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Libraries stuffed full of resources

But majority of users dont know about the alternative library of digital resources


by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Several people make use of the bank of Internet access computers, available for use free inside the Sandy Public Library, where online resources seem unlimited.One of the best-kept secrets in Sandy and the mountain villages is the breadth and depth of information that is untapped and unknown to too many library patrons.

Library Director Beth Scarth says she is constantly amazed at the types of resources that can be accessed without even picking up a book.

Setting aside the way the adult generation learned and looked for information, the younger generation has a wealth of assistance at their fingertips through computers, tablets or smart phones.

Both Scarth and Reference Librarian Kathleen Draine say it is a shame that the library purchases such a vast array of online materials that aren’t used very much.

“A surprising number of people don‘t even know that libraries are providing this format to the public free,” Draine said. “It’s free because our tax dollars have paid for it, in just the same way the rest of our collection is purchased.”

Information gleaned by the Pew Research Center, a fact tank in Washington, D.C., showed that 62 percent of the people surveyed did not know if their library loaned e-books or other digital resources.

The fact these resources aren’t used to their potential is not because they are irrelevant. It’s because they are not known by the majority of library users.

“The community knows about our brick and mortar library,” Draine said, “and they know about our easy Internet access. But I think we have been unsuccessful in telling them there’s a duplicate library — a digital library.”

The resources of this digital library must be accessed first with an Internet connection — either at a library or at a private home. From that point there are two types of information: downloadable to a personal electronic device and instantly readable. The latter can be copied and saved or printed, but that is a separate process from accessing the information on the Internet.

Library staff members conduct extensive research on the quality and reliability of potential digital offerings before they are purchased and added to the library’s digital resources.

Draine says the reliability of the information available to Sandy and Hoodland library cardholders is almost guaranteed because of the reputation, history, record of service and ease of access of each Internet service.

For example, parents of one or two generations in the past would buy a set of encyclopedias, which would likely answer most questions.

But those books were out of date soon after they were printed and required time to locate specific information.

An example from at least three dozen sources of information at the Sandy library is the World Book Online for public libraries, which offers information at several levels such as pre-school, beginning readers, kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade and the ever-popular World Book Web encyclopedia and atlas.

Among some of the other digital resources at Sandy are Culture Grams, information about countries and states for both kids and adults; the Gale Virtual Reference Library, a multi-volume reference library; a health and wellness resource center; a nursing resource center; information on stocks, mutual funds and ETFs from Morningstar; a business economics and theory collection; a Gale multimedia reference library that includes reference books, articles and primary documents as well as video and audio clips on topics such as biographies, U.S. history, science, global environment and opposing viewpoints. There also are resources written in Spanish.

In addition, there are references of general interest such as fiction and nonfiction books for high school and adult readers; auto repairs and wiring diagrams for many models; LiveMocha, which offers learning in nearly 40 different languages; Consumer Reports, with definitive research on what’s new on the market; Heritage Quest, with genealogy data; Learning Express, which is an invaluable resource before anyone takes standardized tests; and a lot of general information in periodicals and popular newspapers.

Draine says the library is buying fewer print reference books, and is spending more on digital resources, which is kept up to date — unlike printed material.

Draine emphasizes that the library is an entire system of information that she described as a “marriage of print and digital resources.”

For more information, call 503-668-5537, visit lincc.org and click on “online resources” in the upper right of the home page or send email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..