Thursday, November 12, 2015

BPL Databases—Finding Treasure in Plain Sight

Have you ever been walking along and suddenly looked down to find money on the ground in front of you? Remember that feeling of elation and happy surprise? Isn’t it wonderful to find something valuable that costs you nothing?

Want that feeling right now? Here’s just how to do that:

Go to www.bplonline.org.


Look at the black bar across the top, find Databases, and left-click on the word one time.

The second line under Databases reads Database Quick Links. It has a drop-down menu. Left-click once on the down arrow.


This will open an entire world of free, accurate, and current information to you. You’ll see an alphabetical listing of almost 200 destinations. Some of these are digital collections of photos. Some are subscription databases that the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) pays for so you get them free. Some are websites that librarians have vetted for authentic, accurate, and current information. Most of them can be accessed from any Internet with your library card. A few can only be accessed in a public library, but ALL are free to library members. Why would you pay for something you can get free through your library?

Do you need to prepare for the ASVAB, ACT, SAT, or an occupational test? Drop down to LearningExpressLibrary. Need to learn about your computer operating system, or Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Publisher? Go to the computer skills module under LearningExpressLibrary.

Did your child inform you late on Sunday evening that they have a research paper due on Monday morning? Drop down to History in Context, Literature Resource Center, Science in Context, or Opposing Viewpoints—or any of a dozen periodical indices like Academic Search Premier, InfoTrac, or General OneFile.


Did you receive a diagnosis from your doctor, but need more information on what it is, how it is treated, and how to live with it? Drop down to MedlinePlus.Gov, Health and Wellness Resource Center, or Health Source: Consumer Edition.

Are you thinking about starting a business, ending a marriage, or making a will? Drop down to Alabama Legal Forms to find a necessary form, access legal definitions, or find legal FAQs. If it’s starting a business, don’t forget to drop down to Business Plans Handbook for a sample business plan for you business, or to Mergent Online for industry and competition information.



Want to try your hand at investing? Drop down to the Financial Ratings Series Online database, Mergent Online, and Morningstar for all the information you need to research stocks, financial institutions, insurers, and mutual funds.

But wait a minute! Aren’t some of these websites expensive, or don’t you have to subscribe to them? Yes, they are, and yes, you do—but BPL has subscribed and paid for them for library members, so if you have a card in good standing, they’re free to you!

For more information about…well, just about anything…contact your local Birmingham Public Library, and definitely check out the website to see everything we have to offer.

Birmingham Public Library. Preserving the Past, Exploring the Future.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

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