• Beyond Google

    You worked hard in school, graduated and landed a great new job. Congratulations.

    Then last week your boss asked you to dig up a study she heard about on MPR last fall. Or maybe you’ve been asked to research a list of potential clients you found on a trade industry Web site. Can you trust the information or should you pay for a mailing list? How about trying to figure out what government agency you need to contact for a specific data request? Where should you begin?

    Not all answers to business research can be found by Googling. If you can’t find the information you need in 15 minutes, the St. Thomas business librarians should be your next point of contact. Think of us as your information navigators.

    You may have graduated but you haven’t lost the benefit of using the research tools available at the St. Thomas libraries. Many alumni call the library to find information on a particular company, or to track down a study, article or author. Others start new jobs and have lost access to the in-house information sources they had come to depend upon at their previous employer.

    There are two physical libraries at St. Thomas that provide resources and services for metro-area business students - the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library (OSF) on the St. Paul campus and the Charles J. Keffer Library in Minneapolis, located in Opus Hall. Both libraries contain a wide range of business reference materials including directories, statistical and demographic sources, financial records, specialized handbooks and encyclopedias, and periodical indices, as well as current books and magazines on business and industry trends and issues.

    Both the OSF and Keffer libraries operate as an information commons, with librarians and technical assistants available for consultation. Dozens of computer workstations are loaded with the latest software applications. Group work areas with white boards and computers are the most popular spots in the libraries these days; groups reserve rooms in advance to gather and work on projects. And the media resource center at OSF is busy most nights and weekends with students viewing videos, both for class and leisure.

    The St. Thomas virtual library can be found at www.stthomas.edu/libraries. Many of services and resources available at the physical libraries also are available here. While some services - such as database access from off-campus - are limited to current students, faculty and staff, alumni are always welcome to use these electronic resources in person at the library. If it?s not possible to visit the library in person, you can always consult with a librarian via e-mail or phone.

    The St. Thomas libraries have access to more than 150 databases, 50 of which are business-related. These resources provide access to book catalogs, full-text/image articles and reports, and a wide variety of international directory, financial and statistical data. These databases also provide the St. Thomas community with access to articles from more than 30,000 magazines and newspapers from around the world, including major and specialty news, business and industry sources. These articles can provide you with insights into corporate strategies, management transitions and product trends.

    Business librarians are not only database experts, but they also can help you find information on the Web and from other sources. For example, Marianne Hageman maintains a popular guide for locating information on Minnesota businesses (www.stthomas.edu/libraries/guides/bus/minn biz.htm), which combines links to appropriate free Web sites with library resources. Job hunters and entrepreneurs alike are fans of Marianne’s work.

    Web search engines are helpful for general inquiries - whether you’re still in the job market and need to research a prospective employer or just looking for data for an upcoming presentation at work - but don’t forget the St. Thomas libraries as a resource for in-depth information.

    Janice Kragness is the director of the Charles J. Keffer Library in Minneapolis. You can contact a St. Thomas business librarian by calling (651) 962-4664 (Minneapolis) or (651) 962-5001 ( St. Paul), or by sending an e-mail to reference@stthomas.edu.

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