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Friday, January 7, 2011

Super-Amazing Looker-Uppers!

No, I haven't had too much caffeine today. It's just this: we subscribe to some great online services, but if I titled this, "New online library databases," would you care? Probably not. If libraries need anything, we need a jazzier script. So, I am renaming these tools the "Super-Amazing Looker-Uppers," at least for today. People often think, "Well, everything's available on the Internet, right?" Nope. Try searching on the Tribune Web site for an article from 1990. First of all, good luck finding where to enter your search. Secondly, if you find and want that article, it will cost you, in some cases as much as $124.95. Another scenario that I'm sure NEVER happens in Des Plaines: your child neglects to gather resources for a school project. Project's due tomorrow. Library's closed. Teacher says, "No free Web sites." You need THE SUPER-AMAZING LOOKER-UPPERS!

Here are just a few examples.

Example 1: Master File Premier. Puts the full-text of articles, speeches, TV transcripts, etc. from almost 1,700 sources at your fingertips. Your child comes home from school and says, "I need to do a report on the Gulf oil spill and my teacher says I can't use Web sites." Sit down, go to this online resource, type in "gulf oil spill," limit your results to full-text and the last 12 months - you'll have over 573 quality resources right there, in an instant. You don't have to leave the living room or wade through pages of advertising and junk sites on Google.

Example 2: LexisNexis Library Express. If you've done research in a college or university library in the last 20 years, you may know of LexisNexis - this is the public library version, featuring 30 years of news coverage from recognized global sources, company/corporate research resources and superior legal information including case law, statutes, codes, and regulations (one caveat: you must be in the library to access the legal information).

Example 3: Primary Search.  Your fourth grader is still crazy about dinosaurs and wants to write his first big school paper on that topic but he can't use those fun picture books you have at home. Click into Primary Search, search for dinosaurs and you'll get short, easy-to-understand articles, book chapters, even pictures, to make his report worthy of an A+ - even if it's Sunday night at 8 PM and we are closed for the day.

If you're still not convinced, look over the complete list of resources we have for adults, teens and children: Adult list with complete descriptions
Teen list with descriptions
Children's list of Online Resources

Keep in mind, you need a valid DPPL card to use these resources if you are not here in the library, so why not make getting/updating your card a New Year's resolution? Just another reason that library cards are the best deal in town. The next time you need to know, try our diverse collection of online library databases, aka the Super-Amazing Looker-Uppers!


  1. I have a Chicago public library card that I use to check out books and movies at DPPL. It didn't work for accessing the online databases. Do I need to obtain a different card?

  2. MVS, the companies that provide the databases require us to obtain authentication from users in order to be sure we provide access only to users from our own library. Your Chicago public libraru card will give you access to CPL's extensive list of databases, which can be found at this Web page:
    Or Google search Chicago Public Library, click "Databses A to Z."
    CPL does not have all the same databases that we have, but the Proquest databases there will be very comparable to the the ones I mentioned in the blog.


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