Library moves to ‘virtual’ library cards

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 14, 2000

Features Editor

March 13, 2000 11 PM

The world will soon be at your fingertips.

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That’s the good news from the Troy Public Library.

Remote access to the Alabama Virtual Library (AVL) is coming soon to the public library and will be available to any Alabama citizen from any Internet-connected personal computer- whether at home, school or work.

This access is available with an Alabama Virtual Library Card and the cards and the personal passwords necessary to activate them will soon be issued by the public library.

Margaret Stewart, librarian of Troy Public Library, said the AVL literally puts a world of information at the fingertips of Alabama citizens.

With the AVL, every public school child, every student in a two-year or four-year college and every public library patron in the state has access to thousands of reliable resources online including full text magazines articles, electronic reference books, encyclopedias, medical information, statistical sources and homework aids.

The Alabama Legislature approved $3 million in funding for the AVL in June 1999. Within 100 days, through the volunteer efforts of resourceful librarians and state agencies, the AVL was up and running in public libraries, public schools, colleges and universities.

Sen. Wendell Mitchell and Rep. Alan Boothe were in Troy last week to visit the Troy Public library and see, first-hand, how the AVL will benefit the people they serve.

Mitchell said the AVL is geared so there is something for everybody and is a great value for the citizens of Alabama at a cost of about 75 cents per citizen.

"For that small amount of change, we can make thousands of reliable resources available to our citizen," Mitchell said. "Our citizens will have access to the same information that the people of New York and California have. The AVL puts us on the same information access level with the rest of the nation and we’re doing it for a few pennies per person."

The AVL has made it possible for the Troy Public Library to increase its offerings of full-text journals to more than 6,000. Without the AVL most public libraries would be able to subscribe to, perhaps, 20, said Dr. Henry Stewart, dean of library services at TSU.

"There is no way we can put a value on what the virtual library will mean to the citizens of Alabama," Stewart said. "We just hope that everyone will take full advantage of the AVL, both here at Troy Public Library and at home."

School age children and youths could be the biggest benefactors because the AVL provides equity, economy and excellence for Alabama’s schools.

Every student in every public school statewide has access to the same current information. The AVL ensures equity for every student by providing adequate information to compete homework and research assignments.

A statewide online library is the most economical way to provide Alabama’s students with the highest quality information content. The AVL is an economical solution because it delivers substantial saving s by licensing databases for statewide access.

AVL funding is used for statewide subscriptions to commercial-free electronic databases. Participants provide their own hardware, software and telecommunications for Internet access to connect to the AVL.