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Chester County Library Offers Online Research Resources
Greg Gore


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The Chester County Library System offers a wealth of online research resources for personal and/or business use. Some of these resources can be accessed by anyone directly from the library’s website at; other resources can be accessed online at the same website by those with a Chester County Library card; and, still other resources can be accessed only onsite at one of the seventeen libraries in the Chester County Library System.

A good starting point for any research need is to visit the library’s reference department web page at Since joining the Chester County Library in June, reference librarian Jenna Persick, armed with an M.L.S. degree from Syracuse University and prior experience at Radnor Memorial Library, has initiated several new outreach programs to assist library patrons in their online research. First, Jenna and fellow reference librarian, Vera Orthlieb, have conducted several workshops on topics of interest to both consumers and business people.

Recognizing that any workshop could accommodate only a fraction of the people living in Chester County, Jenna and Vera decided to put the class handouts from the workshops online at the reference department web page. One very popular set of class handouts available for viewing, printing, and downloading is the “Exploring eBay” package: five pages on buying, seven pages on selling, and a one-page eBay fees worksheet. These handouts are available to anyone who visits the reference department’s web page.

Other sets of workshop handouts include “Online Business Resources,” “Job Searching Online,” and two sets of handouts on “Researching Books Online.”

For book lovers, the handouts on researching books online are essential. With the tightening job market, the job searching handouts are also very popular. These handouts list website resources in the following categories: general job information, job openings at the local, regional, and national levels, writing resumes and cover letters, preparing for job interviews, and how to research companies.

On December 13, Jenna conducted the highly informative workshop, “Online Business Resources.” As with the other workshop handouts, these handouts are also available online.

The workshop provided detailed descriptions of when and how to use the online business reference resources that are available online. References that can be used on an “in-library use only” basis include S&P NetAdvantage, Dun and Bradstreet’s Million Dollar Database, and Reference USA. The S&P NetAdvantage database is a very comprehensive and wide-ranging database with information on stocks (11,000 common and preferred stocks), bonds (12,000 corporate, convertible and foreign bonds), dividend records, earnings, mutual fund reports (11,000 mutual funds), industry surveys, corporation records (in-depth financial information on approximately 12,000 publicly held corporations), the S&P register (directory of 100,000 public and privately held companies), and the S&P investment newsletter.

The D&B Million Dollar Database includes records for 1.6 million U.S. and Canadian leading public and private businesses with sales greater than $1 million or employees totaling more than 20. The Reference USA database is compiled using phone books, annual reports, and other public sources. This database is updated monthly and includes records for over 12 million businesses.

Two good sources for information about local companies are the full-text, searchable version of the Philadelphia Inquirer available onsite at the library and the online edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal available from home or work at

From home or work, library cardholders can search the Business Source Elite database. This database is part of the EBSCOhost master database and is offered through the POWER (Pennsylvania Online World of Electronic Resources) Library. The POWER Library can be accessed from the library’s home page at Excellent for performing industry, company, and investment research, Business Source Elite contains full-text articles from over 1,000 journals covering all aspects of the business world.

For general research and information, the EBSCOhost MasterFILE Premier database in the POWER library provides full text access to over 1,860 periodicals covering nearly all subjects including general reference, business, health, and much more. As one example, library cardholders can search current and back issues of Consumer Reports magazine for information and ratings on products and services.

The electronic resources and Business Reference Collection of the Chester County Library System are rapidly expanding. As part of the library’s outreach program, Jenna can arrange one-on-one tours of the Business Reference Collection and electronic resources. I took the tour and learned about two reference books of particular interest to me: the Small Business Sourcebook (Financial ratios and statistics for businesses) and the Business Plans Handbook (A recently acquired 8 volume series of real-life business plans for a wide variety of businesses, including esoteric businesses such as a “rock climber’s store and café.”) For more information and/or to schedule a tour, call Jenna Persick at 610-280-2624 or email her at


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This column was published in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA on January2, 2002. Greg Gore can be reached at

© 2009 by Greg Gore. All rights reserved.