From the October, 1998 PC ALAMODE Magazine:
The Enchilada Red Web Site
 
by Michelle Jeske

When is the last time you visited a library? If it has been awhile, you may be surprised to find that libraries are pretty high-tech these days.

 The San Antonio Public Library provides an online catalog, electronic databases, and access to the Internet at the Central Library and all 18 branches. Even if you regularly use the library, you may not be aware that you can access many of these same resources without leaving your home, school, or office. The San Antonio Public Library is on the World Wide Web with a lot to offer you. 

The Library's public access catalog provides an online catalog of all library materials, including books, videotapes, audiotapes, and compact discs. You can access SAPLweb, the Library's web-based catalog, at http://www.saplweb.sat.lib.tx.us/ or by clicking the Catalog link on the library's homepage at http://www.sat.lib.tx.us

SAPLweb is a true virtual library tool, presenting a powerful and easy-to-use gateway to library catalogs across the country. SAPLweb was designed to provide powerful access and retrieval to all library users, regardless of their skill level or the complexity of their information needs. In the near future, the library will be offering a new version of SAPLweb, which will provide access to the catalog in both English and Spanish. This newer version will also feature a more attractive interface and better access to patron library card information. 

Whether you are seeking journal articles for a homework assignment or performing consumer research on new cars, you can do it using the Library's other tools. Again, go to http://www.saplweb.sat.lib.tx.us/, and this time, select Magazine and Reference Information. Clicking this button opens a window to a wide variety of resources including thousands of periodical titles. You will see a choice of three databases: ProQuest Direct, KidsQuest, and GaleNet. Due to licensing requirements, you will need a valid library card to access any of the library's online databases from a location outside of the San Antonio Public Library.

 ProQuest Direct offers access to over 5,000 periodicals, including 150 full-text newspapers. This database covers consumer, health, business, and general periodicals. At the beginning of your session, select the database(s) most relevant to your searching needs: general reference, newspapers, business, children's titles, or all of the above. 

Getting results with ProQuest Direct is simple. Just enter a word or phrase and the system does the work for you. As an alternative to entering keywords or phrases, try the Subject List for quick and easy searching. With each search, ProQuest Direct displays a list of the articles it has found and their available viewing formats. Simply click an article to view it on the screen. Or, add it to your marked list and retrieve it later. You can also e-mail it to yourself or someone else and even print it out.

 The Text+Graphics viewing format gives you the article text plus thumbnail versions of photos, charts, tables, illustrations, and other graphic elements. Click on the thumbnails to automatically enlarge them. The Page Image format provides you scanned pages of the article as it was originally published, with all charts, photos, and other graphical materials, and all article text. You can display page images, enlarge or reduce them, and print them, all using the free Adobe Acrobat(tm) Reader, which is available at http://www.adobe.com

Use ProQuest Direct's Advanced tab for building customized searches. If you are not familiar with the use of fields or operators available in Advanced Search, a Search Wizard is accessible from the Search by Word - Basic screen. The Search Wizard will walk you through the use of any ProQuest Direct field, operator, or date restriction feature with helpful examples and links to relevant sections of the online Help. There are many other interesting features which you can explore on your own. These features and others are described in the Help section. Simply click Help on any screen to receive instructions and guidance. To return to the San Antonio Public Library's homepage, simply click the link located at the top of the ProQuest Direct screen. 

If you have children, you might be interested in the children's magazine database, KidsQuest. Featuring lively icons, vibrant colors and a jungle theme, this database includes full-text articles from titles such as Boys' Life, Jack and Jill, and Ranger Rick. Your child simply clicks an icon that makes him or her think of the kind of article he or she wants to read. From there, the child views a list of topics that are about things, places, people, or ideas all related to the main topic, and so on, until he or she reaches an article of interest. 

The other database available over the Library's web site is GaleNet, which includes Literary Resource Center and Discovering Biography. Literary Resource Center provides users with a first stop for literary research on writers and books from every genre and era while Discovering Biography includes information on over 2,000 of the most frequently studied individuals from ancient times to the present. Both of these databases are completely full-text and wonderful tools for homework assignments. 

If you need help using any of these databases or SAPLweb, ask for assistance at your nearest library location. If you are new to the Web, you might consider taking an Internet class, offered on a regular basis at the Central Library and at three schools in the North East Independent School District. While these classes don't focus specifically on these tools, you will explore the Internet with expert guidance and can ask questions about the catalog or databases. These classes are free and open to the public. For more information, please call (210) 207-2500. 

Michelle Jeske is the Electronic Resources Coordinator for the San Antonio Public Library