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Westerly Sun Column

September 8, 2014

By Nina Wright, Reference Librarian


You may know that Westerly Library is part of a consortium, Ocean State Libraries (OSL). What that means is that we all share some resources--the OSL consortium is what allows Westerly patrons to order books and other items from any Rhode Island library and have them delivered within a few business days to Westerly. Another benefit is that we can subscribe as a group to online databases, which enables us to get them at a lower price. This is a great deal for our library patrons—for the cost of a library card (completely free to RI and Stonington residents) you can connect from anywhere you can get on the Internet and use these fabulous resources.


To get to these databases, you would go through Rhode Island’s Statewide Reference Resource Center, more commonly known as AskRI. To access it, just go to the library’s catalog ( and click on Reference Resource Center, or type into your Internet browser. Rhode Island public librarians have tried to offer something for everyone with these databases.


AskRI’s offerings include HeritageQuest, a genealogy research tool, Reference USA, which provides detailed information for more than 20 million businesses, and Ebsco, which is great for research papers, since it has thousands of full-text journal articles. Ebsco also has an Auto Repair Reference Center which is wonderful for people who like to work on their cars—it provides maintenance schedules and wiring diagrams, for example.


One of the more popular databases is Mango Languages. Mango offers lessons for languages such as French and Spanish, but there are many more unusual options like Arabic, Hebrew, and Farsi (Persian). It’s divided into lessons, so you can learn at your own pace whenever you have a few minutes to spare. Creating a profile takes just a few minutes and allows you to stop lessons and pick them up at another time. Another fun feature in Mango is a translation tool which allows you to type in up to 500 characters and translate it into another language. Additionally, there are many lessons for people who speak another language and want to learn English. I also personally love that one of the many languages they offer is “Pirate”.


Preparing for the SAT or ASVAB and you need to start studying today? Unfortunately, the exam prep books often go missing from the library, plus they get outdated quickly. No need to worry though! There is an extremely valuable resource called Learning Express Library which offers practice tests, exercises, and skill-building courses. Some of the tests available include Electrical, Plumbing, U.S. Citizenship, and the GED. You’ll need to register, which involves creating a username and password, but you’ll be able to start studying immediately. Learning Express even has a new section that will help you with designing your resume and writing a cover letter.


Homework Help is another great state-wide resource. It is designed for students in elementary through high school but it now offers assistance for those that are job hunting as well. Homework Help from offers high-quality after-school assistance (it’s available from 2-10 pm) from expert tutors in more than 20 subjects to prepare students for college or just get through the evening’s assignment. You log in and communicate with a real person via their website. Homework Help also will give you feedback on resumes. Submit your resume and they will respond with advice within 24 hours!


Although I am sure we are all sorry that summer is drawing to a close, the library is here to help ease the transition back to school, work, or job hunting. Log on anytime!