Metaforix@Health – Free Online Resources for Public Library Users: Florida and Illinois

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 .The previous two columns have covered the state libraries and large city libraries located in California , Texas, and New York .

This month’s gem is the Ask a Librarian service used by the State Library and Archive of Florida and some public libraries in the state. This time, it’s the technology that has captivated me. Before a librarian enters the chat, Ask a Librarian downloads a “co-browser” feature. The text of the chat then appears in a narrow left-hand pane, while a full-featured browser appears on the right. This lets the librarian direct the user to appropriate sites by navigating to them in real time. The visitor can follow the navigation process and can also navigate within the browser.

Another noteworthy discovery is the Jacksonville Public Library’s Nonprofit Resources page. As a cooperating library of the Foundation Center , JPL offers resources, tutorials, and other free services to nonprofit grant-seekers. The links on this page are valuable to nonprofits nationwide. Most are freely accessible.

Again, I have used Onfolio to compile thiscolumn.If you would like a copy complete with graphics as an Onfolio report, contact me at FLHealth @ The column will arrive as an e-mail attachment in .mht format, viewable in Internet Explorer. If you would also like the Onfolio versions of previous columns in this series, please request them in the body of your message.

State Library and Archives of Florida

Home page :

User eligibility : The State Library and Archives is the “designated information resource provider for the Florida Legislature and all state agencies.” In addition to the expanded reference resources available to legislators and state employees, the State Library serves public libraries within the state and maintains Florida archival, documentary, and historical collections. Florida citizens with public library cards are eligible to use all resources of the Florida Electronic Library .

Online reference services: The Ask a Librarian service is collaboratively staffed by librarians throughout the state during most hours when libraries are open and is available to out-of-state residents as well Floridians. This online chat service has a “co-browse” feature that lets the librarian take the visitor to appropriate web pages or online databases.

Selected online resources available to all site visitors:

FloridaCat is a catalog of materials available in all Florida libraries, including academic and medical as well as public libraries. FloridaCat makes use of OCLC First Search technology and can be set to return results in English, Spanish, French, and several Asian languages. “Guest access” is available to non-cardholders.

The Directory of Open Access Journals , a project coordinated by the Lund University Libraries in Sweden, is a searchable database of 1252 “free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals,” 320 of which are searchable “on the article level.” Over 200 of the journals cover health sciences .

The Florida Photographic Collection , part of the state archives, consists of some 850,000 still photographs and 2,500 videos. Clips from 28 of the videos appear in the online collections, including a 1950s educational film intended to teach mothers how to care for a child with the flu.

The PALMM (Publication of Archival Library and Museum Materials) Collections, a cooperative initiative of Florida’s public universities, provide high-quality “digital access to important source materials for research scholarship.” Among the PALMM Collections are Florida Environments Online and Linking Florida’s Natural Heritage .

The Florida State Archives Online is a searchable database that reflects the catalogued holdings of the State Archives in Tallahassee. Only a small proportion of the holdings are viewable online.

Selected online resources restricted to holders of Florida public library cards from a “core collection” of Gale databases: :

InfoTrac OneFile encompasses over 4,200 full text titles and five newspaper indexes, among them several “specialty titles in law, health care, and computers.”

Health & Wellness Resource Center & Alternative Health Module incorporates a range of consumer and professional publications covering Western and alternative medicine, fitness, and health.

Health Reference Center – Academic, encompasses over 700 professional and consumer publications geared for “ nursing and allied health students, medical students, professionals and laypersons.”

Computer Database, a fully searchable database of 150 technology periodicals, along with industry status reports, company profiles, and other documents.

Jacksonville Public Library

Home page:

Library card eligibility: Library cards are freely available to residents and property-owners in the city of Jacksonville and Duval County; Jacksonville/Duval County public school teachers; Jacksonville city employees; and students attending colleges located in Jacksonville. There is a $40 per year non-resident borrower fee.

Selected online resources available to all site visitors:

JAXCAT , the catalog of print and audio holdings of the Jacksonville Public Library

The JPL Grants Center, a Cooperating Collection of the Foundation Center , maintains a page of online resources for nonprofits , many of which are not password-protected.

Online reference service : “Ask Your Librarian” e-mail reference service with a target 24-hour turnaround time, excluding Sundays and holidays.

A well-chosen and well-organized page of health and medical resources , most of which do not require a JPL card for access.

Online resources restricted to JPL cardholders:

All resources of the Florida Electronic Library .

