World Book Dictionary
The dictionary contains approximately 248,000 entries. Users can either search for a word or double-click on any word appearing in a World Book article for a definition.
World Book Research Libraries
U. S. History – Witness the origins, struggles and continuation of the United States of America.
Political Science & Law – Peruse the major developments in law, order, justice and government.
Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos
La Enciclopedia estudiantil hallazgos en línea es una enciclopedia de conocimientos generales. Contiene información sobre gente, lugares, objetos, acontecimientos e ideas. Aprovecha esta enciclopedia para investigar y divertirte.
Special Features
Behind the Headlines – A feature that uses World Book articles to explain the complex events that shape our world today.
Back in Time – The approximately 13,000 historic articles from past World Book Year Books present a you-are-there account of the most significant events of each year.
Surf the Ages – Visit imaginary news sites from Ancient Times, The Middle Ages, or Modern Times. Then, link to dozens of e-zines, want ads, bookstores and other types of simulated Web sites, written from the perspective of that time.
This database is brought to you by Salt Lake County Library Services

Some of the larger subscription databases, such as EBSCO and Thomson-Gale, are listed by the individual database, even when the search interface is the same. In part this is to highlight the wide array of topical areas provided through different databases—from Consumer Information to Science searches, but in this case it is also because access to some databases is provided by the Pioneer State Library system and some by the Salt Lake County library system.

 

One advantage of many of these large database systems is that they feature age specific interfaces that allow children to search material that is either aimed at their interests or written at their developmental level. The searches aren’t perfect, but the library can list them as suitable for youth which helps direct students and parents in their information search. At Salt Lake County system there is a page specifically for students, with just those databases aimed at youth. There is no effort, however, to direct different age groups to the appropriate tool.

For instance, EBSCO produces multiple search options and interfaces for different age/grade levels. Two of these specific age appropriate searches are listed on the student resource page, but the descriptions do not mention the fact that they are aimed at different age ranges—even though EBSCO explicitly names the “Student Resource Center” as Middle School and High School. The page also does not include  link to the Searchasaurus interface, which the library does have access to, and which is aimed at lower grade levels.

 

Overall Review of Database Accessibility:

 

Taken as a whole the Salt Lake County Library has many paths to access their subscription databases, but they could strengthen their service to their patrons by providing more complete descriptions of the databases, particularly those aimed at children. In addition, the need to sign in for each and every database is very cumbersome, as compared to establishing proxy access that would permit users to access databases for a certain amount of time. By making a few small corrections, the library system could greatly increase their ability to serve youth with their databases.

Subscription Databases and State Libraries April 12, 2009

Posted by swegene1 in Databases, Final Project.
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With the popularity of the internet many people want answers instantaneously, without having to wade through books or even leave their homes. Libraries compete to stay relevant in this new world in many ways. They incorporate a wide range of tools on their websites to help them provide customer service beyond their physical locations, and to provide guidance and a gateway to the growing world of electronic resources. Through a combination of subscription databases and pathways, library websites attempt to tame the internet to facilitate their users finding accurate information.

 

Large public libraries allocate substantial proportions of their budgets to pay for subscriptions to various databases, but even small libraries can provide some access through cooperative agreements, with regional or state systems. Both of the states where the libraries are in this study have state systems that provide access to additional resources. The two state systems function in different ways, but both expand the access available to public libraries.

 

The Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) provides both internet connections and access to “quality research databases not freely available on the World Wide Web.” These are seamlessly integrated into the databases listed on the individual library websites, so it is necessary to check against the OPLIN database list to see what the difference. In addition, some Ohio libraries don’t link all resources they have access to through OPLIN.

 

While OPLIN mostly acts behind the scenes of Ohio Public Libraries, the Utah Pioneer Public Library system is a much more visible presence. Utah library users are able to directly access the state subscribed databases without visiting the individual library pages, and both of the libraries studied clearly state which databases they pay for and which the state does.  

 

Earlier, I examined some of the new features in OPACs, looking to see to what degree these offer instruction for users seeking information independently. Turning to subscription databases I want to discover what kind of services are offered, what kind of instructions are provided, and how these services are promoted to children, teachers, and parents/caregivers.