Library Hack: Hidden gems of the Digital Library

Posted on December 23, 2015 at 6:00 am

Library Hack: Hidden gems of the Digital Library

By Brian Vander Veen

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I imagine you probably already use OverDrive for downloadable ebooks and audiobooks. You might also use some of our other popular digital resources, like hoopla to stream music and movies, Zinio to browse popular magazines, or Gale Courses to study up on a new skill. But there are some other, less-trafficked digital resources (or even neglected back corners of more popular resources) that might also interest you. Here are a few of the “hidden gems” from the Digital Library that you might want to check out:

Explore history on BiblioBoard

We’ve recently been promoting BiblioBoard, one of our newest digital resources, primarily as a platform for local indie writers to publish their work online. But Biblioboard also has substantial collections of primary source documents—books, articles, photos, audio and video recordings—useful to educators, students, history buffs, or anyone interested in exploring the past.

On the desktop site, click on “Browse By” in the upper left corner and select “Categories” to explore all of BiblioBoard’s content organized by subject area. On the mobile site, you first have to touch the three-bars icon to the right of the SCLD logo. Then you can browse by broad categories like art, history, or religion.

There are more focused collections in Biblioboard that you can explore as well. You can browse through books and images, for example, from the Art Nouveau or American Craftsman movements, pulp-era comic books, or illustrated editions of Alice in Wonderland, even browse historic wallpaper samples or examine documents related to the nineteenth-century obsession with mesmerism, if you’re so inclined.

Download short fiction on ProQuest

At the library, we use ProQuest most often to find newspaper articles, academic papers, television transcripts, industry reports, and the like. We rarely think of ProQuest as a source for fiction; however, if you click on the publications link in ProQuest, you can browse through current and back issues of a number of periodicals that regularly publish short stories.

For example, you can browse literary short fiction and poetry from journals like The Hudson Review, world literature from World Literature Today, children’s stories from Highlights for Children, or speculative fiction from Analog and The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Protip: If you just want to see the most recent fiction rather than browse a specific periodical, you can also type DTYPE(fiction) and FTANY(yes) in the search box and order your results by most recent to see all the newest stories in the database. That particular search string tells ProQuest to retrieve all full-text documents with the “document type” of fiction.

Read eBooks on hoopla

We frequently post here about streaming movies and music available on hoopla, but there are plenty of eBooks available to read as well. If you’re used to OverDrive, hoopla eBooks work a bit differently. We don’t purchase individual titles the way we do with OverDrive; we get a package of titles based on what hoopla has been able to negotiate with individual publishers. Members are limited to ten checkouts a month, but any number of individuals can have the same title checked out simultaneously. In other words, there’s never a wait list.

The selection can be a bit eclectic, so sometimes it’s easier to browse by a publisher that interests you rather than searching for an individual title. Check out the Disney Book Group, for example, for movie tie-ins, including the new children’s novelizations of the original Star Wars trilogy, and other popular kid’s titles, including the complete Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

There are smaller niche publishers too, like anarchist publisher PM Press, whose titles include subjects like punk history, sustainable eating, and DIY culture; or speculative fiction publisher Night Shade Books, whose publications include the annual Best Horror of the Year and Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year collections of short fiction. Also check out Sourcebooks’ selection of romance novels by authors like Georgette Heyer or Amanda Forester; Rodale’s books on exercise, diet, and healthy living; or Hunter Publishing’s guides for domestic and international travel destinations.


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