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Finding information…

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We are approaching the end of the fiscal year (June 30) which is when one budget year ends and another begins.

As with any household budget, we look at line items where we might have a little bit left over and see what we might purchase with those funds.

Do we buy more books? Do we look at additional online databases? How do we make sure people know about them and use them?

When I first began in this profession, more years ago than I like to remember, many libraries had big, expensive sets of reference books. The more of those sets you had, the more questions you could answer. And, by inference, the better that library was. The information found in them was generally reliable and relied upon.

With the rise of the Internet, more and more people began using Google as their main source of information. Reliable or not.

This meant that those really great but very expensive reference sets sat on shelves and were seldom used. Publishers began offering them in online versions. At first they were also expensive but over time the prices have come down.

A year ago, Gale, one of the most well-known reference publishers around, offered a fantastic bargain to smaller libraries (like us). Fifty of their most-used and popular reference books in online format for $2500 with annual maintenance fees of $250. It was literally too good to pass up. At the same time they made several other databases available to us for an equally reasonable price.

So now comes decision time. To keep them or not to keep them? Usage statistics reveal that all of the databases with one exception have been used reasonably well. Worth keeping around at least.

The exception? Powerspeak which was our second attempt at an online language learning program. As much as I’d like to keep it, I think I just have to admit that this kind of program doesn’t work in this community.

So what to do with those funds? Do we purchase additional databases and see how those are received? Or do we purchase a program that might help us maximize usage of the databases we have?

The jury is still out – check our website on July 1 and you’ll see the answer!

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