Friday, 18 January 2013 08:52

Library patrons can access vast database of newspapers

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Public library users across Alberta now have access to more than 1,200 newspapers from around the world, thanks to an investment by the Alberta government.


Press Display is an electronic resource which provides library membership holders with online access to a databank of newspapers. It includes newspapers from 94 countries in 48 languages. More than 290 Canadian newspapers are online including full versions of the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal, the Sun media, as well as The Globe and Mail and National Post.
“We’re grateful to receive the Press Display licence for our Shortgrass public libraries,” says Petra Mauerhoff, Shortgrass CEO. “It is a wonderful opportunity to enhance access to meaningful electronic resources for our patrons.”
By accessing the site online (http://shortgrass.ca/ library-pressdisplay), readers can see full-colour, full-format newspapers. The program runs on a range of platforms including PC, Mac, iPhones and Blackberries.
The Alberta government provided $310,000 to the Alberta Public Library Electronic Network, an integral part of The Alberta Library (TAL) consortium, for the two-year Press Display license.
Prior to having access to this database, most library users could only read newspapers in their paper form in libraries which carried subscriptions.
“We did have other (electronic) databases with newspapers in them, but the interface was bad,” explains Mauerhoff. “(Press Display) has a nice full colour interface and is really easy to use. (It) shows the way the page would look if you had the paper in hand.”
What is even more exciting for library members is newcomers to Alberta communities can read newspapers from their homelands in their native languages and stay on top of the happenings.
“For example, Brooks sees so many newcomers and new Canadians and people who want to stay in touch with their country,” says Mauerhoff.
Through Press Display, these people will be able to do just that and all for the small price of an annual library membership.
In turn, the large population of low-German Mennonites who reside in southern Alberta, can access news in their own language through the database.
Individuals who are learning a new language can also benefit. It is hard for libraries to provide materials in all languages, but through Press Display, people learning Spanish or German would be able to access interesting reading material in those languages to help with their learning process.
“The nice thing for us is, this is provided through us for free through a grant for two years,” says Mauerhoff. She hopes if usage is high enough to warrant it, Press Display will continue to remain a fixture after that time period.
“It’s pretty exciting. It really is difficult in most libraries to provide materials in languages other than English. To have this resource is so great.”
In the first nine days of the service, 30 people in the Shortgrass Library System had accessed Press Display, reading 19 different newspapers.
Anyone who does not have a library membership can be issued a temporary card through Shortgrass for a few days, to be able to access Press Display. Then an annual library membership is required from an Alberta library to access the database.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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