Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Your Online Reference Shelf: Gale Virtual Reference Library

Did you know you have an entire collection of reference books you can read wherever you have an internet connection and library card? For the last several years, the library has offered hundreds of electronic reference books through databases like Literati by Credo, Infobase, and Gale Virtual Reference Library. These are just like the books you'll find on the reference shelves at the library--same words, same pictures, same respected authors and publishers--they're just in electronic format. You can read them on your computer, your tablet, or your smartphone. Now we've dramatically expanded our e-book collection in Gale Virtual Reference Library to include over 3,500 e-books.

To get started, go to the library's homepage at, click "Research" on the navigation bar, and then "Databases by Name." Now click on Gale Virtual Reference Library (or you can get there directly by entering in your address bar.)

As you can see, the e-books are arranged by subject headings on the left side of the page. You can browse the subjects to see which books look interesting, but one great advantage of e-books over print is that you can search hundreds of them in just a few seconds. Just go to the search box at the top of the page and start typing. 

Since the Fourth of July is coming up, let's type in "Declaration of Independence." This gives us results from a wide range of reference books. If we click on the first article, in the Gale Encyclopedia of American Law, we see a page like this:

Notice at the top right that you can choose between a text version and a PDF version. If you want to see the article exactly as it appears in the print version of the book, click the PDF button. There are also buttons above the article that let you print, email or download it, or even listen to an audio version. If you're using the article for a school paper, you can click "Citation Tools" to automatically generate citations for the end of the paper. This highlights a huge advantage over websites like Wikipedia--most teachers won't let you cite Wikipedia or other websites you find in a Google search. The reference articles in GVRL are citeable. They come from books by respected publishers, and they're written by recognized experts; not anonymous volunteers.

With Gale Virtual Reference Library and our other e-book databases, you have an entire reference shelf as close as your computer or mobile device, and it's available any time of day or night. If you use a tablet or smartphone, you may want to go to your app store and download the Access My Library app. It gives you quick access to all library's Gale databases, including all the reference books in Gale Virtual Reference Library. It's a reference shelf in your pocket.

As always, if you have any questions, call the Reference Department at 876-5861, ex. 2. Enjoy your newly expanded reference collection!