Magazine article National Forum

LIBS.COM: An Electronic Research Tool

Magazine article National Forum

LIBS.COM: An Electronic Research Tool

Article excerpt

Internet users on VAX/VMS or Unix systems now have another powerful research tool at their disposal: a program called LIBS.COM. Mark Resmer of Sonoma State University, the author of the program, has centralized access to various databases and has thereby made assessing them very easy.

The primary, or at least original, function of LIBS.COM is accessing online library catalogues both in this country and in foreign lands. In the United States, libraries in forty-three states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico provide online services. The number of libraries varies from state to state, from one in Mississippi to six in Pennsylvania to sixteen in New York, and so on. California offers seven libraries in addition to those of the whole University of California System.

Included among the offerings are those in law school libraries, medical and dental libraries, and libraries of governmental publications. Many libraries have special collections, such as the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas-Austin. LIBS.COM also accesses the resources of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Special mention is due the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL) because of its breadth of coverage. In addition to twenty-six state and regional libraries, it contains online articles from the major professional journals and from trade and industry magazines. Special permission from Colorado is required for access to article texts and to CARL's online encyclopedia, but open access is given to such databases as Choice (book reviews), the ERIC education resources, the Internet Resource Guide, and the holdings of the Boston Library Consortium.

LIBS.COM also provides direct linkage to libraries in Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Sixty-one libraries are accessible in the United Kingdom alone. Fewer libraries have online capacity in continental Europe, but the number is increasing and many of those available do have an English-language option for searches.

Although simplified library access was the original purpose of LIBS.COM, Resmer has vastly expanded its scope by the inclusion of access to other databases. For example, LIBS.COM now links with agricultural-extension databases from Fresno State and Penn State, the Dartmouth Dante Database, population and economic databases from Penn State, oceanographic and astronomical databases (including U. …

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