If you are struggling to access decent resources while you’re working from home, here’s a quick overview of some of the resources from the Ottawa Public Library that might be of interest to you. You’ll need an active OPL library card for it to work, and if it prompts you for a PIN you don’t know, it is probably the last four digits of your phone number.
On the OPL website, choose Browse / Online Resources and then one of the following resources.
A. ACADEMIC ONEFILE
Many libraries offer access to online journal databases, and OPL has Academic OneFile. It is produced by GALE, and it is not a full replacement for what you might have from EBSCO or an academic library like Carleton or UOttawa. But it’s pretty good. Let’s work through a couple of examples.
If I search for something like “nudging”, the popular term for the more technical field of “choice architecture”, it finds:
- Academic Journals (2,906)
- Magazines (4,446)
- Books (37)
- News (14,843)
- Videos (5)
Of course, some of those materials are going to be behind additional paywalls, but most will be accessible. The above search brought up this one from an academic journal:
Supiano, Beckie. “When a Big Idea Falls Short: New studies cast doubt on how well ‘nudging’ can work nationally.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 66, no. 2, 13 Sept. 2019, p. A14+. Gale Academic OneFile, https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.biblioottawalibrary.ca/apps/doc/A601553086/AONE?u=otta35732&sid=AONE&xid=7e1f63ca. Accessed 23 Mar. 2020.
With the citation at the bottom that you can copy and paste as I did above. Clicking on magazines rather than academic journals, they had:
Johnstone, Megan-Jane. “The ethics of ‘nudging’.” Australian Nursing & Midwifery Journal, vol. 24, no. 6, Dec. 2016, p. 27. Gale Academic OneFile, https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.biblioottawalibrary.ca/apps/doc/A477459699/AONE?u=otta35732&sid=AONE&xid=13d033d5. Accessed 23 Mar. 2020.
If instead, I search for “retirement planning”, it finds:
- Academic Journals (3,143)
- Magazines (9,236)
- Books (27)
- News (23,072)
- Images (1)
- Videos (65)
In the videos, it has a range of esoteric ones from 2011 up to 2019.
While access to academic literature is great, there ar two downsides to the resource:
- Gale is not the biggest provider out there, and so you are not doing a truly global search, if that matters to your work. You are skewed only to those resources that Gale indexes and provides.
- There is no curation of results. In the videos, a huge portion of them are only going to be applicable to a select group, like a video on retirement planning under state law in California. The results are only as good as your own searching techniques. The best results MAY not be on the first page, since the algorithms for Gale are not as sophisticated as, say, Google itself. However, if you go to ADVANCED SEARCH, you can select other filters such as only PEER-REVIEWED journals, but that will drastically narrow your results while not necessarily improving your curation for relevance to your search.
But it’s a pretty good start for those needing to do research from home.
You can also use CANADIAN REFERENCE CENTRE, essentially EBSCO lite. Searching for “nudging” for example produced far fewer hits, but prioritized towards Canadian results.
Or, if you need more business-specific content, GALE ONEFILE BUSINESS targets material specifically related to business. It appears that all of the Business resources are in the general ONEFILE database, it just narrows it down as a filter to those resources more suited to business. Not a full curation, but a useful addition.
A similar filter exists for ENTREPRENEURSHIP.
B. BUSINESS WRITING FROM CLARITY
It requires Adobe Flash, but it is ten training modules/videos on who to improve your core skills for business writing.
C. CANADIAN MAJOR DAILIES (PROQUEST)
This leads you to a search engine for searching three separate databases together:
- Canadian Major Dailies (1985 – current) — Local and regional news coverage, newspapers
- ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Globe and Mail (1844 – 2015)
- SIRS Discoverer: An editorially curated collection that helps younger students complete their assignments by providing easy access to premium newspapers, magazines, images, and other kinds of great content.
While it sounds awesome, smaller sources outside of the large newspapers are hit and miss. For example, while it says it indexes the Peterborough Examiner, a search for a few family members comes up with nothing, even though they have been mentioned in the PE, even if just for their obituary.
Globe and Mail Historical (another resource) is basically the same as the second database above.
A third resource (New York Times) gives you separate access to the NYT full site with your library card.
A fourth resource (PressReader) gives you today’s dailies for Montreal Gazette, National Post, etc.
D. RB DIGITAL + ZINIO
These two are basically the same, just different versions of each other for name. They contain access to a lot of popular magazines — but while the full app has 100s if not 1000s of magazines, the OPL subscribes to about 100+. Still an impressive list, and you can download Zinio apps to your phone or tablet to read on the go. I don’t find much there for business use, more personal, but it does have Time, Newsweek, Macleans, etc.
E. REFERENCE GROUP – CANADIAN BUSINESSES
This provides a database of 2.5M Canadian businesses with lots of filters. If I search for Cdn businesses with more than 5000 employees, for example, I get a list of 302 companies. If I narrow that to finance / insurance / real estate, the number drops to 73. If I narrow further to just Manitoba, it shows me 2 — Great West and North West. If I revise and eliminate the sector filter, I go back up to 6. So six companies in Manitoba that have more than 5000 employees. Of course, that can be extremely misleading if it is just the HQ for a national company, but at least it’s a start. So if I was looking to know who’s doing what for big business in Manitoba for Covid-19, I have 6 companies to look at their websites to see what they’re saying. Not a bad tool, if you need a tool like that. By contrast, there are 39K companies in Manitoba with less than 4 employees, just for a quick comparison to see how the tool works. Each one has more detailed info on the company in terms of contact information (address, phone, etc.).