Metaforix@Health - Free Online Resources for Public Library Users: New Jersey

Lois C. Ambash is President and Chief Infomaven of Metaforix Incorporated, whose services include organizational assessment and planning activities, web site and e-letter content development, and design and delivery of customized workshops for healthcare, education, business, and community organizations. Lois holds a PhD in American Culture and Writing, Master’s degrees in Library/Information Science and Public Policy, and a Bachelor’s degree in English. She serves on the board of the Internet Healthcare Coalition and on URAC’s Health Web Site Accreditation Committee, and is a frequent writer and speaker on e-health, Internet research, business communications, and organizational culture. Read or subscribe to Lois’s blog, Metaforix@.

This column continues my exploration of resources freely available online from remote locations to holders of public library cards -- with an emphasis on full-text health resources. Previous columns have covered the state libraries and large city libraries located in California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois , Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and the District of Columbia. (I’m working my way through all the states in order of population, according to the 2002 Census, covering the state library along with one or more large cities.)

This month’s gem, from my perspective, is the Accunet/AP Multimedia Archive, a searchable treasure-trove of downloadable images and other multimedia records dating back to 1826. This resource is available “for educational use only” to schools, public libraries, colleges, and universities. Although I had difficulty with this application in Firefox, in Internet Explorer it worked like a charm. I did a sample search on “Schiavo,” setting the date range as 1991 to 2005 and the “where” as “United States.” The 996 photos I retrieved, along with their captions, poignantly recaptured the scope and significance of the case, particularly when I sorted the images by date.

As with past columns in this series, I have used Onfolio to compile this column. If you would like a copy complete with graphics as an Onfolio report, contact me at MIHealth @ metaforix.com. The column will arrive as an e-mail attachment in .mht format, viewable in Internet Explorer. (An aside: Onfolio has just launched a beta test of its new version, which is fully functional in Foxfire as well as Internet Explorer and includes a newsreader, among a host of other new features. I just downloaded it yesterday, so I’m not yet familiar with any differences that may affect Foxfire users who request this column as an Onfolio report.)


The New Jersey State Library

Home page: http://www.njstatelib.org/index.php

Overview and missionThe mission of the State Library of New Jersey is “to lead in the provision, promotion and support of high quality library and information services to all the people of New Jersey.” The main function of the State Library Information Center is to provide library services to state government, but its “resources are also available to assist other libraries, Thomas Edison State College staff and students, and residents of the State.”  A second division, the New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped, serves disabled residents of the state. The Library Development Bureau provides consulting and technical services and coordinates collaborative efforts for the state’s public libraries.

User eligibility: Online borrower registration and use of licensed commercial online databases are limited to New Jersey State Government officials and employees,    

Online reference services: 

            E-mail reference service is available to all site visitors by completing an online form. The target response time is two business days.

            Q&A NJ is a live, 24/7 reference service staffed by professional librarians, available only for “New Jersey residents, New Jersey students, and New Jersey-related questions.”

Selected online resources available to all site visitors:

               Catalog of holdings of the State Library of New Jersey, including books, periodicals, e-books, audio books, and all media. Some sections of the catalog are restricted to registered borrowers.

               New Jersey government documents, encompassing various health-related reports, data, and links to relevant state government websites. Examples include:

New Jersey Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted in Fall, 2001, by the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services

New Jersey hospitals offering investigational cancer studies, a publication of the NJ State Commission on Cancer Research

Leading Environmental Indicators: fact sheets on New Jersey’s environment

Report on New Jersey Healthcare Information Networks and Technologies (HINT), 2003

                  New Jersey Legislative Histories, 1998-2003

HealthyNJ.org is a collaboration between the State Library and UMDNJ and provides a wealth of useful information both specific to New Jersey and for the general public. [thanks to Dorothy Fleishman for this recommendation]

Web research guides, encompassing print and electronic resources available to eligible borrowers as well as selected websites arranged by subject, showing dates of most recent updates. Health-related website collections include Emergency Management, Environmental Resources, Health and Medical Resources, and Public Policy and Opinion .

Selected online resources restricted to eligible borrowers includes numerous commercial databases, such as:

            Alt HealthWatch, a full-text databases of reports, proceedings, newsletters, book excerpts, and similar documents covering complementary and alternative health.

            CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), encompassing 1200 publications, about 270 in full-text format

            Health Reference Center – Academic, providing full-text access to medical, nursing, and allied health journals, plus selected articles from general-interest magazines and text from a wide variety of other health and medical sources.  

            PsycArticles full-text database of psychology articles and PsycInfo abstracts of psychological literature

            Note: Integrated within the remote access database lists, for Health and Medicine as well as other topics, are a number of useful free-access online resources (for example, AARP’s AgeLine abstracts of social gerontology and aging literature; the database of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information; the PDQ (Physician Data Query) database of the National Cancer Institute; and the Department of Veterans Affairs PILOTS electronic index to literature on trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder).


Newark Public Library

Home page: http://www.npl.org/

Library card eligibility:  Library cards are freely available to “anyone who lives, works, attends school, or owns property in the City of Newark,” with borrowing privileges available to others at a cost of $50.00 per year.  

Online reference services:  Q&A NJ offers 24/7 live chat with professional librarians from around the state, complete with “co-browsing” technology that allows the librarian to direct the user to appropriate sites and databases. An e-mailed transcript containing links to sites contacted during the reference session is also available, and the system saves previous chat sessions for 30 days if the user so desires.

Selected online resources available to all site visitors:

            Previews of current art and photography exhibits on display at the main branch of the library

            JerseyCat, the searchable union catalog of holdings of New Jersey public and academic libraries, including the New Jersey Union List of Serials. (Registered borrowers may use the system to reserve books at participating libraries and to initiate interlibrary loans.)

            Annotated topical guides to Internet sites selected by the library staff, including Health, Fitness and Nutrition, Parenting, and Seniors.

            Links to a variety of freely available tutorials and guides to internet research.

            Accunet/AP Multimedia Archive (see username and password listed on the library’s Internet and Electronic Resources page), a searchable database encompassing over a million photos dating back to 1826, along with audio sound bytes, graphics and text. All may be downloaded. The User Guide offers a comparison of this resource with Google Image Search and demonstrates how to cite Accunet/AP records in MLA format.

Selected online resources restricted to eligible borrowers:

            JerseyClicks, a full-text integrated database encompassing several commercial databases. The services FAQs page lists five reasons “why JerseyClicks is better than Google.”

            EBSCOHost, offering full-text access to over 1800 magazines and newspapers.

            Infotrac Newspapers, offering full-text access to two New Jersey papers, The Record and The Star-Ledger, as well as The New York Times.