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Monday, March 23, 2009

Library Corner March 26, 2009

Make sure your research is complete with verified sources. Databases are collections of trustworthy information about a single theme. For example, the InfoTrac Custom Newspaper database focuses on full-text coverage of over 100 newspapers in the U.S. and worldwide. Heritage Quest Online can help you find information about people and places from more than 1.9 million genealogy and local history articles.

You might ask why you cannot use any or every result that your search engine returns. (aka Google or Yahoo) Three very good reasons: 1) everything on the web isn't reliable. Wouldn't you rather have your 4th grader browsing through the Searchasaurus, a kid-friendly database specifically for elementary school children? 2) Everything on the web isn't free. It takes time and judgment to look at a website, determine if its content is good, its sources knowledgeable, and its links and references updated and working. In good databases, people are paid salaries to make sure all this is done well. 3) Everything on the web isn't easy to find. Have you ever tried to find something on Google and had thousands of returns? Or none at all? It might be easy to find the American Diabetes Association but maybe not so simple when you're holding three different kinds of prescription bottles in your hand and wondering how they'll interact. (Tip, try TexShare Database Consumer Health Complete, in English or Spanish.)

It is very tempting to use an ordinary Internet search or wikipedia for your research, but these sources are not verified. How frustrating to spend your time and energy on a paper, and find out your information is not correct. When you need the real deal in your research and want some of the best online tools available, use your local public library's access to the Texas State Library's TexShare databases.

All it takes is a user name and password that can be issued to you from your public library. Some of the great databases included through the Pittsburg Camp County Public Library include Ebsco’s Masterfile Premier, Student Research Center, Kids Search and Enhanced Business Search. There is Academic Search Premier, Military and Government Collection, Newspaper Source, Religion and Philosophy Collection, Psychology and Behavioral Science Collection, Vocational and Career Collection, Business Source Complete, Regional Business News, Bibliography of Native North Americans, World History Collection, Alt Health Watch, Ebsco Consumer Health Complete, Contemporary Authors, and 20th Century Poetry Collections.

You can also use Netlibrary to check out your ebooks to read online. This is an excellent tool for researching a few pages within a book. There are thousands of titles available on Netlibrary's online service.

Call the library; ask what you need to do to get started, and point your browsers to http://libraryoftexas.org. Log in, click on TexShare Database Menu and start your research. This service can be used in the library or at your home. Take advantage of all your public library has to offer you.

Remember to come by the library on Thursday mornings from 9am until 11am for “Coffee with the Friends”. For information about the Friends of the Library Group, or the Pittsburg-Camp County Public library, please call 903-856-3302 or email pccpl@sbcglobal.net. Stop by and check it out at 613 Quitman Street, Pittsburg, TX 75686.

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