Libraries in the Digital Age: How Electronic Libraries Can Help You
It used to be that doing research for school or work involved going to a library and tracking down books, academic journals and other print resources. Times have definitely changed. Today, an impressive amount of information is available with only a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. Learn more about online libraries and research below.
Libraries Embrace the Technological Revolution
Librarians are well reputed to love books, but that hasn't stopped them from embracing new sources of information. On the contrary, today's libraries are on the forefront of delivering new media content to patrons. These innovative services are so well developed that research can now often be completed with nothing more than a library card and computer.
Today's libraries are virtual learning centers, which means the concept of the library exists as much online as it does in the brick-and-mortar sense. The websites of libraries not only catalog physical collections but also feature digital content and services unavailable in any other format. For example, the majority of national libraries now provide ebooks for download to patrons. Digital newspaper subscriptions are another way in which libraries make content available online.
In no other arena are the electronic capabilities of libraries more exciting than in academic institutions. These libraries feature academic databases, scholarly journals and other electronic sources of information that students can access from their personal computers. As time passes, more publications are going to a publishing model where only an electronic version is produced, which means that online services will only grow as a priority for academic libraries.
Services Beyond Sources
The online offerings of today's libraries are not limited to ebooks, electronic journals and other content. Often libraries also feature patron services on the Internet. Many allow patrons to email questions or chat online with a librarian about research challenges. Above all else, librarians are information experts who can assist with identifying information sources of all kinds, no matter what format they might be published in.
In addition to providing individualized advice from a librarian, many libraries feature other online tools designed to assist students and professionals. For example, some provide research tutorials, including information that can be used to help establish the reliability of online sources. Many libraries also have programs that allow you to stay on top of sourcing by creating footnotes and bibliographies online.
While being a student at a college or having a library card can provide access to a lot of great resources, access to some information sources is not restricted to select individuals. Many academic databases, including Google Scholar and Academic Search can be accessed by anyone. Other discipline-specific databases and journals may be found with a simple keyword search. Just be sure that electronic libraries you access are providing trustworthy information. If there is any question, you might email or chat with a librarian.