Some Thoughts from a Guest Blogger…

We’d like to welcome a guest blogger, Michelle from CLAV, who would like to share her thoughts on the importance of database training.  Thanks for posting, Michelle!  (If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please email beasleys @ carnegielibrary.org.)

The importance of database training

The library offers many resources, a great deal of which are online. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the internet has become quite a hot commodity in the last 10 or so years. Printed books, magazines, newspapers, etc. have slowly been on their way to the back burner while electronic resources have been on the rise. Not a day goes by when patrons don’t ask questions like “Can you help me with this on the computer?”

It’s important that you answer those types of question with a big YES!

“Oh, you are looking for an article on women’s rights from the sixties? YES, of course I can help you. Let me show you this awesome database called MasterFILE Premier. You can get to it from our website by clicking on…”

Our number one job at the library is to help our patrons find information. That is essentially why we are here. It is because of this that we must stay up to date with the resources we offer. The databases we have at our fingertips are there to help us. I know how busy library land can get, believe me, but when a database training or any e-resource training is offered, it is vital to our survival that at least one person per library attends.

Just this past week there was a training session offered about our history and ancestry databases. Now, we all know we have databases available, however, how many of us have really taken the time to browse through each one and learn how to use them? We could all spend hours learning how to use the different aspects of each database, but honestly, who has the time or patience? The history and ancestry databases training I went to was over two hours long and yes I did have to get up early, but I learned more about those databases in those couple of hours than I would have on my own. I learned that the two history databases had articles available that could be translated into different languages, that you could listen to an audio recording of some of them, and they were labeled based on an individual’s learning level. I know I wouldn’t have discovered that information so quickly on my own.

The library I work at is located within walking distance of two high schools. Can you say research projects? Every so many months the pattern begins. Students stream in the front doors, look around for a few moments on their own and then make their way back to the front desk with a hopeful look in their eyes. “Can YOU help me find something for my history project?”

After the first so many days pass by we notice that the books on our shelves about their subjects are slowly disappearing. If we didn’t have database-trained staff on hand when these students came in, where would they get the information they need for their projects? Google? Bing? While some of the information you find on these search engines is true and helpful, wouldn’t you rather the patron get the information they are searching for from you? Yes, they could browse our sites and find the databases on their own, but would they know how to navigate through them and narrow down their searches if we didn’t show them how to do it?

Unless WE show our patrons where to find and how to use the resources we have available, they may never know they exist. It is our responsibility to show our patrons why we are still relevant to our community. Not only will we be helping the patron, but in the long run, we will be helping ourselves.

Michelle
Circulation Manager/Adult Programmer
CLAV
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Helpful hints from the “History and Genealogy” training sessions…

Here are some helpful hints from Wednesday’s “History and Genealogy” training sessions, offered up from members of the EREC committee who attended. Representatives from ProQuest’s Ancestry.com, from Gale’s U.S. History in Context and World History in Context, and from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Room led the training.

Helpful Hints for Ancestry.com

  • Because variation and inconsistency in indexing old records often leads to spelling variations of names, the Ancestry  representative recommended using “?” or “*” in place of variable characters.
  • There are training resources for Ancestry here: http://proquest.com/en-US/promos/ALE/Genealogy_Research_Tools.shtml.  It also includes a description of the difference between Ancestry Library Edition and Ancestry.com.
  •  In Ancestry you can only send 5 emails to the same email account, so a better option is to save your item(s) as an image file and email them as an attachment.

 Helpful Hints for U.S. History in Context and World History in Context

  • The topic pages allow you to create a bookmark to link directly to the desired page–very useful for specialized library websites for students, assignments, etc.
  • You can have the text read to you by clicking on “Listen.” Not only will it be read to you, it will highlight the words being read so that you can follow along. It also gives you the option of limiting what’s read by highlighting a portion of the text, or even just a single word.
  • Gale will soon be offering customized promotional materials.

Helpful Hints from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Department

  • The 1940 Census will be made available for public inspection beginning Monday, April 2, 2012. It does not have a name index or Soundex. Searches can be done by enumeration district, which are the geographic areas in which the information was collected.
  • This website provides shortcuts to many genealogical websites: http://stevemorse.org and will help in finding enumeration districts.

 Please add your own helpful hints by clicking on “Comments.” And look for information (coming soon!) about our next training session. It will be held on April 25th at the Cooper-Siegel Community Library in O’Hara Township and will be about job and career resources.

Mary Lee (Northland)

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Wilson Databases Now Part of EBSCOhost

At the beginning of 2012 Wilson Databases and EBSCOhost merged.  Allegheny County residents have had access to Wilson Databases such as Omni File Mega and Science Full Text Select from the Pennsylvania PowerLibrary databases for the last few years.  Those databases are still available but have been migrated to the EBSCOhost platform. This is the same platform that is currently used with Ebsco’s MasterFile Premier and LISTA.

Ebsco has put together a handy guide to the transition which you can download in pdf format hereMore information can be found at support.ebsco.com

If you are in charge of your library’s website and would like to avoid the confusion of having to select from an array of databases you can use this URL to do a intergrated search of all EBSCOhost databases:
http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,cpid&custid=s4663075&profile=ehost

You can also download logos to create direct links to databases that increase usage and exposure. They can be placed anywhere on your website:
http://www.ebscohost.com/customerSuccess/default.php?id=190

Creating a direct database link is easy. You will start with this: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,cpid&custid=s4663075&profile=ehost&defaultdb=
Use the link below to find the database code that you will enter after the “=” in the url. 
http://support.ebsco.com/knowledge_base/detail.php?id=1255&t=h

If you are linking directly to Novelist you will use this:
http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,cpid&custid=s4663075&profile=novelist

Remember to sign up for next week’s History Database Training at Monroeville or Green Tree.

-Dustin/Northern Tier

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Ahoy, Mateys!

Shiver me timbers!  Did you know that the Mango Languages database offers a course in Pirate?!  Learn lingo, dialect, and more!

Of course there are lessons for Italian, German, Thai, Polish, French and many other languages for all you landlubbers out there.

Mango Languages not only teaches you grammar, pronunciation, and conversational skills, but also provides interesting cultural notes!

 Also, don’t forget about Mango Languages’ Translator.  This convenient tool will translate your text from one language to another with ease. And, unlike those free ones on the web, this one you can trust.

 Remember, “to err is human, to arr is pirate!”

– Rob (Bethel Park)

Continue Reading Ahoy, Mateys!