Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thing 17 - ELM Productivity Tools

If interlibrary loan staff thought that ELM was going to endanger their jobs, this picture of Roxanne of the Arrowhead Library System staff behind a new bigger cart of materials (right) because the old smaller cart (left) wouldn't hold everything, shows they were mistaken. And this is only the stuff delivered by the courier from Minitex. The ALS van stuff comes in later in the day.

The ELM databases have periodical articles, citation information, newspapers, and more. One I use on a daily basis is the OCLC Firstsearch database for verification of citation information sent by member school, special and academic libraries.

I know that many of the schools don't take the time to search these databases as I often find materials that they are asking for in them. We've had workshops in the past as well as webinars offered through Minitex, pushed the availability in our newsletter, and yet I think that many teachers and librarians don't think to use them. The ones who do love them and do call for help if they are having difficulty with them. I've even had teachers not allow students to use the materials in the databases because they consider them resources found on the Internet and inferior to print materials. Go figure!

NetLibrary is sometimes the only way some titles are available for some of the more specialized requests in health sciences. It is inconvenient that you must visit a public library to sign up for an account in order to use the resource even if you have a library card. And the page to sign up for an account is doesn't seem to stay in the same place and depending on how you access the Netlibrary page, it might not be there at all. Definitely a hindrance for the average user. Make it difficult enough and they won't be back. Even the librarians have trouble finding it sometimes.

That said, there are many features and ways to search these resources. You just have to be smart about what it is you are looking for in order to know what databases to search. Each database offers different resources which some users don't seem to fathom. You do have to have some technological savvy to be able to use the RSS feed feature that is part of this thing. It all depends on how you are accessing the databases and what kind of set up your ISP uses. This can be enough to defeat anyone without a lot of time to figure it out. I used a different topic to follow for a request I was working on and having difficulty finding much about. It will help me monitor when something else becomes available.