August 2, 2010

Wisconsin InfoLink: A librarian in his element

Wisconsin InfoLink is an almanac of Wisconsin facts and resources compiled by Ron Larson. Each week on the WisconsinWatch blog, Larson introduces us to one of these gems.

I know I am biased, but libraries are great. Libraries of all kinds – public, academic and special – provide a deep offering of resources that can help everyone. If you’re a student, business person or an investigative reporter, Wisconsin InfoLink can direct you to a few of the valuable library resources.

For starters, let’s take a look at Wisconsin Tech Search, under InfoLink‘s Business category.

This isn’t your typical library. The tech search offers an exceptional research service, scouring online databases and the extensive collections at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to find the information you need. This service is not free, but it’s useful when you need expert information searchers and you don’t have the time or know-how.

Wisconsin InfoLink has an individual category just for libraries.

Featured resource: Wisconsin InfoLink – Libraries

Here you will find links to a Wisconsin Library Directory, maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction; the UW-Madison Libraries directory, (there are nearly 50 libraries on campus); a directory to Wisconsin public libraries; and the Wisconsin Library Association’s site (including its Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries, an advocacy site — libraries need support).

Public libraries offer a wealth of information besides recreational reading. Let’s take a look, for example, what the Madison Public Library has to offer.

How I got there: Wisconsin InfoLink – Libraries > Wisconsin Library Directory > Public Library Websites > Madison Public Library.

Roll your mouse over the “Research” tab at the top of the page, and you will see a variety of choices, including the online catalog Linkcat, databases, info and websites by topic. By choosing databases, you will then be given a lengthy list of wonderful free resources.

They include: Consumer Reports Online; DemographicsNow; EBSCO Host, a direct link to hundreds of full-text periodicals; Encyclopedia Britannica; MorningStar Investment Research Center; and ReferenceUSA Business, a great company research tool.

The one catch to take advantage of these free resources is you need a library card.

But, I’m sure all of you have a public library card, right? If you live in another area, say Green Bay or La Crosse, your library card will not work for the above Madison Public Library examples. But, by checking your own public library’s website, you’ll discover the great resources that are waiting for you.

One library-related site that is available to everyone in Wisconsin is BadgerLink.

Featured resource: Wisconsin InfoLink – Education > BadgerLink

Here you will find free access to thousands of magazines, journals and newspapers. If you can’t access it from your home computer or laptop because of your Internet provider limitations, your local public library will have access to BadgerLink.

Stay tuned to Wisconsin InfoLink for an announcement relating to a major addition to BadgerLink later this summer.