Hidden Resources @ the Library by Marie Lydon

Read Marie Lydon’s column in the February 15, 2013 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

The New Year saw changes in publishing that made me realize more than ever that the times definitely are changing. Newsweek, a magazine I had subscribed to since college and beyond, ceased publication altogether in December. It had altered a lot in the last few years and definitely slimmed down but I was still sad to see it go. Around the same time that Newsweek made its announcement Morningstar sent notice that after its December issue, it would no longer publish a paper edition of Morningstar Mutual Funds, which the library had been subscribing to for years. So, when a couple came into the library recently and sat down with the investment notebook, they were surprised to learn that it is now available only online as Morningstar Investment Research Center. They recovered quickly and were pleased to learn that they can now access it from home if they have a computer, a Minuteman card and live in a town that subscribes to it, which Norwood does. A frustration could be that the license provides that only one person at a time can use it so if an “Access Denied” message comes up, it means that someone else is using it. When you think about it, only one person at a time could ever use it and then only in the library so even if it is more expensive online, there is a lot more information, and in the long run it is more accessible to more people now than it ever was before.

When Brian McGrory, the new editor of the Boston Globe, spoke at the library recently, questions were asked about the future of printed newspapers. He was optimistic about the Globe and feels that the newspaper and the new online Boston Globe website at www.bostonglobe.com will complement each other. As a Sunday subscriber, I was inspired to go home and sign up for the online version and the ePaper, which is a digital replica of the print version, making me feel like I have the best of both worlds.

Recently, a friend came to the library looking for Consumer Reports because her washing machine had broken. We keep the periodical at the Reference Desk with a note on it to remind ourselves to remind patrons that it is also online if emergencies occur and they need “expert” advice when the library is not open, so I did remind her. That really seems to be “the issue” with the databases—we have to be reminded.

Not everyone knows about Morningstar, Consumer Reports, and all of the other online databases or that they are even available. People do seem to know about Ancestry and RefUSA and they call or come here specifically to use them. Some of the others are not as familiar. Each vendor has its own rules, which makes for confusion. Just the word “Databases” is confusing to many people. Most of the databases contain full text magazine, newspaper or reference book articles that you can print, download or email to yourself to print later. All of our databases are available in the library. All but two are available to more than one user at a time. The ones that are provided by state and federal funds through the Mass Board of Library Commissioners and the Massachusetts Library System are available to every library cardholder in the state, whether at home or in the library. The databases that Norwood subscribes to are available to all in the library but only to Norwood residents with Minuteman library cards from home.

When you go to our website, norwoodlibrary.org and click on “Databases for Research” under Quick Links on the right hand side of the screen, you will see an alphabetical list of all the databases that our library offers with brief descriptions of them, how they can be accessed, and who funds them. When you click on the ones that Norwood provides, you are required to enter your library card number for access from home. The ones provided by the state do not ask for library card authentication.

There are a variety of subject categories covered by the databases: Biographies, Encyclopedias, Business and Investment, Consumer Information, Education, Genealogy, Health and Wellness, History, Languages, Literary Criticism, Newspapers and Science, to name a few. Below are some databases I have added a few words about that you might find helpful.

The Boston Consumers Checkbook has articles about and rates local businesses and services online. It also publishes a magazine twice a year. This database can only be used in the library.

The Gale Virtual Reference Library is a great database for students doing research or anyone looking for authoritative information. It has specific reference books and encyclopedias (I counted 79 titles) on a variety of topics such as history, crime, law, medicine, the environment, bioethics and business, to mention a few. Many of these reference titles we have in our library, but having this database enables you to access them at any time from any computer and to search some or all of them simultaneously.

Legal Forms is a database of basic Massachusetts’s legal forms searchable by title or category. Those who want to do it themselves can use these sample forms. Topics include Wills & Estates, Bankruptcy, Power of Attorney, Divorce, Landlord & Tenants, and Real Estate, to name a few.

Mango Languages is an easy way to become familiar with a different language. It has audio and written examples for learning 39 foreign languages and 15 for ESL students
studying English. The learners choose their own level and progress at their own pace. This database can be accessed from any computer but works better from home than in the library because of the audio.

The Testing and Education Reference Center is a wonderful resource for students and parents. There is a Family College Planning Guide by grade level to help direct students applying to college, seeking financial aid, or considering various career options. Practice tests include ASVAB, GRE, GED, SAT, AP Subject Preps, TOEFL, Citizenship and more. Many times the books with these tests are checked out of the library when students are preparing for the tests. The financial aid section includes the FAFSA form which can be filled in, printed and mailed or filled out online from the database.

These “hidden resources” are just a few that are available to you as a cardholder at the Morrill Memorial Library. If you have trouble accessing any of these databases from home or in the library, please let us know. Contact us at 781-769-0200, ext. 110.

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