Miami-Dade Public Library System

Home page: (English) or (Spanish)

User eligibility: Library cards are freely available to residents and property holders of the Miami-Dade library district. Cardholders of specified districts have reciprocal borrowing privileges. Nonresident cards are available to residents of specified Florida communities only at a cost of $50 per year.

Selected online resources available to all site visitors:

Catalog of holdings of the Miami-Dade Public Library System

Link to catalog of holdings of the Miami-Dade County Law Library

Link to , the unified catalog of holdings of SEFLIN, the Southeast Florida Library Information Network

Ask a Librarian online chat reference service and e-mail reference service with a target two-day turnaround time.

Links to the online documents and services of Miami-Dade County Government .

Selected online resources restricted to MDPL cardholders:

All resources of the Florida Electronic Library .

Illinois State Library

Home page: (State library) (State digital library)

User eligibility: Illinois state employees (excluding faculty and staff of state colleges and universities, Illinois public library card holders, and cardholders of other ILCSO libraries (mostly colleges and universities) are freely eligible for borrowing privileges.

Online reference services :

E-mail reference service with a target 24-hour turnaround are provided primarily for Illinois residents and state employees, although “i nquiries are welcome from anyone who has a question related to the unique resources at the Illinois State Library .”

Question Point live chat reference service is available during limited hours.

Online resources available to all site visitors:

The Illinois Digital Archives is both a search engine that indexes “images, sound files, and other multi-media files” on Illinois websites that relate to the history and culture of Illinois and “a tool for libraries to add images and their cataloging records into a database.” Non-cardholders can browse the archives by contributing library.

The Illinois Government Information search engine is a unified catalog of electronic documents produced by the state agencies of Illinois. It can be searched by subject or by agency and includes a page of “ high-value links to government websites at the state, municipal, and federal levels.

ILLINET Online is a unified catalog of the holdings of the ILCSO libraries, including the State Library itself.

SILC (Statewide Illinois Catalog Online) is a catalog of materials a vailable in all Illinois libraries, including academic and medical as well as public libraries. SILC makes use of OCLC First Search technology and can be set to return results in English, Spanish, French, and several Asian languages.

TBBS (Talking Book and Braille Service) is the catalog of audio and Braille books available to Illinois residents.

Illinois Periodicals Online (IPO), an ongoing digital imaging project intended to scan the entire runs of Illinois-focused magazines and journals, currently includes full or partial runs of nine journals, accessible by date

Selected online resources restricted to Illinois library cardholders:

Access to over 75 FirstSearch databases, including several health databases, with entries annotated to indicate Illinois library holdings.

Chicago Public Library

Home page :

Library card eligibility: Library cards are freely available to Chicago residents with proper identification and to cardholders of libraries participating in the Illinois Intersystem Reciprocal Borrowing Covenant .

Selected online resources available to all site visitors:

E-mail reference service responds to “basic” information requests within seven days.

Catalog of holdings of the Chicago Public Library.

The “ Reference Shelf is a selected, annotated set of links to basic reference sources that reflect the kinds of questions asked at the library’s Information desk.

Selected Internet Resources is an extensive, well-organized set of links to online resources, bibliographies of materials available in the library, and local resources. These appear to be updated on a rotating basis, so note the “Last updated” indicator. Examples include:

Health and Medicine

Information for People with Disabilities

Chicago Area Directory of Organizations , a list of 1600 metro-area groups searchable by name and subject and including many live links to websites and contact e-mail addresses. In the subject index, most health-related organizations are listed by disease or condition.

Hot Topics , a rotating, regularly-updated resource list of “current-events based” sites.

Internet Resources for Senior Citizens , including health-related sites, local organizations, and caregiver resources.

Learn Chicago , a compendium of Chicago-related sites and collections, among them

Chicago Collections at CPL , a set of introductions and guides to physical and online Chicago-related materials

Digital Collections , consisting of eight online collections of photographic images, some drawn from physical collections and exhibits in CPL branches.

Links to the City of Chicago homepage and other government sites at the state, municipal, and federal level

Selected online resources restricted to CPL cardholders:

CINAHL , the “definitive database for nursing and allied health research”

PapersFirst index of papers presented at conferences

Proceedings index of conference proceedings

Chicago Tribune full-text database from 1995 to the present, updated daily

© 2004, Lois C. Ambash, Metaforix Incorporated. All rights reserved.

Posted in: Healthcare, Libraries & Librarians, Medical Research, Metaforix@Health, Virtual Library