Thanks for visiting. We aren't actively blogging here anymore. Please visit us on our new site.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When you need to know - now!

A friend of mine has a favorite phrase: Give up your need to know. For librarians, however, that is almost an impossibility. My co-workers here at DPPL are already razzing me for my habit of pulling out my Sidekick in the middle of conversations in order to look up something. I can't give up my need to know!

Perhaps you are the same way - the type who can't get to sleep at night when you can't remember who sang a particular song, or won an Academy Award for a film about the Vietnam War, or if tomatoes are fruits or vegetables and also if they are part of the Nightshade family. (Botanically speaking, tomatoes are fruit; our government has classified them as a vegetable. Don't ask. According to one Website, the reasoning was that tomatoes were served as part of a meal, not dessert. Wonder what the U.S. Supreme Court thinks of chilled fruit soups? And yes, tomatoes are also Nightshade, but not deadly.)

See? I got sidetracked by my need to know. If you are like me, or, if you are a student who likes to live on the edge - meaning, you are a student who waits until 2 AM to start a research assignment that is due at 8:30 AM, DPPL is here to help. Even at 2 AM.

First of all, if you like to do your own research, just sign into our databases from your home computer. That's almost a no-brainer. Go to, click on "Online Resources," and use either the alphabetical list or our really helpful "Subject Guides" to get started on your fact-finding. These databases often provide full-text articles - meaning you can read and print the entire article immediately - from magazines, journals, newspapers, reference books and other types of resources. All you need to access them is your library card number. It's like having a topnotch library at your fingertips.

But maybe you need more than articles and facts. That's where our "Ask a Librarian" live chat service comes in. "Ask A Librarian" is provided by a consortium of Illinois libraries, including DPPL. The participating libraries provide staff so that this online service is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Click on the "Ask A Librarian" link on our home page, type in your question and get the help you need from an information professional. Try it out any time you have a question, even if it's morning or afternoon. It's especially convenient at times when you are homebound, whether due to illness, bad weather, a malfunctioning car or another of life's curve balls. You don't have to be a night owl to love "Ask A Librarian!"

Speaking of night owls, if you don't have access to the Internet and find yourself in a situation where you need reference help over the phone, don't despair even if DPPL is closed for the day. We also subscribe to the Night Owl Reference Service, and you can call them from 9 p.m. until midnight, Monday-Friday, 5 p.m. until midnight Saturday & Sunday. (Night Owl is closed for several major holidays: 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Easter and Memorial Day.) As the Night Owl people say, "...many patrons continue to prefer the speed, friendliness and comfort of using the telephone." If you are one of those patrons, make note of the Night Owl number: 847-803-3977.

One last option, because I don't want to use up all my good ideas in one post: for short and sweet answers to basic inquiries (phone numbers, movie times, weather, definitions, driving directions), another fun and free service is Google SMS. SMS stands for "short message service" - in other words, text messaging on your mobile phone. Without having a Web browser on your phone, you can text message Google at GOOGL (46645) and get answers within seconds. You do need to know the lingo in order for this service to work effectively. Here are some examples:

library 60016 -- type that in to find libraries in the Des Plaines area

pizza 60016 -- ditto for pizza places
john smith des plaines il -- directory service for Mr. Smith
movie: theaters 60016 -- movie theaters around Des Plaines
dan in real life 60016 -- movie theaters showing "Dan in Real Life"
weather 60016 -- obvious
define destiny -- when you want to know what living in the "City of Destiny" means

You get the idea. Short messages that bring back short answers. I just learned about this service and love it when I'm on the go. My Sidekick has a Web browser but often it is slow and clunky - Google SMS delivers results almost immediately.

So, don't let your questions (and assignments) keep you up at night. Use our online databases from home with your library card. Try the "Ask a Librarian" live chat service. Give the Night Owl service a call, or send a text message to Google SMS. There's no reason to give up your need to know.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to post your comments and thoughts. We love to hear from you.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.