Saturday, October 27, 2007

An overlooked resource - online databases

Spent a few hours this morning conducting a short workshop for local writers on using online databases.

Never heard of them? You would not be the only one. And even though libraries understand just how valuable these tools are in today's information world, the fact that so few laypeople know about them is a sign that they need marketing more strongly.

But it continues to surprise me that so few writers know about this invaluable resource. They are a tool that can help with all kinds of research and marketing questions, and you've a btter chance of including credible material using them, rather than general Internet searching.

Online database are electronic collections of articles, papers and information that's a far superior source of research information that general web searches.

Below is the list of those that my library offers. This will give you an idea of the range of information available. If you live in Surrey, most of the the highlighted links will take you right into the database, where you simply have to enter your library card number to go any further. (In a few cases you have to be in the library iteself to access the db.) If you are elsewhere in the world, go to your own library website to see what online databases your card gives you access to.

AccessScience - a science encyclopedia, plus biographies, study guides and more, for high school through university.
Alldata - automotive repair information for technicians, from manufacturer's manuals, 1982 - present.
Ancestry Library -International genealogy resource with the largest online Canadian family history collection, searchable by surname. Includes many digitized full records.
Ancient & Medieval History Online - Learn about the cultures of ancient Egypt, ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, ancient and medieval Africa, medieval Europe, the Americas, and ancient and medieval Asia.
Auto Repair Reference Center - automotive repair information for the layperson, from Chilton's manuals, 1945 - present
BC Codes - BC Building Code, BC Fire Code, and BC Plumbing Code.
BC Stats Releases - Up-to-date business and economic indicators such as the Consumer Price Index, Earnings & Employment Trends, Small Business Quarterly, etc.
usiness Source Premier is the industry’s most used business research database, providing articles from more than 8,800 top business magazines
Canadian Newsstand - 200 Canadian newspapers online including major dailies like The Vancouver Sun, The Province, The Globe & Mail, and The National Post, plus many community papers including The Surrey Now, The Surrey Leader, The Langley Advance, etc.
CBCA - Canadian general interest and business magazines, newspapers, and broadcast transcripts. Good for current affairs, scholarly articles, book reviews, company information, and a range of Canadian topics.
Consumer Health Complete - articles on all areas of wellness, from mainstream medicine to complementary and alternative approaches. Includes information from encyclopedias, reference books and academic journals.
Contemporary Authors - biographical and bibliographical information on over 120,000 authors
Contemporary Literary Criticism - 35,000 critical essays on the works of contemporary authors
Discovering Collection - for middle to high school students on literature, history, biography, science and social studies, including essays, criticism, biographies, timelines and multimedia.
EBSCO - a collection of databases, including: Masterfile -- over 1700 magazines covering all subjects, Academic Search - over 2000 periodicals Computer Source - over 300 computer publications, Hospitality & Tourism Index, Religion & Philosophy Collection.
EBSCO Kids Search - articles and encyclopedias for K-8.
EBSCO Searchasaurus - a dinosaur guide to articles and encyclopedias for K-8.
eBooks & eAudio - read or listen to ebooks online, or download eaudiobooks to a PC or portable device...
Encyclopedia of BC - over 4,000 articles on BC places and things including photographs, statistics, maps, web links, sound & video clips
E-STAT - Statistics about Canada and Canadians, designed especially for students and teachers. Available in library only at all Surrey Public Library branches.
JobFreeway - job search, post your resume or search candidates for BC.
LitFinder - Poems, Stories, Plays & Speeches.
Naxos Music Library - An online listening music library containing over 85,000 streaming audio tracks of classical, jazz, world, and folk music. Sound quality near CD. While listening online, you can read notes on the works being played or biographies of composers.
Naxos Spoken Word Library - 275 audiobooks online including classics for kids and adults, biographies, non-fiction and poetry.
NoveList - your guide to fiction for adults, teens and children, including plot summaries, author read-alikes, award winners, book reviews, discussion guides and more.
Opposing Viewpoints - books and magazines about social issues.
Oxford Reference - 100 specialized language and subject dictionaries.
Press Display - Today's newspapers online in 35 languages, from 65 countries. QPLegalEze - BC laws, regulations and legal information.
Reference Canada - Comprehensive database of 1.5 million Canadian businesses, great for market research and job hunting. Search by name, industry, location, business size, phone, etc.
Science Online - diagrams, experiments, biographies and more, for school projects and homework grades 4 - 12.
Tumblebook Library - A collection of animated picturebooks, games and puzzles for kids.
What Do I Read Next? - a guide to fiction and non-fiction for adults, teens and children.
World Book Online - an all around great encyclopedia for elementary school and above.

All public libraries subscribe to suites of online databases, and any person holding a library card from that library can access the databases from home through the library website - or by visiting the library.

My next post answers one question that came up during the workshop - Where can I find lists of writer's guidelines?

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