Monthly Archives: September 2020

A Guide to Guides

Ever wondered what the guides on the library website are? Here’s a quick run-down of the 4 types of guides on the website.

1. Topic Guides

These are guides for library resources for specific subjects. For example, if you’re in a chem class and want to know what the library has to offer you, you can head to the Chemistry guide. There, you’ll find links to databases (in case your prof asks you to find articles), helpful study websites, and recommendations to other guides. Some of these guides may have book and eBook suggestions as well.

2. How-To Guides

These guides provide instruction on how to gain library and technology skills. There are guides on Blackboard, how to use Interlibrary Loan, information on copyright law, and much, much more.

3. Course Guides

These guides were created by subject librarians for specific courses. They are tailored to each class’s needs, but all will include website, book, and database recommendations. Check to see if your class is listed!

4. Archives & Special Collections Guides

These guides were created by archivists to describe historical papers in the Archives and Special Collection in the UAA/APU Consortium Library. You’ll find recommendations for collections of papers or records based on topic. If you want to use historical documents in research on the 1964 earthquake, tourism, or dog mushing (to list a few!), check out these guides first to find out what might be worth viewing in the archives’ research room.

TL;DR: Guides help you make sense of the many, many library resources available to you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and are unsure of where to start research, check out a guide!

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Important Newspaper Update

This post was largely discovered and written by your friendly neighborhood librarian, Ralph Courtney. Thanks, Ralph!

Big news! The Consortium Library has increased access to Anchorage news sources through the Anchorage Daily News database!

We’ve been accustomed to only having access to the Anchorage Daily News (in all its varied manifestations) back to 1985, and most of that only included articles generated by the ADN itself, without any wire service stories or articles borrowed from other major newspapers, or even – horrors! – the comics. The only exception has been since October 2018, when full-color scanned images began to be available.

Well, whoa! I’m not sure when this started, but I am sure it was very recently: there are now five choices instead of four when you select the ADN database, and now there are two ‘Image’ choices under ‘Format’ rather than just the ‘2018-Current’ that we’ve been used to. There is ALSO 1970-2018! And these really are full-page scans that close the scanned-full-page gap (and more!) between the closing of the Anchorage Times in 1992 through 2018 and beyond. (There’s still 1947 or so through 1969 to go for the ADN, although I have no knowledge as to whether that’s being done or not.) This is really tremendous!

I just wanted to make sure everyone was aware that between the Anchorage Daily Times and the ADN, we now have this magnificent stretch of online full-page day-to-day Anchorage and Alaska history reaching from the present day all the way back to 1916, something long dreamed of but thought nearly impossible to afford and accomplish as recently as five years ago.

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Why Would I Use a Database?

Situation: your professor has asked you to find articles on a specific topic. Let’s say you need articles on medication errors in hospitals. You know you need to start on the library home page, and you find some decent results using Quicksearch. So why do you see other databases listed on the website?

Here’s the skinny on databases.

1. Databases are often specialized for specific disciplines and audiences

As we discussed earlier, Quicksearch will give you a lot of results very quickly. However, those results are rarely as targetted as you really need for an intensive search. It’s like when you eat a bowl of Fruity Pebbles; when you pour straight from the box, you’ll get a mix of all the different colors. BUT, if you only want blue and red Fruity Pebbles, it’d be better if someone (hopefully with clean hands) pre-sorted the cereal so you could select your colors as you poured. Databases provide a similar service.

For instance, let’s go back to medication error example. I could go to the Databases page and use the drop-down list on the left to view the Health/Nursing/Medicine databases. That removes my green Fruity Pebbles, or all the results of drug overdoses in pop culture. Next, I could select the Health Source database because it is specifically made for students in the medical field. That removes the yellow Fruity Pebbles, or the articles that are a little too in-depth for my purposes. I don’t need to know the mechanism by which a certain drug works for my particular project. By using a database tailored to my discipline and demographic, I can get to relevant results very quickly.

2. Different databases provide different access

While Quicksearch will provide access to most things it shows you, it’s not the most adept at searching some databases. For example, Westlaw and Medline results are often not as well-represented in the results there. By going right to the database (and logging in for off-campus access!), I can save a lot of time trying to gain access to an article.

TL;DR — More results do NOT equal better results!

Sometimes Quicksearch just gives too many results. There are ways to filter the Quicksearch to be more specific (more on that another time), but sometimes your best bet to break your research down into attainable chunks is just going through a couple databases. The databases have already been programmed to understand your search a little better, and many even suggest helpful keywords when they guess what you’re searching. Save yourself a little work and try using a database for your next project!

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How Do I Login at the Library?!

Ah, the sweet smells of dying leaves and pumpkin spice are filling the air and we’re entering the season of increased library use!

Pooh celebrates autumn

As you begin needing to access databases from home or place holds of books, it can be tricky to know what login to use where. This blog post will walk you through the various services you can access with which logins.

To Access Your Library Account

If you need to place a book on hold or renew a book, you’ll want to access your library account. You can do this by going to the library home page and clicking “My Library Account” in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. You will use your student ID # as the card number. Your PIN is a 4-digit number. If you’ve never changed your PIN, it sets to the last 4 digits of your student ID # by default. Once you log in, you can change your PIN to whatever 4 digit code you prefer.

To Access Databases and Ebooks Off-Campus

We’re all spending more time off-campus, so you may find yourself needing library resources from home. Once again, you’ll start at the library home page. You’ll then click “Off-Campus Access” in the upper right-hand corner of the screen (right next to My Library Account.) Your login here is the same as your Blackboard credentials.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll be able to get into all the databases on the library website and open ebooks just like you can when you’re on campus WiFi.

To order materials through Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery

If you need an article, Interlibrary Loan is a service that borrows materials from libraries around the world. It allows you to order items not found in the library catalog or in any of the library’s online subscriptions.

Document Delivery is a service that allows you to order items held in the library’s print collection including book chapters and journal and newspaper articles. When you place an order for an article, we will find it in the print collection, scan it, and deliver it to you electronically. It is not used for materials available through an online database.

To use either of these services, you’ll start (you guessed it) from the library home page. From there, click “Interlibrary Loan” under “Services.” You then use your Blackboard credentials to log in. If you’ve never used these services before, you’ll need to register. Once you do that, you’ll only need to log in with those same credentials in the future.

If you have any questions about how to access any of these resources, let us know on the Ask Us page!

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Zoom with your Reference Librarian

Working on a particularly gnarly research problem? Tired of typing out your assignment description every time you chat with the library? Try a Zoom session with the reference librarians!

We get it — sometimes you just need to talk to a real person. So, start your session by emailing us or chatting with us. You’ll be able to connect with a real-life, individual person during the posted reference hours. For the fall semester, that ‘s 9-10 Monday-Thursday, 9-6 Friday, 10-6 Saturday, and 12-10 Sunday. You can then request a Zoom session and we’ll accommodate as we’re able.

We can screen share to walk you through using the library resources and talk through your research questions. Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed, you simply need a friendly face.

Give it a try!

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