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New Berlin Library promotes database access to all kinds of information

Jan. 7, 2014

New Berlin — New Berlin Public Library officials have declared 2014 the "Year of the Database" to make people aware of all the information they can get locally from electronically stored information.

As members of the Waukesha County Federated Library System, the New Berlin Library subscribes to about 27 databases, many of which people can access from home with their library cards.

Many of the databases to which the library subscribes includes information that comes in handy in people's lives, even on the job.

For example, a shade-tree mechanic can call up car repair information for a tricky problem even from under the car with just a hand-held device, said Natalie Beacom, an adult services librarian.

Similarly, people can evaluate major or even minor purchases before they buy by consulting the Consumer Reports database, to which the New Berlin Library only recently subscribed. The library already has the print version of Consumer Reports, Beacom said, but "there's a little more information than in the print issues and maybe it's a little more comprehensive. ... And you can do it at home."

'Unlocking the power'

The goal for The Year of the Database is high, said Dennis Sampson, library director.

"It's unlocking the power of information that is stored at the library," Sampson said.

The thrust to make people aware of the rich resources of the library databases came partly through contacts with other library officials, he said.

"In talking with other libraries we realized this is an underutilized area," Sampson said.

Part of the reason is that databases are so subtle, despite their power.

"You can't see them or feel them," Sampson said.

Promoting the effort

To bring attention to all the library's databases have to offer, the library is highlighting one database each month, including workshops on individual database resources.

January's database of the month is "Reference USA," a category that includes information on some 24 million companies — in terms of statistics, stock information, company size and growth and the growth of the industry, ownership and even available jobs.

"A lot of people job-searching use it," Beacom said.

The database recently added a jobs module to help even more, she said. With it, job-seekers can narrow their searches by profession, geography and companies within those parameters that are hiring, she said. It even lists who actually is doing the hiring, she said.

The January workshop — from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Monday — will focus on the jobs module because it is so new. No computer or Internet experience is necessary, although the workshop will move at a quick pace.

Registration is required and space is limited. Contact the adult reference desk at (262) 785-4980 for more information. A quick demonstration is available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TS-Vh7Hinw.

Advanced benefits, too

Even experienced library database users might be surprised that they can take practice ACT and SAT college entrance exams and citizenship exams, or learn computer skills in PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook, all in the Learning Express database, Beacom said. (Learning Express will be the database of the month for October.)

Transparent Language, the database of the month for March, is an interactive way to acquire quick conversational skills, Beacom said.

Those with either a New Berlin Library card or a CAFE card can access the library databases by going to the library's home page at newberlinlibrary.org. A list of the library's databases can be obtained by going to "resources for adults" and clicking on databases for adults and then on WCFLS databases.

AT A GLANCE

Each month of 2014, the New Berlin Public Library is featuring a different database available to library patrons. The library has 27 databases, many of which can be used from home, and are available anytime. Unless noted otherwise, each category is accessible for use both at home and the library:

JANUARY

Reference USA — Offering information about US? companies and offering information on which companies are hiring. (Mainly library use)

FEBRUARY

Consumer Reports — Product reviews and ratings on cars, appliances, electronics and more from Consumer Reports magazine.

MARCH

Transparent Languages Online — 80 languages with pronunciation, speech, grammar, writing and vocabulary lessons.

APRIL

Opposing View Points — Brings together information needed to fully understand an issue: pro and con viewpoint articles, reference articles that provide context, full-text magazines, academic journals, and newspapers, primary-source documents, government and organizational statistics, multimedia, including images and podcasts, and links to hand-selected websites.

MAY

Morningstar — Follows stocks and mutual funds and offers a chance to research current or prospective finanical holdings.

JUNE

Newsbank/Badgerlink Newspaper Resources — Includes Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage since Jan. 22, 1990.

JULY

Novelist/NovelistPlus — Includes more than 200,000 fiction and nonfiction books, more than 60,000 fiction books aimed young readers, lists of award-winning books, book discussion guides, book talks and recommended reads.

AUGUST

Badgerlink — Full-text access to millions of articles from magazines, journals, newspapers, encyclopedias, and more. Topics include current news, business, education, health, history, literature and science. BadgerLink also features other full-text resources, such as auto repair manuals and resources for students and teachers, that are not available through regular Internet search engines.

SEPTEMBER

Britannica — Level-appropriate reference articles, journals and magazines, the Web's Best Sites, multimedia, and curriculum content.

OCTOBER

Learning Express Library — Offers practice tests, exercises, skill-building courses and other information. Practice tests include SAT and ACT. The Computer Skills Learning Center includes interactive courses on MicroSoft Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word. The Learning Center has information for job seekers.

NOVEMBER

Overdrive — A growing collection of downloadable fiction and nonfiction titles in audio and electronic format. They can be read or listened to from the computer or a compatible portable device.

DECEMBER

Ancestry and Heritage Quest — A comprehensive online source of information for conducting genealogical and local history research. (Library-use only)

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