The Carson City Library recently made significant additions to its computer-based offerings, with a wider selection of electronic reference sources and wireless Internet access.
"There's a whole group of people who don't realize what the library can do for them," said Susan Antipa, reference librarian. "You can look up information from home in your bathrobe, or from your office."
Library cardholders have been able to do some things using the Internet for a while, such as checking their accounts, renewing the loan for a book or DVD, and accessing several Web sites and targeted databases. Fiction lovers can go online and find help in choosing a good read.
The library's online reference offerings greatly expanded, however, with the Gale Virtual Reference Library.
Thomson Gale publishes reference guides. The library has a long list of the company's books on its shelves representing a variety of disciplines, such as health, medicine, science, art, history, business and biographies. The library's online selection from Gale duplicates its hard-copy offerings from the publisher's parent company.
It's not only a convenience - this is online information that adheres to more traditional research standards usually reserved for printed reference guides. While the Internet provides information about almost everything, finding accurate information sources can be tricky sometimes.
"This is material that is well researched and verified by experts," Antipa said. "It's very exciting."
She cited Wikipedia as just one example of online information that's sometimes not up to professional or scholarly standards. That online encyclopedia has come under fire because of inaccuracies and wide-open access to the selections.
The Gale online reference database was paid for using mostly state collection development grant was a "crucial source of funds," she said.
Cardholders can get to it through the library's Web site, http://www.carson-city.nv.us/Index.aspx?page=451. It will also require the number below bar code on the back of your library card.
"We want to know what people think about it, and if they're having trouble using it," she said.
Wireless online access for laptop computer users also started about two weeks ago, after people had asked about it repeatedly during the past couple of years, Antipa said.
"We're a hotspot now," Antipa said.
Cardholders can bring their laptop computers in and access the Internet. Visitors can also use it, but need to consult with staff to obtain a connection.
Demand for it has been greatest on Saturdays because the State Library and Archives, another public provider, is closed, for example.
Newcomers can pick up a leaflet that provides information and an explanation on how to get connected to the service.
Access through the library is free. It's hosted by the Cooperative Libraries Automated Network, which serves Nevada's rural public libraries.
Both of these additions not only provide library users with more convenience and options, they reduce the wait for use of the library's public computers, Antipa added.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.