Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Online Reference Library 

The vast availability of online material has increased the demand for accuracy in PR. There is less excuse for failing to check facts, for misspelling names or missing essential points when one has a search engine to check. However, search engines are often unable to bring up just the site you need right now. They produce 10,000 hits, and your answer is in there somewhere. This is the reason that PR along with most practices needs its own online reference sources that collect data in depth in areas practitioners are likely to use. It was the reason for the launch of online-pr.com 10 years ago and the reason why this site continues.

This article discusses the need for an online reference library. It focuses on online-pr.com because it is a site I know well.

As usual, I look forward to getting your comments. It is the 70th essay on PR and communications posted on online-pr.com.


Congrats on the "historic" post.

My name is Gary Price and I wear several hats.

1) Founder and Editor of ResourceShelf and DocuTicker.
Many PR people visits the sites daily. A personal invite for you and others to join them.

2) Director of Online Information Resources at Ask.com
Nothing about Ask.com in this post but I WOULD LOVE to give you and others who read your site a tour of some of what we are up to including several features you don't see elsewhere.

3) Finally, I wear the hat of a librarian and that's where I want to contribute today. MOST LIBRARIES in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and now the UK offer FREE full text databases. Each library offers a different set but access is available 24x7x365 from anywhere. All you need is a library card for that library. Also, in many areas you don't even need a library card and where you do, let's say where I'm based, DC, I can get cards from libraries in VA, DC, and MD.

Here's an example. The San Francisco Public Library.

The first database listed has over 60 MILLION full text and in many cases full image articles from thousands of sources.

You'll also find a database offering the full text and full image of the NY Times back to Col. 1 No. 1 in 1851.

The full text of Who's Who is available and on it goes.

I would be remiss if I didn't say that these databases are usually licensed for personal use. However, in some cases local public libraries are also there to meet the needs of the business community. So, ask and find out precisely what you can use for personal and business use. If nothing else, sampling these databases will give you a good idea of what you might want to pay for.

OK, this is too much work. Fine. Then head on over to the JJ Hill Business Library in St. Paul, MN.

They over numerous services (for a small fee) for businenesses around the country. They also offer a suite of databases for business use.
See: http://www.hillsearch.org/
One of the databases available in the primary business database in the English speaking world, ABI/INFORM. Here's a list of the sources included many full text and full image (download on-demand) as a PDF file.

There is a lot more but I am nearing info overload. Please feel free to be in touch. I am happy to wear any of my several hats for you and your readers.

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