A Beautiful MAGNOLIA

There are some things that Mississippi does right.  One of them concerns remote access to electronic databases.  For those non-library people reading this blog, the word “database” in this context refers to a service that gives patrons access to electronic versions of scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers.  The largest collection is run by a company known as EBSCO.  When logged in, the user can search for articles based on keywords, title, author, etc. . They come in real handy when you have a paper to write.

The thing about these databases is that they’re proprietary – and very expensive.   Most colleges subscribe to at least a few, but once you graduate that privilege disappears.  Therefore many states have services available to their residents that allow them to access certain databases from the comfort of their own home.  In New York it is known as the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library or NOVELny for short.  According to their website, its aim is to “create a library without walls” that is accessible to all New Yorkers.  About 11 databases are included providing access to a respectable array of resources covering general reference, business, medicine, and more.  For people with limited access to online resources, NOVELny is no doubt useful.

As you might have guessed, Mississippi has its own online resource center known as the Mississippi Alliance for Gaining New Opportunities Through Library Information Access.  It is popularly known as MAGNOLIA.  The premise is the same as NOVELny, but the scope is broader.  Through the program, Mississippi residents have access to more than 50 databases encompassing subjects such as business, education, medicine, science, the humanities, and more. 

Admittedly the comparison is not entirely fair.  New Yorkers have access to thousands of databases through the New York State Library.   The catch is that only those who work for the State Government can access them outside the library itself. Mississippi on the other hand does not seem to have its own State Library so unless your a college student MAGNOLIA provides the only databases you can use.   Nevertheless while Mississippi does not have as many library resources as New York, those it does have are more widely available as the above comparison shows.  Furthermore MAGNOLIA is supported mostly (though not entirely) by the State Legislature.  NOVELny, however, seems to be largely supported by federal money thus putting it at the mercy of Congress’ generosity.

Mississippi continues to surprise me.  The state is not first in many things and level of funding for libraries is probably not one of them.  But the state has made an effort to spend what it can as effectively as possible.  This thus proves that the picture is far more complicated than the numbers show.

External Links
MAGNOLIA: http://magnolia.msstate.edu/index.asp
NOVELny:    http://novelnewyork.org/index.php

Article by Mike

Mike is the Head of Discovery Services for the Delta State University Library. He has lived in Cleveland since May 2013.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nine − 8 =