In Your Own Backyard

Remember this one? “If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, does make noise”?  There’s a library corollary to that; “If we invest in really great resources, and no one knows about them, are they really valuable?”

This question has probably been of concern to libraries for as long as there have been libraries.  If the concern was first about facilities and reference collections, today it’s about electronic resources and databases as well.  Do you really know what it is we have that can make your information seeking, your job search, and your student’s assignment that much easier?

Take a look at our Databases page to see, it’s pretty comprehensive.  We have the arts, business, technology, controversial issues, grants (but you need to use them in-house at the library,) genealogy and more.  Let’s start simple and work our way up a little.  This won’t be an all-inclusive journey but rather a sampling, a mezze platter if you will of quality reputable resources available to you gratis – because you have a library card from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  You can use all of them here, at the library, at your branch library, or you can use most of them on your own PC (or Mac,) wherever you happen to be (with your valid library card.)

For general history and ‘current’ events (when they were current) take a look at Readers’ Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 from HW Wilson.  If you’re at home, you’ll need your CLP library card number, and you will need to select Readers’ Guide Retrospective from the available choices.  You can search an event, place, or people across whatever time period they occupied during the 92 years this database covers.  It beats having to use the printed Reader’s Guide to search year by year by year.  Once you have the citation, the article may be available here on microfilm or in hard copy.  We also have the follow-on OmniFile Mega by Wilson that continues from 1982, and has full-text beginning in 1995.

Don’t forget MasterFILE Premier from Ebsco.  That’s the popular database that we had, lost when the State Library’s budget was reduced, and was picked up again this year by ACLA.  “MasterFile Premier contains full text for nearly 1,700 periodicals covering general reference, business, health, education, general science, multicultural issues and much more. This database also contains full text more than 500 reference books, over 107,000 primary source documents, and an Image Collection of over 510,000 photos, maps & flags.”

For unparalleled information about authors, writing, genres and literary periods, you can’t be without Gale’s Literature Criticism Online and Literary Resource Center. Literature Criticism Online is a massive work based on the Gale’s multi hundred volume print set available at Main Library.  LCO has more than 200,000 PDF essays and commentaries on literature from the Middle Ages to today, from Amos Oz to Herman Wouk.  Literary Resource Center borrows some materials from the Gale literature sets, but also has current web based analysis and reviews from contemporary sources such as the New Yorker, Harvard Review and even transcripts of “All Things Considered”.

Finally (for now,) there’s the Testing & Education Reference Center.  Need to prep for the LSAT, ASVAB or the GED?  This is the resource for you, online with test results.  You do need to register and sign-in, but that takes 20 seconds.

I’ve barely touched on what we have to offer, but these resources are revolutionary in their approach.  These tools are where you are; when you want them. You’re not restricted to where the print copies are (or if there are,) or to when we’re open.  And you don’t need to wait for the red headed kid who got there first to finish.

- Richard

1 Comment

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One response to “In Your Own Backyard

  1. Wouldn’t it be nice if Google worked better with libraries & librarians and promoted local libraries’ databases (if Google could only take them so far into their research)? You know, something like, “Didn’t find what you wanted? Try your local library’s ___ databases.” I know, I’m dreaming.

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