Corrections or additions?

This article by Henry McInnes Adams was prepared for the October

25, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Electronic Guide To Periodicals

Surfing the Internet can be a

catch-as-catch-can research endeavor. Just when you find the article

you need, you discover it is no longer available on the Web. Solution:

try the professionally organized electronic databases. Some cost

money, some are free for cardholders in the public library system.

For instance, if you have a library card in any town you

can use the EBSCO databases, with their full texts of periodicals and

documents. These databases were installed on the web pages of all the

libraries in the state last summer. A deal is under way to add four

major newspapers to all library web pages as well. Search here, and

you will find the article always available and for the right price,

free.

The New Jersey State Library has a $500,000 contract for

the full-text EBSCO reference databases to be available to library

card

holders

statewide. EBSCO belongs to an Alabama-based conglomerate

with 4,000

employees, and it is named after its founder, Elton B.

Stephens, who

sold magazines to pay his way through law school in the

1930s. It

has more than 50 years of experience helping libraries and

other public

and private organizations obtain information from the

company’s network

of databases.

The contract, says Jack Livingstone, the state

librarian, lets

the state library "level the playing field" for

all libraries

across the state. "We can now `wire’ even the

lowest-budget libraries

so that all library card holders can have access to

EBSCO’s enormous

resources," he says.

A graduate of Temple, Class of 1949, Livingston has a

graduate degree

from Drexel and was director of the Monmouth County

libraries. Three

years after retiring he came out of retirement to take the

state librarian’s

job, first as an interim, then as permanent. After five

years he is

retiring again in the middle of November.

Livingstone is proud of what’s been done so far. "Let

me tell

you about the Irvington Public Library," he says.

"It’s in

a township that’s almost bankrupt. The library director

didn’t have

a hope of become computerized. When I heard about the

situation I

contacted her and promised it would not cost her

anything."

"We cabled her entire three-story building with the

help of 30

volunteers, three personnel from the state library, and

free cabling

provided by Bell Atlantic (now Verizon). Irvington Library

now has

what every other library in the state has: patron access

to the EBSCO

Host system." Pennington Public Library, which is

outside the

main county systems, has been similarly wired, though it

still has

a paper catalog.

To move libraries into the cyber century, Livingston

developed a "hub"

system. "By developing the hub system we take

financially strong

libraries across the state (supplemented with state money)

to give

online access to libraries with tiny budgets or limited

resources,"

he says. That can save smaller libraries across the state

a combined

amount of $1 million a year in Internet Service Provider

charges.

The contract with EBSCO pays for every elementary, middle

and high

school library, and all non-profit and public libraries in

New Jersey

to gain access to all four, separate, age-specific

databases: elementary,

middle, high school and general. The same access would

have cost individual

schools and libraries a total of $2.5 to $3 million.

Here’s what just the EBSCO news service subscription

contains:

Issue and Controversies on File, which covers

all relevant

issues of the day.

Today’s Science on File, which includes the

latest science

news in language understandable by almost anyone.

Editorials on File, which has full-text

newspaper editorials

on key events of the past 20 years.

Funk and Wagnall’s New Encyclopedia, the full

text that

contains profiles on every country of the world.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts, both of

which are

classic sources of reference information on statistical

data and historic

events.

MasterFile Premier, full text for nearly 1,840

periodicals

covering nearly all subjects.

Business Source Plus, full text for nearly all

260 journals

devoted to business, management, economics, finance,

banking, investment.

Clinical Reference System, more than 7,000

reports, in

user-friendly language, describing symptoms, diagnoses,

treatments,

risks and the after effects of medications.

Newspaper Source, selected full-text articles

from 154

United States and international newspapers.

Also MasterFile Elite, full text of nearly

1,220 periodicals

on most subjects); MAS FullTEXT Ultra (570 general

interest

and current events magazines); and Middle Search

Plus (110 magazines

appropriate for middle and high school students).

For personal use, there is a comfort factor for

parents: Because

EBSCO Host databases are age-specific, elementary school

students

can access the ones designed for their needs, and neither

parents

nor school teachers need be concerned that grade-school

kids will

stumble onto adult Internet sites or inadvertently join

adult chat

rooms. EBSCO databases are not designed for higher

education users;

there are other databases for colleges and universities.

The state library also has a Spanish language database on

its web

page, and it is also making available another resource

called "Novelist,"

a reader’s survey database with library sources for old

and new books

and book reviews.

To access these resources, go to your public library’s

website. For

anywhere in Mercer County, try www.mcl.org or, for

Middlesex County,

try www.lmxac.org and go to the Reference Resources Link.

Click on

the EBSCO Host icon on the right side of the screen. Click

on that

to access the Login Page. Then enter your Patron ID —

that’s your

14-digit bar code number from your library card. Call your

library

if you need help. If it is closed, use the E-mail

Reference Service

on the "Reference Resources" page to contact a

professional

librarian somewhere who will offer the help you need.

Companies bidding on the contract won by EBSCO included

Gale and UMI.

"We said to them all, we have $500,000, so what can

you give us.

They all kept coming back upping what they would

offer," says

Livingston. He is working with Gale to add four major

newspapers —

Bergen Record, NYT, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer

— to

the all-library databases for $150,000 a year, for the

public libraries

that go through the state library’s hub.


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