Module 5: Electronic Resources

Many databases are available to Ohio libraries

Electronic Databases, OPLIN, and the Internet

Many indexes and directories and other reference works exist in electronic format and are available as stand-alone databases, through OPLIN (The Ohio Public Library Information Network), or through the Internet. Some have print equivalents and some do not.

What are the advantages of e-resources?

  • Speed of searching. Often many years of an index can be searched at once.
  • More access points. Paper files must be arranged in one logical order (for example, alphabetically), with separate indexes for each additional way of looking up something. This limits the ways you can search. But an electronic database on businesses, for example, may have dozens of different ways to find the information: telephone number, date of incorporation, size of business, executives’ names, etc.
  • Ability to combine terms. It’s possible to search under multiple access points all at once. For example, you can easily get a list of businesses in Ohio established after 1990 that employ 100 people. Such searching would be extremely time consuming to do manually.
  • Ability to get information not otherwise available. More and more information now exists only in electronic format.

What are the disadvantages?

  • You must be familiar with online searching, and search procedures vary widely among the various databases.
  • The chances of finding clues through serendipity are eliminated.
  • An error in spelling or typing can mean no results at all.
  • Some search costs may be passed on to the patron.


The Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) was launched in 1996 to connect all of Ohio’s public libraries electronically and to ensure equity of access to information for all of Ohio’s residents. The network’s address is

OPLIN’s mission is to ensure that all Ohio residents have fast, free public Internet access throughout the state, as well as the use of high-quality research databases not freely available on the World Wide Web. Access is provided through Ohio’s 251 independent local public libraries.

Major Point: Electronic databases, OPLIN, and the Internet connect your library to resources around the world.