Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Finding Old Magazine and Newspaper Articles (and More!)

Many of us have grown lazy, spoiled by the vastness of Google. If Google can't find it, we generally quit the search. We fail to take advantage of other information tools at our disposal, even though lots of the best data are squirreled away in proprietary databases unavailable to web search.

For example, we've all searched for magazine and newspaper articles online and found them to be unavailable. You might resort to pricey Lexus searches, or else traipse to the library, but there's another option. Many (most? all?) libraries offer cardholders use of vast online databases archiving full text magazine and newspaper articles. Just enter your library card barcode number in your browser, even from your home computer. It's amazing.

I doubt that more than 1% of library card holders avail themselves of this content. For an eye-opening afternoon, surf to your library's home page and drill down to the links for online reference (you'll likely need to type in your library card number). And don't stop with the magazine/newspaper article offerings. You'll almost surely find access to other highly useful databases, as well.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the issue comes to my mind because I just scored, in all of three minutes of searching, all three of the wonderful articles mentioned in this Slate article on the late great David Foster Wallace, after spending 30 minutes fruitlessly looking for them on the Web. By the way, some other good Wallace articles are linked to in this New Yorker article.

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