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June 20, 2000

Last week, I mentioned that older library users are often disappointed in the Internet because of the lack of good, indexed information: ‘In other words, they expect the Internet to be more like the library information they’ve used in the past, and it’s just not there yet.”

It’s getting there, of course, and when it incorporates good indexing, powerful searching, and access to full text, online information surpasses the voluminous print indexes and magazine archives in accessibility.

The Internet makes available an enormous amount of information. Finding it can be a challenge. And if you’re more demanding, as you should be, finding reliable, authoritative information can be more challenging yet.

Access to well-maintained databases of indexed information costs money. Omniscient databases such as Dialog and Lexis-Nexis are still quite expensive, but some very good, affordable options are getting better all time.

The Salida Regional Library subscribes to a set of databases from OCLC’s FirstSearch OCLC maintains the world’s largest bibliographic database (library catalogs), called WorldCat, and it is included in our subscription. We use it for interlibrary loan searches every day.

Periodical indexes are a wonderful invention. In the past, you might grab a volume of Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature and look up a subject for recent magazine articles. Then, we would look for the back issues in our magazine storage room. If we didn’t have the issue, or didn’t subscribe to the magazine at all, then we would request a photocopy of the article from another library. The process required patience — and planning, if you had a deadline, as most students do.

Enter online indexes. A beloved improvement in this arena is “full text.” In addition to the convenience of searching an electronic index covering many years of a magazine, and then printing a handy list of articles, recent advances in Internet access and database technology have encouraged the inclusion of abstract and full text options alongside the index.

Included in the library’s among the library’s FirstSearch indexes are such databases as:

Periodical Abstracts, which covers a wide range of topics from over 2,000 general and academic journals, including full text for over 1,000 titles.

Article First, which is another general index covering over 12,000 journals, with the full text options growing.

ABI/Inform covers U.S. and international articles about business and management from 1850 journals, with 750 offering full text.

WilsonSelect offers full-text articles in science, humanities, and business from over 800 journals.

Also included is the ERIC database for articles in education and MEDL1NE for _articles in all areas of medicine. Both now offer some full text, as well. FirstSearch offers some handy tools for users. For example, you can e-mail yourself a copy of the abstract or full-text at no charge. For now, ask us for assistance accessing the indexes. In the near future, you’ll be able to do so with the click of a web page button.


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