By Bill Teschek, Assistant Director
After nearly four years of developing reference and Internet services at the library, Bobb Menk left us for another job last month. We were fortunate to have him for so long, and he will be missed. I will be taking on the difficult (if not impossible) job of filling his shoes in developing our library's website and keeping our 35 or so computers running.
Falling prices and new technologies provided us with an opportunity to improve our Internet service for the public. One of the last things Bobb did before he left was to implement a new DSL Internet connection rated at 512kb. This is approximately 4 times faster than our previous ISDN line, which in itself was quite fast. For our users, this means we've gone from a fast connection to a very fast connection. For our budget, this means a savings of just over $2000 for the current year, and about $4000 next year.
We have also expanded some of the resources we make available to you at home. We now provide two magazine article databases that you can access over the Internet using your library card number as your ID card: ProQuest and Ebscohost. These are similar sets of databases which you can search for magazine and newspaper articles from the past 10-15 years. About 60% of the materials include the actual article rather than just a citation to pages in the print version. We think that's a real improvement on the old Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature that you may remember from the past. And for those of you who prefer print, we still subscribe to the Reader's Guide.
Another database that was recently added to the same page is Contemporary Authors from Gale Research. We've subscribed to the print volumes for years and have switched to the online version because it is more powerful and more convenient. You can also access this from your home computer using your library card barcode number. It is described as "a bio-bibliographical guide to current writers in fiction, general nonfiction, poetry, journalism, drama, motion pictures, television, and other fields. Provides complete biographical and bibliographical references for more than 90,000 authors in the U.S. and around the world."
Don't forget that our card catalog is also available online. We've also recently added a New Arrivals area to our card catalog. With it, you can check to see if the latest titles have come in yet at the library. Choose Our Catalog from the main menu and then look for the link to New Arrivals.
Last month saw the one year anniversary of our local newspaper index on the web. In June of 1999 we began indexing the Hampton Union, and added the Atlantic News and the Herald Sunday a few months later. We index stories from Hampton, Hampton Falls, North Hampton and Seabrook, all obituaries, as well as births and marriages pertaining to Hampton people. You can access this index from the "Additional Tools" button at the top of all of our web pages. We hope some day to be able to index backwards in time, but keeping up with the current issue takes up all of our time. If anyone is interested in volunteering to help out with this project, please contact me at the library (926-3368). You will need excellent keyboarding skills, as well as a reasonable amount of computer experience and an aptitude for indexing.