Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Books Online

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Books Online

Article excerpt

Expanding electronic access to information is extending our reach beyond the walls of our libraries. The increasing number of full-text databases makes it possible to locate and retrieve relevant articles from publications not available in a library's print collection. In addition, a growing number of journals are available only in electronic form, so that librarians cannot ignore online resources and effectively provide current information to their patrons.

We tend to associate online resources with current information, but there are also advantages to converting archival materials to the electronic format. Librarians often have difficulty obtaining replacement copies of out-of-print titles and would appreciate the ability to obtain the text electronically. Also, text in electronic format can be easily searched. This month we will take a look at a BBS that is making books available online in full-text format.

Advantage Houston

The Advantage Houston BBS, established in November 1991, is located in Houston, Texas. This board is a single-purpose board with no online chat functions, no conferences or special-interest groups, and limited electronic mail. The main purpose of this board is to distribute its collection of "paperless books." The books available for download are titles in the public domain or titles that have tong been out-of-print.

An Electronic Book Club

While there is no charge to access the BBS and browse the available files, most of the titles are available only to members of the PaperLess Readers Club. There is a one-time fee to join the club, and available titles are individually priced. Titles may be downloaded from the BBS or ordered on floppy disk.

If you want to try out the format before committing to club membership, there are some titles that are available without charge. The offline reader used to display the files can also be found in this free area. Macintosh users should note that, while they can access the BBS, the reader and the files are for IBM and compatible computers.

Novice telecommunicators will appreciate the simplicity of this BBS. The first option in the main menu is the free area that contains the offline reader package and some sample documents. Selecting this option lists the available files with file sizes and descriptions. The files are compressed to reduce the transmission time so you will need a decompression utility that can handle files compressed with the ZIP format.

Marking Your Place Electronically

I downloaded the reader and a few sample files with no difficulties and curled up on the couch with my Zeos Notebook 286 to do some reading. …

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