Jo Budler, Kansas State Librarian, conducted the first (of many) focus groups today at NEKLS to discuss and gather feedback on database licensing and prioritization.  Jo gave us an overview of the history, funding and decision-making process of the past and shared her vision for a more participatory and thoughtful process for the future.  Today’s group represented many large public, school and academic libraries, so I put on my ‘small public librarian’ hat and spoke up in favore of topics like Reader’s Advisory and Consumer Information (like Consumer Reports).  After Jo’s pep-talk, we papered the wall with flip-chart sheets full of  topic suggestions (from Auto Maintenance to History to Language Learning Suite), then brainstormed possible vendors (the big three being Ebsco, Gale and ProQuest), and finally used our 8 red dot stickers to vote for our favorites.  The top-vote-getters from this morning were:

  • Student Research
  • Reader’s Advisory
  • Language Learning Suite
  • Business
  • Nursing
  • Newspaper archives
After this interesting and enlightening process (during which I learned about a slew of FREE databases that I will post to the My Kansas Library on the Web site), we had a great discussion about how we can ‘sell’ the value of subscription databases to our patrons and how to coordinate use statistics among libraries to help with the decision-making process.  NEKLS will help with the second (you know how much I love statistics) and I am curious to hear from libraries about how databases are used and promoted to teachers, patrons, students and administrators.
For starters, how do you talk about the databases to patrons or students?  Do you call them ‘online resources’ or ‘eContent’ or ‘reference databases’?  Do you talk about how authoritative, accurate, up-to-date and trustworthy they are, especially compared to a general ‘Google’ search?   Next, what stories can you share about how Chilton’s (or HeritageQuest or Health and Wellness Resource Center) has saved the day?  Has someone come in with a “Thank you” for showing them LearningExpress?  Who’s shared how the ProQuest Nursing Journals helped them with a career change?
Also, if you are not an active user of databases (either free or provided by the State Library) – why not?  What can we do to help you learn about them and about reference services in general?
I look forward to hearing from you!