This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, February 18, 1998

February 18, 1998 - SearchBank

The basic resources of the Douglas Public Library District are print materials -- books, magazines, newspapers, and pamphlets. A second category is audiovisual materials -- mostly tapes and videos.

A third, much newer category is electronic resources. Some of these resources are CD-ROM's. (An experimental collection of educational CD-ROM's can be found on the shelves of our Parker Library. If they're popular, we hope to repeat the effort at our other libraries.) Other CD-ROM based resources are accessible through dedicated workstations at most of our libraries.

Yet another example of electronic resources are databases offered over the Internet. Some of those databases are public. "Yahoo" (at www.yahoo.com) is an example -- a comprehensive and well-organized guide to free resources over the World Wide Web.

But this week's topic is a second category of Internet resources: "commercial databases." These are resources the library pays for, usually in the form of annual subscription fees.

Available since the beginning of this year is one such offering called Searchbank. Searchbank is a trio of databases we think have much to offer our patrons.

The first database is called "General BusinessFile ASAP." It encompasses information from January 1995 through February 1998, and focuses on business and management topics. It includes directory listings for over 150,000 companies as well as investment analysts' reports on major companies and industries. I believe this database is of particular value to the many Small Office, Home Office businesses in Douglas County. (It's also handy to anybody considering either investments or job applications.)

The second database is called "General Reference Center." This one includes popular magazines from January 1994 through February 1998. This general interest database is useful to search magazines, reference books, and newspapers for information on current events, popular culture, the arts and sciences, sports, etc. The users of this database are both the interested layperson and the beleaguered high school student.

The third database is the "Health Reference Center." Covering various sources from January 1994 through February 1998, this database includes articles on: Fitness, Pregnancy, Medicine, Nutrition, Diseases, Public Health, Occupational Health & Safety, Alcohol and Drug abuse, HMOs, Prescription Drugs, etc. I typed in a search for "skin cancer," and found not only a host of useful pamphlets and current articles, but also some remarkably clear, non-technical descriptions of just what skin cancer was. The user of this database is just about anyone with a question about their well-being, or the well-being of a loved one. And again, it's of particular use to the student.

Together, the range and depth of these resources is astonishing. When you're doing the sort of research that requires a host of current (but mostly short document) information on a topic, the Searchbank trio is a major time saver.

Right now, the easiest way to search this resource is from our home page (http://douglas.lib.co.us). As of this week, all of our full service libraries have our new Internet workstations. Unfortunately, the web-based version is accessible only to those patrons physically in the library.

Soon, we hope to set up a "patron authentication" system. If you're connecting from your home or office, typing your library card number will unlock the database. For obvious reasons, the distributors of Searchbank don't want to give away this very valuable product to everybody on the Internet.

I should point out, however, that both Searchbank and Lynx (a text-based Internet browser) are available from our regular library terminals, both in-house, and to those patrons connecting through a phone line. From our library catalog screen, choose "Other libraries and databases." Then just follow instructions on the screen. While this isn't quite as convenient as the graphical version, both Searchbank and Lynx are powerful, very fast, and free to our patrons.

Here's hoping that you will like them as much as we do.

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