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Did You Know about These Reference E-books?

March 21, 2014 by Reader's Connection

The library subscribes to many online databases that contain information not available through an Internet search. If you haven’t already used Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL), here’s a quick tour of what’s available in this database and where to find it on our website.

gvrlYou may have noticed that the print reference collections in our branches are much smaller than they used to be. This is a result of widespread access to information through the Internet – so much information is now available at your fingertips that once could only be found in print reference collections. However, there is still a need for authoritative sources of information, especially for school use, and sometimes in-depth information is needed that is more likely found in books than articles.

gvrlOver the past few years, reference collections in the library have gradually been making a transition from print to electronic formats, and GVRL provides many of the types of titles that would have been found in our reference areas. GVRL contains eBooks, but it can be searched as a database, a huge advantage over print versions of reference books. And there are other benefits – materials are available to all patrons simultaneously, through multiple devices, 24/7. Students are sometimes required to have at least one book source for a report or paper, and these digital versions of print resources fit the bill, as they are actual reproductions of the books that we used to have on the shelves, if one selects the PDF version.

e&audioTo get started, go to and click on ‘eBooks and Audiobooks,’ which is on the left side under ‘The Entertainment’ (you can also access GVRL from our database page at ).




This will take you to our ‘Downloadables’ page. Once there, scroll down to the ‘Articles & Reference’ section, and you’ll be able to click on ‘Gale Virtual Reference Library’. If you’re accessing from outside the library, you’ll have to sign in with your library card and pin numbers.





Here’s what you’ll see when you first get into the database:into_gvrl4
On the left, you can see the various subject arrangements – you can pull up all the titles in that subject area and search just within them. Or you can just jump in and start your search using the search box at the top.

For example, let’s suppose that you’re a student who’s doing a report on the Potawatomi Indians, one of the Native American tribes associated with Indiana. If you type in Potawatomi in the search box, you come up with a number of articles.

Here’s just part of what you’ll see:potawatomi5

potawatomi_headingI chose an article from an encyclopedia further down the list, and when I pull up the article, the heading gives me the source information, and lets me know the article is 16 pages long.

Under the heading, there’s a breakdown of the topics that I could click on directly, or I can just start reading the article.


You can also click on all kinds of related subjects, shown in the left-hand column.


Let’s try another topic that illustrates how to search within one subject area. Back on the GVRL home page, click on one of the subjects shown on the GVRL home page – we’ll try ‘Medicine’:







Notice the box just above the book cover images on the right that says ‘Search within Medicine.’


Let’s use ‘thyroid’ as our search term, and here’s our result:


You can see that there’s a lot of information available, and you can limit your search in various ways by selecting limiters in the left-hand column. All of the books, and the articles within them, provide citations for bibliographic purposes (again, very handy for students).
There is so much information in the ebooks found in this database.

However, there are some differences when compared to our other ebook sources such as Overdrive. While you can download specific articles or sections, you can’t download an entire ebook (would you really want to try and put an entire encyclopedia on your phone or tablet?).

On the plus side, GVRL provides machine-translated versions of articles for languages such as Spanish, Chinese (both simplified and traditional), Russian, French, German, Japanese, and a number of others. You can also listen to an article, which is great for students who learn better by hearing than reading, or for people with visual impairments. We’ve just scratched the surface of what’s available in this database; enjoy exploring this great collection of online reference books further by watching this tutorial which covers the basics in more depth.


–Selector Kathy Barnard 



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