Nothing stirs the old Hoosier pride like the Indiana State Fair! I admit: I get a big kick out of all those exhibits – and the annual reminder of our state’s economic, educational, and agricultural successes they represent. But while the soy bean, State Soil (Miami), and blue-ribbon pie are grabbing the limelight during the month of August, another, lesser-known (but equally pride-worthy) resource quietly stands by, 24/7, ready to serve at a moment’s notice.
So what is this State Secret? It’s INSPIRE, of course: Indiana’s Virtual Library, a freely-available, Internet-accessible array of information resources to help researchers, writers, and explorers of all ages find the answers they need to questions of all sorts. INSPIRE’s databases contain the full text (or helpful summaries) of magazine, newspaper, and scholarly journal articles; images; pamphlets; and more. Students, professionals, and ordinary Indiana citizens alike can search to their hearts’ content… and actually find what they’re looking for, too!
You may ask, “I’ve got Google. Why bother with INSPIRE?” The difference between the two can be summed up in a word: control. A typical search engine search yields millions of hits, many of which are irrelevant, inaccurate, or worse. Database users, on the other hand, can control their searches using descriptors – or limit results by using any number of other criteria, for example. The organization inherent in databases translates into more relevant results, according to University Library at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Another bonus: “The content of databases has undergone a review process and the information is more reliable than information found on the internet,” the library’s website adds.*
Previous Psssssst!s have emphasized the importance of tapping into the “world of scholarship,” and of using multiple sources and search strategies, to find the best information for a particular purpose. INSPIRE databases allow Indiana citizens to do just that – free of charge! The fair may be heating up and the summer winding down, but INSPIRE databases are always ready when you are. Need help? Contact Scholar’s Secret anytime!
* Source: How Databases and Search Engines Differ, http://www.library.illinois.edu/ugl/howdoi/compare1.html, accessed July 31, 2011.