Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Saving Money: Using the Resources at Your Library

We all know now the gloomy news: the American economy is in a downturn of historic proportions which may not recover until late in 2010. Even with the anticipated stimulus package, we are in for a long haul.

At a recent staff meeting I asked my staff how the library could really assist people during this time. We know that libraries can save people money by just borrowing rather than buying your books and other resources. But, there are other services that people may not think about, which can save them money too.

We can look at the resources and services that the library provides and what these do to getting you through the tough times. Remember the phrase from the 1980’s: libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.

Future posts on this blog may discuss using the library's collection of cookbooks to make gourmet meals at home, or new resources on hobbies and crafts, DYI (do-it-yourself) home decorating, home improvement, and auto repair; new books and other resources on saving energy; or planning budget travel and vacations. We have great resources at the library. All are free with your library card.

Here is an entry on the resources available through the Vermont Online Library. The VOL as it is commonly known in the Vermont library world is an online database of full-text magazine articles available on just about any topic that you might like to search.

The VOL includes a selection of more than 25 databases of magazines and other resources, which can be accessed through the Brooks Memorial Library’s web site with your library card number. That number is on the of your red library card and begins with the sequence 21791.

The two main magazine databases are General OneFile and Academic OneFile. Both of these databases contain millions of articles that may be read or printed from the screen. Let’s consider General One File database, which has over 14,000 magazines and journals, over 4,000 of which are actually full-text. Here is a microscopic portion of some of the titles whose current issues and backfiles are available from General OneFile database. I am sure you will recognize and probably have you own subscriptions to some of these: Atlantic, Business Week, Audubon, Backpacker, Baseball Digest, Bicycling, Biography, Current Biography, Boys' Life, Bowhunter, Cat Watch, ChildArt, Christianity Today, Consumer Reports, etc. All of these titles-any many more--can be read online without you paying a cent for access.

Now, how can the library save you money on your magazine subscriptions by using one of these databases. The secret is: learn how to create a magazine alert when a new issue arrives.. Let’s say you have a subscription to Consumer Reports. You want to be able to keep this subscription, but alas, you need to pinch some pennies during this current economic crisis, so you decide to read the “free” version of this magazine online, so how do you get this magazine delivered to your electronic doorstep each month.

I have prepared a short video on how to do it using a Flip video. Watch it here, or read the instructions down the page.

Go to www.brooks.lib.vt.us, and click on “Resources’ button. Click on “Databases listed alphabetically by Title”, then click on “General Onefile.” You will be presented with a screen where you need to enter your 14 digit library card number. After you have done that Gale Engage Learning, the vendor for the database, will allow you to access the system. At the top of the screen click on “publication search”. You will then be brought to another page. At the “Find” search box, type in Consumer Reports, and click the Search button. You will be presented with five choices. Click on the top one, which is “Consumer Reports.” Now to the right of the screen you will see the RSS feed icon, which says “create a journal alert.” A popup window—make sure you have popup windows allowed for this web site—will open asking you for your: 1. email address, 2. title for the alert. 3. how often you would like the information emailed to you. There, you are done. Each month you will get the new Consumer Reports magazine emailed to you with a list of its table of contents. You can unsubscribe at any time to this newly created alert.

That’s all it is to it. Hope this posting helps you get the magazine alert you want.