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    New Databases for Fact Searching
    by Jennifer Keach, Head of Digital Services

    Imagine searching Google for

    • the best-known works by August Wilson,
    • a description of “social ecology,”
    • the birth date of Orlando Bloom,
    • an authoritative definition of “blogging,”
    • the names of the four largest moons of Jupiter,
    • the significance of the assassination of Francis Ferdinand,
    • who, what or where is Bretton Woods, or
    • daily recommended amount of carbohydrates

    You’d probably be able to find any of these tidbits on the Web—if you have some time on your hands. Even after you slog through all the irrelevant hits that Google delivers, you’d still have to decide if what you’ve found is accurate.

    Enter Oxford Reference Online, Oxford English Dictionary, and Biography Resource Center—three new research databases now available from JMU Libraries.  You can find the facts above in one or more of these new resources, and much more.  And, best of all, they are easy to search and authoritative. 

    Oxford Reference Online: Premium Collection

    Connect to Oxford Reference Online and suddenly you have more than 175 authoritative encyclopedias and dictionaries, in all subjects, available with one simple search.  Find facts, background information and overviews fast by sorting search results alphabetically or by relevance.  Narrow your search to single subjects with a single click.  Follow cross-references from book to book to see connections across disciplines.

    Whether you are interested in art, biology, business, chemistry, the environment, history, language law, literature, medicine, the military, mythology, nutrition, performing arts, religion, physics or something else, you’ll find it in this collection of online reference works published by Oxford University Press.

    OED Online

    The OED Online is the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary, the most comprehensive dictionary of the English language in the world. It includes definitions and pronunciations, like you’d expect in a dictionary, but also offers the first known uses of words and how the word came into the English language. 

    You've been able to search an online version of the 1989 2nd edition of the OED through the library for many years now.  What's so great about the new online version is that you can now find new words added each quarter.  Be the first in your dorm to be able to offer all four meanings of "muggle" with confidence.

    Biography Resource Center

    Need to know something about a famous (or not so famous) person?  Biography Resource Center is a great place to start!  Find more than 320,000 people in this collection of 130 biographical sources.  Find basic information—birth and death dates, nationalities, awards and achievements—as well as essays.

    Among the many things that make searching Biography Resource Center fun is that you can learn about people of interest to you but that you've never heard of before by searching for occupations, ethnicities, genders or birth dates.  Interested in female African American poets?  A quick search finds biographies for 148 of them, from Maya Angelou to Sarah E. Wright.  Want to find female sportscasters?  Famous people from Iraq?  Native American actors?  From abolitionists to zoologists, from Afghan to Zimbabwean, the biographies here are from all subjects and nationalities. 

    So, if you need a quick fact about a person, place or thing, be sure to try out Oxford Reference Online, Oxford English Dictionary, and Biography Resource Center, three new research databases from the library.  You can find them all on in The Library's list of Research Databases.

    E-mail comments and questions to:
    leidinrm@jmu.edu

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    All rights reserved.