Sunday, July 22, 2012

BPL Databases Provide Credible Sources

Britannica Online Academic Edition

Students, scholars, and surfers of the Web can access databases at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) to satisfy their research or quench their curiosity. These resources, which run the array from classic reference resources such as the Encyclopedia Britannica to Yearbooks form Jones Valley High School in the Powderly community, have been carefully selected by librarians at the BPL.

Unlike the search engines, blogs, and collaboratively written information on the Internet, the databases offered by BPL are authoritative and credible sources written and compiled by experts in their respective fields and topics. They are unbiased, objective, and thoroughly researched.

The Pew Research Center (PRC) released an 80-page report on June 22 of this year detailing findings of their research on current trends with libraries, patrons, and e-books. PRC, a nonpartisan “fact tank” providing data on current American issues and trends, noted patron use of various library resources, including databases. They found that “very little of the research was accessed or used on e-readers or tablet computers.”

Main findings included that “one in five those 16 and older (22%) accessed specialized databases, such as legal or public records in the year prior to the survey.” Furthermore, the report revealed that “African-Americans are generally more likely than other ethnic groups to make use of these services at libraries especially accessing newspapers or news articles and accessing specialized databases such as legal or public records.”

The report added that those with at least some college education are generally more likely to use these services than those with lower levels of education. Interestingly, the data also revealed that “those with the lowest household incomes are generally more likely to use these services than those with the highest household incomes.”

The BPL database can be accessed by clicking on the “Databases” link located on the upper right hand of the BPL home page or by going directly to http://www.bplonline.org/virtual/databases/.

The database page on the BPL site also allows patrons to access e-journals and subject guides, a resource compiled and created by BPL librarians and staff to further supplement one’s research. All databases are accessible at the Central location or at local BPL branches. Some can also be accessed offsite. Just look for “Remote Access Available” at the end of the database description.

For more information on BPL’s databases, you can go to the Databases FAQ sheet. You must have a current and active library account to access these resources.

Farah A. Ferguson
Business, Science, and Technology Department
Central Branch

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