Library’s expert services help you find what you need | Librarian's Desk

By Richard Suico | Mar 21, 2018

I want to acknowledge and thank Diane Maish for her letter to the editor a couple of weeks ago recognizing library staff’s friendliness and expert services. I echo what she wrote, and what I consistently hear from the public library staff are friendly, approachable and knowledgeable.

What was particularly satisfying was her very specific use of the term “expert services” to describe our work with the public. One of Sno-Isle Library’s core services is to deliver expert information and research services. In 2017, Sno-Isle librarians answered over 300,000 questions.

Besides traditional reference services in person and over the phone, we offer the “Ask Us, Tell Us” help tool on the website, where you can ask questions 24/7 via email and text or in real time chat during open library hours.

The library system answered over 9,000 such questions in 2017, with Edmonds staff answering over 500 of those.

While librarians use search engines like Google to search information on the internet, it is only the starting point. We are trained in and direct people to library databases that contain copyrighted, licensed and proprietary information located behind a pay-firewall funded predominantly by taxpayer dollars.

Library databases use the internet as a delivery system, are subscription based much like print journals or magazines, and are evaluated for accuracy, credibility and currency by domain experts and publishers.

Compare that to the open internet, where anyone can publish their opinions and ideas that could be inaccurate, biased or even out of date. As a result, you will need to spend more time discerning the credibility of websites on the open internet.

An interesting contrast is the often-asked question of finding someone’s phone number or address. Searching on the open internet for people may lead to some information, but it tends to be incomplete or simply false.

The trustworthy library research tool has evolved from telephone and Cole directories to a very powerful database called AtoZdatabases.

Beyond providing 220 million residential listings and 30 million business profiles where, in addition to phone numbers and addresses, it provides a job search, reference and marketing database containing 2.4 million job listings and even criminal background checks.

AtoZdatabases is available in the library and from home with your library card number.

Stop by, call 425-771-1933 or email us if you would like to learn about this tool or want us to find a phone number or address.


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