A Winter of This Content

A Winter of This Content

by Max Gulden

It’s that time of year again when the air starts to turn decidedly chillier and the threat of wintery weather becomes ever more pronounced. At the same time, there are always more errands to run and people to keep in touch with. If only there were some way to make managing these obligations more convenient from the comfort of one’s home and on the go on one’s phone. But wait, there is in the form of a variety of useful online databases freely available to Ames Public Library cardholders!

To access the library’s databases, navigate to amespl.org and select the “My Account” button. Then, log in using your library card number and PIN or password. (On some devices, you may need to double tap the “My Account” button to access the login screen). If you are new to the library, you can also register for a free account online to get immediate access to many online library resources without even coming into the library itself. Once you log in, click or tap the menu “Learn and Explore” (on some devices, you may need to select the “More” or “Menu” button first) and then select the option “Online Learning.” This will load an alphabetical list of library databases to choose from, as well as a filtering tool to help you find the databases you need. On some devices, you may need to scroll or swipe down to see the database list.

One excellent resource provided by the library is access to the online version of Consumer Reports. The online version of Consumer Reports features well-researched, timely, and unbiased content much as in the print editions, while also offering easy-to-use searching and browsing functionalities. Consumer Reports content includes thousands of specific product reviews, detailed buying guides broken down by various product categories, and a wide range of articles on topics that can be extremely helpful to those in the market for consumer goods and services.

On the Consumer Reports homepage, finding what you need can be as simple as entering the type of product that interests you into the search bar or browsing the curated lists of product categories. You also have access to current and archived articles published in the print version of the magazine through the “Current Issue” and “CR Digital Archive” links near the bottom of the homepage. There’s no need to worry about finding the specific issue you need in your stack of magazines or on the library shelf. Whether you are trying to find a review for a new or used vehicle, need to compare different brands of batteries, or want to check up on the latest news about product recalls, Consumer Reports online has you covered.

Another useful resource provided by the library is the database Reference Solutions (formerly known as Reference USA). Reference Solutions compiles, verifies, and organizes a wide range of information useful for individuals and businesses. One convenient tool in the Reference Solutions package is its verified database of individual residential data. This includes the information one would find in a traditional phone book yet also much more, all in an easily searchable form that includes listings for millions of people across the country. Reference Solutions has a similar database for businesses that can stand in for traditional yellow pages. Conveniently, the Reference Solutions business database is categorized by NAICS and SIC industry classifications, so you can use its “Advanced Search” tab to search for all the businesses of a certain type you might want to buy from or sell to in a given geographical area. There’s no need to collect the printed phone books for each town or city where you need to contact individuals or businesses any longer, as Reference Solutions has all you would find in traditional phone books and so much more.

So, whether you need to select a product or business for your upcoming shopping or entrepreneurial endeavors, or if you want to reach out to a friend or relative whose contact info you’ve misplaced, the library has resources that can help you out.