Volume 90, Issue 71

Thursday, January 30, 1997



Library database resource use as quiet as... a library

By Mark Brown
Gazette Staff

Students and faculty are failing to take advantage of the university libraries' technological jump forward by ignoring resources which could be an invaluable tool for both information and time-saving, say university librarians.

One of these tools is Lexis-Nexis, a database which primarily consists of full-text documents from thousands of magazines, journals and newspapers from around the world, said Jerry Mulcahy, head of the Business Library.

"Over the years we've had to cancel some of our journals," Mulcahy said. "[Lexis-Nexis] greatly expanded our holdings.

"Not many people are aware that this system has most of these journals."

The database costs the library $8,500 per year and this fee allows 10 students to access the system at one time, said Catherine Quinlan, director of libraries.

One of the reasons the system was obtained was because it included all of the journals and papers that were cancelled, said Walter Zimmerman, a librarian at Weldon library.

However, shortly after the system was in place the librarians were informed a fee of $0.65 per minute would be charged to do searches of Canadian newspapers. Zimmerman said the searches can still be carried out by librarians to limit the time on the system.

"It certainly doesn't get the use that we imagined it would," Quinlan said. "The title is not very descriptive so most people don't know what it is."

The availability of electronic resources has exploded over the last five years and the library has been trying to keep up, Quinlan said, adding they sometimes forget to tell people about the changes.

"The libraries can do more internal promotion," Mulcahy said. He added most of the students currently using databases, like Lexis-Nexis, have learned about them from library staff.

That is how Deborah Faust, a third-year economics student, found out about the database. Her only negative comment was it is slow on occasion.

"It's much better to use the system early in the day," Mulcahy advised, as most of the people using the system do not realize the database is located in Dayton, Ohio.

However, students are not the only ones who have to be educated about the system.

"The faculty doesn't use it too much – I would doubt a lot of the faculty use it properly," Mulcahy said.

Aside from the system being slow during peak periods, there are a few minor drawbacks. "The Canadian content could be better [and] it could be a little friendlier, but the windows template makes it a little easier," Mulcahy said.

The Lexis-Nexis system, along with all the other databases, can be accessed from all the terminals in all the libraries on campus, said Mulcahy.

Zimmerman said users should bring a disk as they will need one to make the most-effective use of their time. Although this piece of advice could help all students who do a search on the library's computers, a disk becomes an essential tool for someone who is using a database like Lexis-Nexis.

The system is also available to students at home via the library's web site, however, it has a few technical difficulties, Mulcahy added.

To Contact The News Department: gaznews@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997