March is Women’s History Month and if you’re looking for an educational, passive activity to share with your patrons, then Gale has got you covered with a themed scavenger hunt.
Patrons can search the Gale in Context: World History database for the answers to a five-question quiz. Along the way, participants will explore a wide breadth of information and practice their research skills. Gale offers information in a variety of formats ranging from images to academic journals, and this scavenger hunt highlights the database’s offerings.
To add a bit of extra fun, consider offering an incentive to those who complete the scavenger hunt, such as a bookmark or small treat. If patrons inquire, Gale has included an answer sheet for the scavenger hunt.
I am writing this to inform the staff that the digital magazine subscription service Flipster will be ending in Allegheny County libraries on December 31, 2022. Once an innovative forerunner in the digital magazine game, Flipster has begun to show its age, outshined by relative newcomers Overdrive and hoopla. Before we announce anything to patrons, we wanted to take the time to explain why we are sunsetting Flipster.
Considering budgetary restraints and service overlap, the Digital Resources Committee (DRC) conducted a thorough review of all three big names in digital magazines: Flipster, Overdrive, and hoopla. It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a shot in the arm for digital access. With the dust starting to settle on the pandemic (or at least settle into the dreaded “new normal”), a re-evaluation of digital services was necessary. While looking at each provider, we considered several factors: usage, cost, user experience, authority/company reputation, accessibility, content availability, vendor service and administration, and mobile functionality. Each committee member took the time to independently evaluate these services with these criteria, and lo and behold: a consensus formed prior to discussion.
On all fronts, Flipster was coming up short. The final scores were: Flipster, 161; hoopla, 226, and Overdrive, 244. We found Flipster lagging on a number of important factors: missing latest editions, buggy/hard-to-use interface, limited back-issue access, and little name recognition. In addition, since the start of 2020, Flipster’s circulation decreased, an obvious red flag during an explosion of digital access and use. For these reasons, Flipster is the weakest link and a redundancy with both Overdrive and hoopla available to patrons.
Some patrons may take issue with the passing of trusty old Flipster, and we should be prepared. We would recommend citing some of the reasons above, particularly accessibility and latest-/back-issue access. We have found two effective methods:
Citing public libraries’ limited resources (pretty hard for folks to argue with this one)
Redirecting patrons to our remaining services (hoopla and Overdrive)
Two other important things to note: we will be making a separate announcement for the public later this quarter, and if any library has a direct link to Flipster on their website, please add a notice after October 1 that the service will be discontinued after Dec 31, 2022.
For anyone researching the background profile of a company or business, they can start with Business Source Elite from EBSCO. This helpful resource offers Company Profile reports which break down key facts, company history, key employees, major products/services, top competitors, as well as company locations & subsidiaries.
Business Insights: Essentials
To get more detailed information about a company, researchers can use Business Insights: Essentials. In addition to basic information, this resource links to academic journals, investment reports, news, and trade journals. Furthermore, it provides links to related subjects like financial data, legal issues, management and company statistics.
Morningstar Investment Research
Finally, if patrons are looking for information specific to financials and investments, a great go-to source is Morningstar Investment Research. This trusted resource provides all sorts of financial information from stock ticker data to company ratings & performance, Morningstar analyst reports, company portfolio information and so much more.
The more hours I put into the Information Services Desk at Cooper-Siegel, the more requests for academic information I field. One particular challenge spawned a wild-goose chase for a specific article from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The article, Atrial Fibrillation by Gregory F. Michaud, M.D., et al., published in 2021, was a specific request from a patron looking for medical advice. So, I cracked my knuckles and dove into the obvious ACLA resources.
My first stop was the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Research Resources page. Full of research materials, I narrowed my search to medical, specifically searching for NEJM. No dice! At this point, I knew searching for a specific and recent article from a major medical journal was going to take some serious Google Fu (desperate, skilled, and persistent online searching).
The next platform of discovery was PubMed. A long-standing, government-run database of over 34 million citations of biomedical literature. PubMed is a great resource for academic, peer-reviewed medical information, albeit anything beyond abstracts (and still, most of those…) are beyond my reckoning. Alas, another roll of the dice and coming up snake eyes on NEJM.
The third stop on this runaway academic search took me to NEJM’s website. Perhaps, beyond logic, I would be gifted with a free preview or something of the like. Unfortunately, like most academic journals, all recent publications were wrapped up tight behind a paywall or sign-up-to-get-X-articles-free account creation. Growing desperate, I turned to an old friend.
The saving grace of many an ill-fated undergraduate research paper, Google Scholar has been there to coddle the most wretched of researchers since 2004. A helpful index of millions of academic articles, Scholar also features a terribly beneficial “cited by” metric, which measures the article’s popularity and usefulness to other academics. I started with the obvious search: “Atrial Fibrillation.” Turns out, this condition is a popular research topic. Then, I tightened my search using the author’s full name and narrowing the date to 2021.
By the grace of the Israeli Association of Emergency Medicine, a file appeared. The full pdf of Atrial Fibrillation (2021)! Breathing a sigh of relief, I downloaded it and swiftly sent it off to the inquiring patron, my quest finished at last.
I wish I had some sort of explanation as to why in the world this specific article was available through this specific organization, and why it popped up on Google Scholar, but, as with all research, it is good to keep in mind: sometimes, you just get lucky.
Cameron R.S. Smith | Cooper-Siegel Community Library
P.S. If anyone has any suggestions, recommendations, or advice on how else to tackle the above conundrum or other, similar requests, I am all ears! Don’t hesitate to contact me at: email@example.com.