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, September 15, 1999


I'm pleased to report that the Douglas Public Library District survived 9/9/99 -- an early test of the computer date problems collectively referred to as Y2K. Our computers did NOT fail, as some people predicted they might.

That's good, because I've noticed that we now have a surprising number of electronic reference works, and I'd hate to lose them. Available through the Internet, we have Colorado Newspapers, Reference USA, Standard and Poor's Stock Reports, Searchbank (which includes business, medical, and general periodical information), SIRS Researcher Online, and "What Do I Read Next?" which is a sort of electronic reader's advisor.

When I say these resources are available "through the Internet," that doesn't mean just anybody can get to them. The Douglas Public Library District pays for subscriptions to these databases on behalf of our patrons.

The significance of this is threefold. First, much of the information floating around the Internet isn't very reliable. The sources we pay for generally are. We apply the same standards to these purchases as we do for the reference books we add to our shelves: they have to be authoritative and useful.

Second, electronic resources tend to be far more current (no pun intended) than print versions. Some of these databases are updated daily, even hourly. This lets our patrons get today's information today, not a week from now.

Third, Internet subscriptions enable us to offer all of the above at every one of our full service library locations. In most cases, that's much cheaper than buying multiple paper copies for the branches. It also helps us establish a set of core resources that our library users can expect to find no matter where they go.

Not all of our electronic resources are provided through the Internet, though. Some are available on CD-ROM.

The advantage of CD-ROM is usually a combination of factors: it's faster than print versions (because both indexes and content are interfiled) and it has more multimedia -- pictures, sound, and filmclips.

Many of our CD-ROM titles are related to nature: Amazing Animals, Discovering Science, My Amazing Human Body, My First Amazing World Explorer, National Geographic/DVD 1888-1997, Topo Maps USA, and so on.

Others cover business needs, history, biography, quotations, authors, and maps.

We also have a couple of encyclopedias -- Microsoft Encarta, and World Book, for instance. And here's an interesting thing. The print and electronic versions of things are different, and not always to the detriment of paper.

For instance, while print encyclopedias will not, obviously, have sound and animation, they do tend to have longer, more comprehensive articles. This can make research a little more complicated, so when in doubt, don't hesitate to talk to a librarian.

I should note that our CD-ROM products are not consistent around the district. I've encouraged our branches to experiment, to test the market and see what gets used. Many students, particularly young ones, seem to prefer the CD-ROM products.

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