Monday, May 9, 2016

"Getting the Facts at Your Library" | @ the Library Article

The staff at the Abilene Public Library continues to respond to more than 2,000 reference questions each month.  Received in person, by phone or electronically, the questions are testimony to the fact that many people realize simply "Googling" information is not always reliable or comprehensive.

Far beyond merely a general Internet search, the professional librarians at APL have access to a wide range of print and electronic reference resources and the know-how to make full use of them.  These resources also generally are available to library patrons with or without librarian assistance.

In the print collection, reference materials do not circulate; thus they are always available.

Medical and law-related questions are among the most common.  An excellent print source is the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, a 9-volume set published in 2015.  Among other medical resources are six databases to which the library subscribes.  These databases include full-text articles from current editions of reputable medical journals and are accessible from any PC or handheld device for library cardholders.

Among an extensive collection of law resources are a complete set of Texas Codes Annotated, including civil statutes and code of criminal procedures.  Many requests for law forms can be satisfied with our Texas Legal Forms database.

Several times each week, library patrons ask for vehicle repair manuals.  Though many can be checked out, the main library has, in our reference section, repair manuals for autos from 1940 to the present and for trucks and vans from 1961 to the current year.  We also offer a vehicle repair database - the Chilton Online Automotive Repair Manuals.

Consumer product information can be researched from issues of Consumer Reports of the Consumer Reports Buying Guide 2016 available in print at the main library or online, including the most current issues in the Academic Search Complete database.

Those searching for a new or used vehicle will find the Consumer Reports Buying Guide 2016 or the Consumer Reports Used Car Buying Guide most helpful.  Those wishing to buy or sell used vehicles also make frequent use of our NADA or Kelley Blue Book guides to determine the approximate values of used vehicles.  We also have the Collector Car Price Guide 2016.

An indispensable resource for Texas topics, history in particular, is our 6-volume "The New Handbook of Texas," also available online in a condensed version.  Obscure facts about Texas towns, Texans, or Texas history often can be found only in this resource.  Additionally, we have databases for Abilene, area or Texas history, including the West Texas Digital Archives and the Texas Digital Sanborn Maps.

"Headquarters USA 2016" is a 2-volume resource with more than 128,000 entries listing information on businesses, organizations, agencies, and institutions in the U.S. by name and by subject - with addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and more.

Those seeking grants for nonprofit organizations may want to use The Directory of Texas Foundations; those seeking grants for individuals may consult Foundation Grants to Individuals.  Investors can use either the print version of Value Line or the online version of Morningstar.

Although most of the above-named resources are available at the main library, our branches do carry a limited print collection of reference materials.  Among the most utilized are Consumer Reports buying guides.  Staff at both branches also rely on a number of online resources to respond to reference questions.

There are countless additional print and online reference resources available to library patrons.  What's been mentioned here is but the tip of the iceberg.  Information services professionals are eager to assist with your information needs at any of our three locations, or you can call the main library at 325-676-6025 during the library's hours of operation.

Article Contributed by Dennis Miller, Information Services Librarian at the Main Branch of the Abilene Public Library

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