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The Growing Popularity of Online Libraries

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Online libraries are an incredible resource for students and lifelong learners alike. They range in sophistication from card catalog – type listings from small public libraries, to the virtually bottomless information from the Library of Congress, where you can download papers, photographs and other media.The online library Questia – which charges for access–  offers books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences, along with magazine and newspaper articles. You can read book titles cover-to-cover, search and take notes. You’ll pay from around $20 monthly or $99 a year for the privilege.

It won’t cost you a dime to visit websites for 13 presidential libraries, administered by the National Archives, which itself is a vast resource for exploring America’s history. The digital collection at the John F. Kennedy Library, announced in January 2011, is the largest online digitized archive of any former U.S. president. The library has put thousands of papers, photographs and recordings online, marking the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s inauguration. Students, teachers, researchers and members of the public can search, browse and retrieve original documents from the collection.

[Related Article: Make Your Online Librarian Your New Best Friend] 

The numbers and standards for online libraries are in flux and will grow with time, as will the expectations of users. If you are a student, you need libraries with a wealth of scholarly journals – from 20,000 to 25,000 titles, with a significant number in your field of study. Such peer-reviewed journals are at the heart of modern scholarship.  It’s not surprising, then, that college students have the highest rate of library use and make the broadest use of library resources, both physical and electronic (according to research from the non-profit Online Computer Library Center).   The best online university libraries are not only easy to navigate, they come with human help – real librarians who can help point students to trusted resources. 

 For students at American Public University  and American Military University, library professionals are just an e-mail away. Both universities are part of the American Public University System (APUS). “With the right ‘pathfinder’ librarians, students can find whatever resource they need, wherever in the world it was published or discussed,” says Fred Stielow, Dean of Libraries at APUS. 

“Getting to that resource is the key. The right librarian makes all the difference in making the journey a rewarding learning experience.”

If you’re considering an online university, check out its library. Ask if the school offers online writing and math help, electronic plagiarism checkers, automated reference and note programs, or other study help. Finally, check out the credentials of the librarians. Do they have multiple graduate degrees or exceptional service records? These professionals are normally the most versed in Web Information Literacy – as well as approachable high-touch specialists to help with your studies.

[Related Article: How to Find Scholarly Research Online]

-Online Learning Tips Staff

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