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July 6, 2005

Reference eBooks through University library

Ebook gif

Here's a nice reference option I stumbled upon at the U of Minnesota's libraries that I thought I'd share.

I'm doing a little preliminary data analysis now. Well, mostly cleaning up the database and seeing what's there. I decided to use MS Access for these simple database management tasks. It's been a long while since I've used Access and I forgot some of the basic language the program uses for running queries. I wasn't up for trying to navigate the program's "help" so I did a little search on the University library's web page. I thought I might dash over to the library and look a few things up. It turns out I didn't have to leave my chair...

The library has a subscription to netLibrary.com, an eBook web site with a built-in reader and note-taker. I could just "check out" an Access reference book and do a search for the query language I was looking for right on my laptop. So cool! But there are some drawbacks. Here are some pointers:

You need to have a University account (except for the public titles--see below).

In addition, you need to create a separate netLibrary account to read the eBooks -- see this FAQ for instructions.

Mostly, the library's eBooks are reference and how-to books, although netLibrary has 3400 books that are publicly accessible to everyone.

The search function at netLibrary is good, but the browsing function is a bit limited. You can browse titles under broad categories like Agriculture, Arts, Chemistry, etc., but it doesn't seem like all 7411 available books (including the public ones) fit under these categories.

Once you find a title you're interested in, you can add it to your list for easy reference or check it out immediately (under the "eContent Details" tab). Only one person can read a certain title at a time, so netLibrary manages this by allowing you access to it for 4-hour intervals.

The reading interface is less than ideal. Your browser screen is split into two panes -- a tool pane on the left and the book content pane on the right. While you can slide the divider to make the book content pane larger, it still doesn't seem like enough room for large books like computer program manuals.

Some of the features: the ability to add notes (limited to a title and 500 word content); a content search function; and an integrated dictionary, encyclopedia, web, and eContnet search functions by highlighting a word and right-clicking.

Happy reading!

Posted by rigd0003 at July 6, 2005 10:49 AM | Cool web stuff | PhD Process


thanks for posting that -- I find the help function in Access pretty unhelpful especially for writing SQL queries.

Very useful to be able to look it up without going to the library, or browsing websites for sample code.

Posted by: Evan at July 13, 2005 1:50 PM

Thanks for posting this. I had a similar need for answers about Access that the "UnHelp" menu couldn't answer. Off to NetLibrary, as it were.


Posted by: Evan at July 13, 2005 2:02 PM