Fri, Feb. 28

Libraries offer toll free access to info superhighway

Conventional wisdom is often neither.

When radio came on the scene, it was said to be the end of newspapers. When television showed up, radio was declared dead.

As for the Internet, it was going to lead all other forms of communication off the back roads and out onto the information superhighway.

Newspapers, radio, television, public libraries and personal interaction were declared too slow for the fast lane and were said to be headed for the scrap heap. With the possible exception of the latter, none of the above has come to pass.

Newspapers now own radio stations, and radio stations own television networks. And they all have Web sites.

What was predicted to be a winner-take-all, scorched earth transition has become symbiotic, with one form complementing the other.

But perhaps no information medium has benefited from the advent of the Internet as much as the public library.

The Internet, at least the one we all access for free from our homes, has information on just about any subject one would want to know about.

But it does not have all the information there is to be had. Much of the really good stuff is locked up in commercial databases.

Historical documents, scholarly journals, demographic information and archives of magazine and newspaper articles, among other bits of knowledge, are not readily available online unless someone is willing to subscribe to the databases that provide it.

Signing up for all the ones that may be of interest can get expensive.

But over the last 10 years, public libraries have begun offering access to these commercial database collections for free to their patrons.

Yavapai County Library Network is no exception.

With a library card, a patron can access online information on a wide variety of subjects for all age groups from their home computer simply by connecting through any community library Web site.

Among the databases that are free to card carrying members of the Yavapai Library Network are:

• EBSCOHost; Full text articles and abstracts from around 700 journals. A wide variety of subjects are covered on a general level.

• WorldCat OCLC First Search: A collection of indexes and databases on many topics.

• Ebooks; Access to electronic books downloadable for a short amount of time

• Searchasaurus: A collection of research tools for children. 

• Arizona State Library and Public Records: This is a huge collection of databases offered through the State of Arizona that includes encyclopedias, a legal database, medical and scholarly journals, newspapers from around the e world, business information and demographics to name just a few.

There are other databases available through the area colleges, Yavapai College, Prescott College and Embry Riddle.

Remote access to the colleges' databases is available only for registered students. However, the public can visit the college libraries and access them through on site computer terminals.

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