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Two years ago I wrote about the eResources which were the personal favourites of our Reference Librarians. I thought it was time to ask the question again, to see if there were any new favourites...
You can access all of these services by visiting our eResources portal and searching for each resource under the Databases A-Z tab.
The Pictures and Manuscripts Branch will often receive questions about the value of artworks people have found in their attic, pulled from the back of the cupboard or, have hung with care on the study wall. Unfortunately the Library doesn't provide a valuation service for any type of material.
But there is help!
First, we have an FAQ that may provide some answers: Can the library value an item for me ?
Second, the National Library subscribes to two art databases Australian Art Sales Digest and Australian Art Auction Records. These resources allow you to search sales figures for many Australian and New Zealand artists, which can help with estimating a current value. There are also biographies of the artists and some records include images, so you can compare your treasure with other works by the artist.
Not just for art buffs, these databases are also helpful for family historians with an artist in their family tree. For example, I discovered in the Australian Art Sales Digest that a landscape painted in 1889 by a great-uncle on my father's side sold for $5,400 in 2008.
The greatest gift of the Enlightenment was the preservation of such a large body of literature, written by so many authors, on so many small pieces of paper. Captured by cheap presses and spread in the streets, the practice of pamphleteering reached its height in the 18th century.
Essays by Paine, Kant, Newton, Rousseau, Defoe and Voltaire were spread by hand, underhand and under the table, irrevocably altering the minds of their readers. This diverse range of impressions, ideologies and ideals are captured as digital copies in Eighteenth Century Collections Online. You can search for any title or author through our catalogue, then view the copies online, or download them for later.
My favourite pamphlet is the satirical Modest proposal of Jonathan Swift, in which the author suggests a novel method of reducing the population of impoverished children while simultaneuosly increasing the supply of meat for the gentry. Reproduced from an original 1729 printing, the ghoulish proposal is replete with stylised lettering, unnecessary consonants and of course the gorgeous long 'ſ'.
If you are looking for something a bit more modern, check out Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Earlier ? Try Early English Books Online.
I was a health librarian in a previous life, so my favourite resources focus on health and wellbeing. I often speak with people who (as most of us do) have turned to Dr Google to find health information. They were understandably shocked to discover that Google diagnosed their headache symptoms as brain tumours, meningitis or any number of other unlikely possibilities.
Googling is fast. Thousands of results are available almost instantly but the results can be incorrect and sometimes, downright dangerous. My favourite databases bring together complete, thorough health information and answers that can be trusted. Best of all they are freely accessible to anyone.
Need information about Australia’s health stats? Want to see the most current elective surgery waiting times? Looking for educational resources about chronic disease management? The free Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website is rich with statistics and data. It brings together information about topics as diverse as ageing, population health, major health conditions and mortality.
The site includes a range of authoritative reports and information products. The AIHW releases around 150 publications every year. Its two flagship publications Australia's health and Australia's welfare are topical, timely and engaging. Best of all, AIHW publications are available as free downloads from the website.
For the latest most reliable research worldwide it is hard to go past the Cochrane library Online with topics ranging from minor allergies to major illnesses. It’s a regularly updated collection of international, evidence-based medicine databases. The site features over 1,000 journals, major reference works, online books, current protocols and databases. You can also work out whether the latest health fad is fact or fiction with Cochrane’s unbiased, comprehensive and rigorous reviews.
With a collection as large as the Library’s (around 10 million items) it can be a bit of challenge to browse in the way that bibliophiles often do; the thrill of discovery, the serendipitous find that we weren’t expecting. It’s almost half the experience!
Ebsco ebooks is one of my favourite platforms for this type of browsing. It’s home to thousands of non-fiction titles, spanning topics as diverse as philosophy, cooking, history, arts, architecture, sports and much, much more. It’s where I found The Rise and Fall of Olympic Amateurism, Inside the Video Game Industry, The Untold Story of the Talking Book and The Colonial Kitchen : Australia 1788-1901. There’s even a highlights and featured ebooks section with beautiful book covers on display. Best of all, it’s open to everyone with a Library card from the National Library of Australia, so I can make recommendations to friends and family interstate, or just read them at my desk at home...
Not sure where to start your research? Ask a Librarian.