411 on Information…we subscribe to these services so you don’t have to…

Patricia Yannarella is the Branch Manager of the Main Library and the Information Services Coordinator for the entire library system. One of her many “hats” is overseeing the instruction and usage of the Library’s research tools (databases).  She has a Masters Degree in Library Science from University of Michigan and she previously worked at University of Toledo Library, Omaha Public Library and Northern Kentucky University Library.

Libraries are all about providing information.  One of the ways we do this is by making a wide array of resources available to the public.  In this day and age, many of those resources are electronic.  This saves the Library physical space since we don’t have to have these materials sitting on our shelves, and provides a convenient format for you, the user, to find the information you need.  Across the country, libraries spend a great deal of money subscribing to databases of information. Boone County Public Library is no different; we spend over $130,000 per year on databases, or searchable online resources. At BCPL, we refer to our databases as research tools. Databases, or research tools, are usually collections of full text articles from journals or magazines, abstracts, citation information, newspaper articles, e-books, music, videos and even images. A research tool may be dedicated to a single subject or cover several subjects. Some publishers like Ebsco provide databases, such as EbscoHost Web, which allow you to search all their published content from one website.

Research tools are heavily used by students but they are used by all kinds of people to answer all types of questions.  One of our more popular research tools is the Chilton Reference Library which contains collections of information for repairing cars, trucks and small engines. We also subscribe to collections of courses with lessons on a specific subject. Universal Class provides access to more than 500 free continuing education courses and Mango is a language learning research tool with options for more than 47 different languages.  If you are planning a trip, Mango might be a helpful resource to check out.

Our research tools include streaming videos and downloadable music. You can watch independent films with IndieFlix and documentaries with Access Video.  Many teachers have incorporated documentaries from these resources into lesson plans, extending the teaching tools available. For something fun to do, try Freegal to download three free songs a week (and keep them forever).

Are you thinking of starting a small business?  Many of our research tools will help you find demographic information, market data and a wide variety of information geared to business and finance.  One popular business tool is ReferenceUSA – it contains information on most American firms. This is a great tool to do market research for your small business. You can select a location and do a radius search to look up the number of similar businesses in the area.  Good information to have if you are looking to start a new business. If you are a student, you could use this tool to research business information for your papers and class projects. If you are looking for a job, you could use ReferenceUSA to access information about a particular industry or company. You’ll find listings of executives, corporate families and company descriptions as well as maps showing business locations in this database.

Morningstar and Value Line provide company information through the eyes of an investor. Small Business Reference Center is a comprehensive resource for small business owners and those interested in starting a business, offering full-text periodicals and reports, sample business plans, U.S. tax forms, videos and reference books including the famous Nolo books.

Several of our research tools are not available on our website, they are only available via CD ROM. The CD-ROMs can be used by one person at a time on a CD-ROM workstation at the Main Library. You’ll find statistical data from the Bureau of the Census on these CDs. Things like county business patterns, state personal income statistics, zip code information, and more. Please contact the Main library reference staff to schedule a time to use the CD-ROM databases.

We also have research tools for children and teens. Tumblebooks, Tumblebooks Cloud and Tumblebooks Cloud Junior contain full text books and can be found on the Kids and Teen pages of the library website. We have history databases, genealogy databases and many more! Currently, Boone County Public Library subscribes to 80 different research tools!

One question we often hear is “Why use a research tool  when you can just Google the information?” Most of the data retrieved from Google hasn’t been evaluated. It could be inaccurate, biased, or it might not be current. Articles found in our research tools have already been evaluated for accuracy and credibility by discipline-specific experts and publishers as well as government organizations that have strict quality control guidelines for the data they collect and disseminate.

BCPL’s research tools will help you find reliable information from trusted sources. They contain copyrighted, licensed, and proprietary information. We pay an annual fee each year for these resources so that you can have access to these tools – all you need is your library card number to use them.  You’ll find our collection of research tools on our website www.bcpl.org under “Information Desk” and then “Research Tools.”

If you haven’t tried one of our research tools yet, I challenge you to find one that interests you, type in your Library card number, and begin discovering and enjoying a whole new world of information!

–Pat

BCPL’s most popular research tools Fiscal Year 2012-2013

Research   Tool #   of  Seaches $   Value of Searches
Ancestry

117,385

 $                  2,347,700.00
Freegal

58,064

 $                  1,161,280.00
TumbleBooks

53,367

 $                  1,067,340.00
Learning   Express

41,732

 $                     834,640.00
Access   Video on Demand

15,593

 $                     311,860.00
Total

286,141

 $                  5,722,820.00

 

 

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