Published February 9, 2016
By Holly Hibner, Adult Services Coordinator, Plymouth (MI) District Library
eBooks on the Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) platform is one-stop shopping for all of your ready reference needs! Patrons will be impressed at the wealth of information that librarians can provide with just a few clicks. Let’s look at a few examples.
Here’s a familiar scenario: a high school student is writing a paper about Bill Gates. He is only allowed one internet source, and is looking for some book sources. What a perfect use of GVRL! Sure, the database is accessed via the Internet, but the sources themselves are books. Glorious, full-text reference books!
The librarian begins with the books Gale Encyclopedia of E-Commerce and Business Leader Profiles for Students, two of the full-text reference books in the Gale Virtual Reference Library. In both of the volumes there are entries for Bill Gates. The student is skeptical – the entries looks like an internet print-off and they are worried that their teacher won’t believe that it really, truly, is from a book. No worries, just click on the “View PDF” link at the top of the Bill Gates entry and the screen changes to look like the entry from the print edition, just as if the student had photo-copied the page from the book itself.
There is even a “Listen” button. Press the triangle “Play” button and listen to the entry read by a computerized voice. It’s a nice voice – not overly robotic and with excellent pronunciation (not like your incomprehensible caller ID announcer; more like a real, human voice!)
Now, would the student like a citation of this source? Of course he would! Click on “Citation Tools” on the right side of the screen and choose from MLA or APA styles. You can even save the citation to one of a number of online options like EasyBib, EndNote, ProCite, or Google Drive. (Read more about Gale’s new Google Integration within GVRL.)
You’ve hooked the student. He’s interested. What else have you got? He needs additional sources! Well, let’s move on to Encyclopedia of Global Brands, another reference book within the Gale Virtual Reference Library. Perhaps the student could write a bit about Bill Gates’ brand, Microsoft. In volume 2 of the 2013 edition, there is an entry for Microsoft. Perfect! You can listen to the article, save the citation, view the PDF, print the article, and even email it to the student. These features are part of the Gale Virtual Reference Library interface, not the individual sources within the database, so you have access no matter which book source you are using.
The student is now ready to write his paper. Meanwhile, his parent has been watching this interaction and pipes in with a question of their own. “Is there anything in there about hypertension? This kid is giving me high blood pressure!” Yes, indeed, the Gale Virtual Reference Library has many medical sources. On the home page of the database, simply click in the “medicine” category and take your pick. There is the Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, Gale Encyclopedia of Prescription Drugs, Gale Encyclopedia of Cancer, and Gale Encyclopedia of Senior Health, among others.
Now the parent is on board with Gale Virtual Reference Library too, and gets excited. “I’m thinking about opening my own business. Are there books in this database to help me get started?” Yes, yes, yes! There are! In the “Business” category there are full-text sources like Business Plans Handbook, Encyclopedia of Emerging Markets, Encyclopedia of Small Business, and Business Insights Handbook of Investment Research. There are also books on e-commerce, global brands, innovation management, and emerging industries.
That seems like a lot, and now the parent is overwhelmed. No worries, though; they can simply type a search term or phrase like “restaurant industry” or “manufacturing facilities” in the search box at the top of the page and the Gale Virtual Reference Library will find entries in various resources that match those terms. There are search limiters on the right side of the page as well, to really narrow the search to relevant topics, sources, and document types. One of the document types listed is “statistical data,” which is extremely useful in this kind of research!
Topics like law and literary criticism, which can make for lengthy and intense reference questions, are much easier with resources like American Law Yearbook, American Governance, and Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law and, all available in full-text in the Gale Virtual Reference Library. For literary criticism there are many choices, Literature Criticism Online—10 individual award-winning collections represent a range of modern and historical views on authors and their works across regions, eras and genres. Other Lit Crit resources include Novels for Students, Poetry for Students, and Short Stories for Students.
It is even possible to translate articles into a variety of languages, making this a truly accessible resource. Patrons also have the ability to download the MP3 to listen to an article offline. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is integrated for quick look-ups, and researchers can create highlights and notes within an article. The database integrates with Google Drive, too, so patrons can save an entry from any resource to their Google account. With the Access My Library mobile app and the Gale eBooks app in the Chrome Store, GVRL is even available on-the-go! Learn more about Google Apps for Education and Gale at www.gale.com/google.
As you can see, this database is an extremely practical and relevant tool for library patrons. The scenarios given here are very common in libraries. The full-text sources in this database provide information on a huge variety of subjects all in one place, saving both staff and patrons valuable time through one-stop research.
No GVRL eBooks at your library yet? Request your free trial and check out the complete title list.
About the Authors
Holly is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Plymouth District Library in Plymouth, MI. She has a mild obsession with collection quality (ok, maybe not so mild) and can be found at the Readers’ Advisory desk dreaming up read-alikes.
Mary is the Youth Services Librarian at the Lyon Township Public Library in South Lyon, MI. She, too, is obsessed with collection quality, and has taken it up a notch with never ending shelf lists, spreadsheets, and inventory. Mary has a special knack for linking books to readers of all ages.
Together Mary and Holly are the authors of “Making a Collection Count: a holistic approach to library collection management.” They also tweet at @awfullibbooks and blog at awfullibrarybooks.net.
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