Monday, January 18, 2010

I Love the Library

And you should too. If you read our blog, you're probably already a fan of libraries. But, do you know what the Austin Public Library can offer you? There is a long list of things the library provides other than just books, and here are just a few.

1. Well, obviously, other than books, we have magazines and journals too. Sometimes, you just want to sit down and look at a People magazine and zone out. Or, you're looking for that recipe your mother told you to find in Southern Living. There are also lots of crafty magazines, I, personally, love looking at them all. Maybe, to save some money, you canceled your subscriptions but still want to read your favorites, come to the Library. You can do a search for your favorite magazine or journal here. You'd be surprised at the selection of titles we have.

2. One of my go-to links on the Library's homepage is the "Research Tools", especially the "Research Guides". The reference librarians at Austin Public Library have worked tirelessly to put together some very special tools to help you in your research. There are guides for those who are trying to open up their own business, discover copyright issues, to guides on how to find reliable health information and literary criticism.

3. If you have a library card with us and know that UT or the San Antonio Public Library has a book you want to check out, you can get a Texshare card and go to those libraries, among many other hundreds of Texas libraries, and check it out! The Texshare program is a fabulous way to take advantage of the availability of materials that other libraries in Texas have. It's free and all you need is a library card with us.

4. Interlibrary loan. This program is older than I am and is still a great way to get very special items, or those not so special items. If you're looking for a small-town newspaper that isn't published anymore, but the library in Kalamazoo has it on microfilm, you can request that film through interlibrary loan (ILL). You can get anything you want through the ILL department, just ask.

5. Music. You won't believe what we've got at the library music department. We've got CDs and LPs you haven't seen or heard in years right along with all that new stuff. From Animal Collective and Lady Gaga to the Beatles and Frank Sinatra. If you know what you're looking for search our catalog and select "music on CD" or "vinyl record" in the material format drop down box. If you just want to browse, head to any Austin Public Library and check out the music section. CDs are everywhere, but the collection of LPs are the largest at Central.

6. My favorite part of the library: the databases. Our databases make the library a billion times bigger than what's in the brick-and-mortar buildings (maybe a slight exaggeration, but pretty close). Along with the typical newspaper and journal articles, you can find anything from your great aunt's phone number in Philly (ReferenceUSA) to a biography on the father of baseball, James Naismith (Biography Resource Center). You can get the repair diagrams for almost all makes and models of cars in the Chilton Library; look up family history from our list of genealogy databases; and get that final primary resource for your paper that's due tomorrow from our list of primary sources databases! And an always popular request for those who are needing a little help with tests, our test preparation databases. There are so many databases, it could make your head spin. So, browse through the subject guide and see what you can discover. You can look at almost all of these databases from home with your library card!

7. Finally, just ask. The reference librarians are just sitting and waiting for you to ask a question. Well, not really, we're doing lots of other things too, but our favorite is to help you find the answers. We can talk to you in person, over the phone, via email, we even chat! Don't be afraid, we're here to help you. If we don't know the answer, you can bet we can find out who does.

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