Alabama Virtual Library available for surfing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Students and parents of students have likely heard of the Alabama Virtual Library, but many may not know just how many resources are available to users.

“The Alabama Virtual Library will get you access to databases that you can’t access anywhere else,” said Crystal Dyer, Selma-Dallas County Public Library circulation coordinator

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The Alabama Virtual Library, or AVL, is a series of databases that

offer visitors a variety of resources in print and video.

Dyer said AVL is useful for students who are not able to buy a set of encyclopedias. “You get up-to-date information that comes from reputable resources,” Dyer said. “When you go online and do a search, the information that comes up may be outdated or not come from a reputable source. Wikipedia, for example, you can actually change it. A lot of students go there, but it is not a reputable source.”

The Student Resource Center is a tool that lets students search based on either elementary, middle, high school or college level.

The amount of resources can make the virtual library difficult to manage for students who have not yet reached their junior- or senior-level of high school Dyer said.

Students can do a search for full photos and video. If an individual were researching a topic for a paper or thesis, but wasn’t sure of an angle to take, there are resources that locate specific angles.

Back issues of newspapers and magazines are available in addition to current information.

The AVL is not just for students, but also for professionals and businesses, Dyer said. Businesses can search company profiles, and medical encyclopedias are available for those in the medical field.

There is also an auto repair reference center in the AVL that has information on cars going back to 1945, including specs, bulletins, recalls and comprehensive guides .

Patrons can type in a specific problem the car may be having, and the reference center will generate information about a solution.

To gain access to the Alabama Virtual Library, individuals need to visit the library and get an access card with a username and password. With the access card, the AVL can also be used at home.

Within the AVL world, changes have been taking place, including the addition of the Universal Encyclopedia in Spanish and a version targeted toward younger researchers.

This month, an index of facts and speeches of the American Presidents is available on the virtual library, and improvements have been made to the biography reference bank.

An AVL Council meeting, open to the public, will be held at 10:30 a.m. today at the Alabama Public Library Service in Montgomery.