Delaware Division of Libraries Blog
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Division of Libraries

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Putting Databases to Work For You.

Written on: May 24th, 2010 by: in Blog Posts

The Division of Libraries maintains subscriptions to a number of full-text online databases, with thousands of high quality magazines, journals, and newspapers available at no cost to all public library users in Delaware. You can access these databases through library websites, the Delaware Library Catalog, or this page.

Most people who use databases use them when a question or need arises- and as last week’s posting here concerning the recent NFAIS workshop suggests, our current restrictions and contractual requirements for authenticating access through use of library accounts puts databases at a competitive disadvantage to search engines, despite the fact that in many cases the reliability and scope of information available in the subscription services is much better than that found on the open web. We’re hoping that over time, through technological and regulatory improvements, that we can level the playing field to some extent and make the validated and superior online information that is available through library subscriptions the first thing that people think of when looking for information online.

One compelling feature of our EBSCO-provided databases, and one that is sadly underutilized, is the ability to create personalized alerts for new issues of favorite periodicals and magazines, as well as for scheduled searches across the whole title base for new articles of interest in particular subjects or disciplines. If you have a particular learning or professional interest, for example, you can have scheduled email delivery of new articles from Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Economist or Foreign Affairs, for example, or new articles from every publication in the database (tens of thousands of titles) on “fund raising”, “hypoplastic left heart syndrome”, or “al Qaeda”. Comparing the results for the fund raising search with Google for instance, show the advantages. The results in EBSCO are all from reliable sources and publications like Chronicle of Higher Philantrhopy, the New York Times, and Advertising Age, while in Google, where do you want to start with the 10 million plus results for that search phrase? If you work in the field, probably not with the Wikipedia result at number 5, or any of the commercial sites that precede it in the top results. Serious searching in serious resources might save serious time evaluating and navigated thousands of websites.

Instructions for setting up these services can be seen in the screencast below. Click to play or view full-screen:

Record your screencast online