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January 31, 2006 > Your local library: Check it out!

Your local library: Check it out!

by Sallie Pine, Reference Services Manager, Alameda County Library

It's 9:00 at night. How can I help my child find pro and con arguments on the topic of capital punishment? Has there been research to document the thought that more seniors pass away during the holidays at the end of the year than at other times? How can I build a list of dry cleaning businesses in the Tri-City area to which I might sell my new product? How can I get a value for the stock I sold three years ago? You may want to contact the Alameda County Library for answers to these and all kinds of questions.

This is the debut of a new monthly column about the services, upcoming programming and materials you have access to through your local library. You can take advantage of many of them using your home computer, as long as you have a library card. All of the questions above were answered using databases to which the library subscribes and makes available to you through its website, In each column, we're planning to feature a "database of the month." We will let you know what it does, how to get to it, and some tricks for getting the most out of it.

We will also include information about some of the services and programs the library offers which might not be familiar to you. In upcoming columns, you will read about Ask A Librarian, Bookleggers, Write to Read, Hotwheels, equipment and materials designed for people with disabilities, and future events such as book discussion groups, films, and lectures. We may also preview planned programs on stress relief, disaster preparedness, and painting, to name a few.

Database of the Month: InfoTrac OneFile

This is one of our most popular databases, as it includes content from 1980 to the present from 5,156 full-text titles, plus 89 wire services covering worldwide current events. It gives broad coverage of general interest topics, current affairs, popular culture, health and medicine, business, and academic disciplines. It is updated every day.

To explore this resource, you'll need a library card. If you don't have one, go to, and click on the Get a Library Card link under the Using Your Library heading. Print out a copy of the registration form and bring it with you to any Alameda County Library branch with some identification showing your name and current address.

To get into the database, click on the Articles & Databases link under the Research Center heading. Then click on Magazines, Journals and Newspaper Articles. InfoTrac OneFile is the first database listed. Click on the link, and you will get a box prompting you for the 14-digit library card number on the back of your card. Type it in, and you are there.

On Jan. 3, the search using the words "human cloning" with a limit to full text returned 1,208 articles, including reports from Newsweek, Transplant News, America's Intelligence Wire (from Financial Times) and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Reliable information, 24/7, brought to you by your library. Check it out!

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