It’s a great feeling at Commencement to walk across that stage and receive your diploma after years of toil and effort, as many associate, bachelors, masters, and doctoral students will do this May. And I’m sure that many students have grown accustomed to using at least a few of the many databases that are available through the Consortium Library. But after graduation?
Well, you’ll still be able to come into the Library and sign in as Guest to use those databases, but you’ll no longer be able to get to them from home and off-campus because our licensing agreements only include on-campus use and current students, staff, and faculty. This is where – as new alumni and Alaskans – you really need to know about one of the best-kept secrets in Alaska, SLED: the Statewide Library Electronic Doorway. You can find a link to SLED at the lower right of the Library’s home page, or go here: http://sled.alaska.edu
SLED’s home page is a sort of resource control panel; clicking on one of the 12 labeled images will take you to a variety of databases that are paid for by the State for ALL Alaskans, not just university people. What if a database asks you for a logon and password? Look beneath the images for database assistance. And if you don’t want to figure out which of the images would be best for what you need, you’ll find a search box above them.
Are these useful databases? Many of them are ones we use all the time in the Consortium Library, such as Academic Search Premier. Others, like MasterFile Premier, are more public library-oriented. Which is good, because – need a new fridge or a lawn mower? – you’ll find things like Consumer Reports in full text in MasterFile Premier. You’ll also find databases for language learning, auto and small engine repair, genealogy, and many other subjects in SLED. Thinking about going on to graduate school, or perhaps you need to take the PRAXIS test? In the Testing and Education Reference Center database, you can find preparation materials for things like the GRE, the MCAT and LSAT, CLEP, PRAXIS, TOEFL, U.S. Citizenship, and other tests. There are also databases for our younger population, such as Searchasaurus, the ever-popular Live Homework Help, and Teen Health & Wellness – which is not just about teenagers, but is actually for teenagers.
SLED has more than databases. One of the 12 images (and a delightful place to browse) is for Alaska’s Digital Archives, created from the collections of libraries across the state for the 50th anniversary of statehood. It includes not only photographs, but also short films and oral histories.
So why is it called SLED? Steve Smith, who led much of the early work on SLED, said that he and his kids had gone sledding not long before the service needed to be named, and that they’d had such a wonderful time that they just wanted to go sledding again and again. He named the service SLED in that same spirit, in the hope that Alaskans would find SLED to be such a wonderful and vital resource that they, too, would want to go SLEDDING again and again. And in the case of this particular SLED (and thinking back on our last two winters), no snow is required!