By Holly Hibner
I work in a medium-sized public library in Michigan, and our business reference collection has been named an official “Business Resource Center” by the Michigan Small Business Development Center. We provide business materials in a variety of formats to help business people and entrepreneurs to be successful.
Our Business Resource Center includes most core business reference titles, such as the Business Plans Handbook, Ward’s Business Directory, and Brands and Their Companies. These print titles are great when you really don’t know what you are looking for, or are just interested in one quick answer. However – full disclosure – I rarely use those reference books. Instead, I use the Gale Directory Library.
For one thing, I can search a topic in the Gale Directory Library and be rewarded with results from a variety of the same sources that I could use in print, individually. What a time saver! One search; multiple resources consulted.
For another thing, there are more titles in the Gale Directory Library than we actually do have in print. Our Business Resource Center is terrific, but it really focuses on business materials. We shelve reference books like the Encyclopedia of Associations and the Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media in a different location. They very well might be useful to business people, but the business reference shelf is only so big, so choices had to be made on what to include there!
Third, how often do business reference questions in a public library boil down to “one quick answer?” Almost never. Patrons who come to the library to do business research have Googled their “quick answers.” They come to us for the harder stuff.
All three of these reasons bring me to the Gale Directory Library database. Let’s look at an example. I mentioned recently that my husband is opening a brewery. Good news! They are making real progress and expect to open in the next few months! He and his partners have done a lot of research. They’ve learned a lot about the industry that they didn’t know before they were the industry. Did you know there is an American Society of Brewing Chemists? I didn’t either, but if you do a basic search for “brewing” in the Gale Directory library, an entry from the Encyclopedia of Associations shows it to be true. Did you also know that J. Leinenkugel Brewing Company is part of the Miller Brewing Company? To be honest, that’s less relevant to our small-town brewery, but it is interesting. The Gale Directory Library also includes Brands and Their Companies, and an entry on Leinenkugel lists not only the parent company but the SIC code as well.
Enough trivia! Let’s get down to business. I click on the advanced search option at the top of the Gale Directory Library. I chose specifically the “Business Rankings Annual” publication and searched for the keyword “breweries.” The results included the “Top Beer Companies by Volume, 2010” (From the 2013 edition of that publication. It’s Anheuser-Busch InBev, if you’re curious) and “World’s Largest Consumer Beverages Companies, 2010” (Again, 2013 edition. PepsiCo is the largest.)
Another advanced search limited to the publication “Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media” with the keyword “beer” tells us that “Ale Street News,” “Beverage Dynamics,” and “Drinks International” are all publications in the beer industry. Within each of these entries, there are hotlinks to the publication websites and linked email addresses of key personnel in those organizations.
Some key features of the Gale Directory Library include the ability to make a marked list. You can add any search result to a list by simply checking the “mark” box at the top of the entry page or to the left of the entry in a search results list. Then, narrow your screen to just your marked list. Now you have a nicely printable (or email-able) list of resources to refer back to later.
At the top of the screen is an icon labeled “People list.” This allows you to export a list of named people from within your search results, up to 50 at a time. You can also export search results to CSV files with the “Export” button. And, as with most Gale databases, you can download articles as HTML files as well.
The ability to “Infomark” an article or a list of articles is nice too. This creates a single URL that you can share, making your research effort nicely accessible to others with one click. This is a great way to refer back to your research later.
The Gale Directory Library is truly a useful database. The kinds of information held in directories often satisfies quick answers, but taken together can add up to powerful research!
See for yourself by requesting a trial today!