Week 7: Electronic Reference Resources


Electronic Reference Resources

We will explore the various types of electronic reference resources and how they may best be used. For a thorough grounding in the subject, watch Electronic Databases video/slide show by Camille Fiorillo at the PAC Library. The slide show is no longer in use and so is difficult to view. Hold your cursor over each successive slide at the bottom of the screen and it will appear in the larger box in the middle. If I ever find an equivalent video or slide show I shall replace this one.

Electronic Reference

The library provides electronic reference services in a variety of ways:

1. By acquiring and making available indexes and abstracts, reference books and journals in electronic format.

2. By identifying and providing access to free materials and services on the Internet.

3. By providing workstations, usually with print capabilities for accessing electronic information.

Information in electronic format is available in a variety of forms--radio, television, video cassette, CD-ROM, DVD, e-books, e-journals, databases, etc. The kind of information available in electronic format includes bibliographic information such as descriptions of books, periodical articles and other literary works, the full text of periodicals, books and reports and illustrative materials such as maps and photographs.

Following are descriptions of some of the various electronic sources:

1. Online catalog--also known as the OPAC (online public access catalog). This is a computerized version of the traditional card catalog. It lists all the items housed in the library or made available remotely through the Internet. The records are created in machine readable format and are accessible by computer both within and beyond the library walls.

2. Online database--is a term used to describe information that is stored in a computer and retrieved by other computers through telephone lines and communication networks. There are thousands of online databases, providing nearly every type of information, both bibliographic and full test.

3. Internet--is a global telecommunications network that links computers together by a unique IP(Internet Protocol) address, and that allows for the free exchange of information among them. The Internet contains all types of information such as online catalogs, electronic journals, periodical databases, personal messages and any information that is computer generated. NB: because of the open source nature of the Internet, all information has to be considered suspect. Re-verify such information in a print source if possible.

4. CD-ROM-(Compact Disk, Read Only Memory)--is a small, plastic coated optical disk on which information is stored. One disk is equal in contents to approximately 250,000 printed pages. There are thousands of CD-ROM databases available. These include indexes, census data, corporation records, encyclopedias, government documents, statistics, maps, journal back files and other literary works.

5. DVD-(Digital Versital Disk, or Digital Video Disk) is similar to a CD-ROM, except that it holds much more information--all the way up to 17 GB or enough for a full length movie.

6. USB Flash Drive, or thumb drive colloquially, can store as much information as a hard drive.


Internet Exercise

I. URLS (Web Address/Location)

Type in the following web addresses and give the information requested:

      A. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_name
      ... Find an example of a domain name.

      B. www.theawfultruth.com
      ... Whose website is this?

      C. http://www.navarrocollege.edu/library/about/ten-good-reasons/
      ... List one of the 10 reasons.


P C. Click on E-books, then click on Books Online, then on Online Children's Stories (Calgary), then on Writings by Children, and then on Stone Soup, then on Art Section, then on International Collection, then on Russia and Lithuania.

... Who painted "Running for the Bus"? Where is the artist from? How old is the artist? What is the art medium used?

F. Use the Yahoo subject directory and click through the menu until you find a website about hybrid electric cars. ... What path did you follow to get to this subject?


From the PAC Learning Resources Center homepage, click on Web Search Engines.

A. Click on Google and type in a topic. ... How many "hits" did you get? (Look at the blue bar near the top of the page). What is the first website listed?

B. Click on another Keyword Search Engine and type in the same topic. ... How many "hits" did you get? What is the first website listed?

C. Contrast and compare the search engines you used in A and B. ... Which one is better? Why?

D. Click on one of the Specialized Search Engines. ... What kind of information does this search engine retrieve?

E. Perform an Internet search using one of the techniques listed on Google Seach Tips.
... What results did you get?


Database Exercise

Use the Ozuna Learning Resource Center web link on your homepage. Go to "Find Journal Article - databases by topic." Select Academic Search Complete. Put in the topic of Panda Bears, but also click on full text and Scholarly Journals. Go to number 1 (one) on the list of articles, click on pdf and read the article. Tell me something you think is interesting in the article. Give me the name of the article, the name of the journal it came from and the date. Enter your answer in the Discussions area of Canvas.


Please Review the following materials:

Bexar County's Paperless Library (first in the country) note the Databases list

Best Databses 2012

Scholarly vs. Popular Materials

Journals vs. Magazines

Journal vs. Magazines note at the end the discussion of how to differentiate peer-reviewed articles

Don't forget to take the quiz. (Go to Canvas in ACES.)

Colby Glass, MLIS, Professor Emeritus