While I was in Phoenix, I worked with the State Library facillitating a discussion about the cost and use of leased databases. Jen Maney from Pima County Public Library was there and asked me to follow up with an interview at SLJ:
Here’s part of the back & forth:
JM: In our discussion, things like content, scope, credibility, and ease and extent of access came up as some of the reasons that databases are valuable for libraries. What do you see as the strengths of subscription databases?
MS: The deep content springs to mind first and the fact that there is information in leased databases not available on the free Web. All of the things you listed above are important—especially for research uses by K–12 students, undergrads, master’s students, and doctoral students, too.
JM: You know this one is coming…. What about the weaknesses?
MS: Here’s where the breakdown occurs. In our discussion that day, I guided the group through some OCLC and PEW reports that painted a very different picture for public libraries offering access. The Perceptions report noted 30 percent of respondents did not know what “electronic information resources” are and that 84 percent of folks start their research with search engines. They do not surf to their library’s Web page and look for a link to “Online Databases” or “Electronic Reference.” It’s a scary thing but true.