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A Powerful New Reference Tool

Read about a powerful new reference tool now available through the library.

The Ruthven Public Library has just added a powerful new tool to its collection of online resources: Britannica Online.  Yes, this is the same Britannica of encyclopedia fame, but there will not be any 1-800 numbers flashed at the bottom of the screen as the 1980s television commercials for the print encyclopedia always delivered!  This is a service, paid for and provided by the Ruthven Public Library for the use of its patrons.

Britannica Online is the ideal choice as multimedia reference source for our library because we serve a community of different ages and different interests.  Toward that end, Britannica offers two separate interfaces that users can choose from upon login.  Choose Britannica Kids for elementary and middle school students ,or choose Britannica Reference Center, created for high school students through adults.

The benefits of purchasing the online version of the encyclopedia over the print version are substantial, the most important of which is currency.  Whereas, a print edition looks nice on the shelf, it rapidly becomes out-of-date.  The online version, however, is updated constantly throughout the term of the subscription. 

Next, there is the consideration of what is included and how much the library paid for it.  Owing to its size, the library was able to get in on the bottom tier of pricing to make the service available.  Compare that with the cost of the reference materials that are included, and the savings is substantial.  Moreover, the materials included in the online version go beyond the Encyclopædia Britannica.  They also include Compton's by Britannica, Britannica Elementary Encyclopedia, Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, three different Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus titles, an atlas, an Internet guide, loads of pictures and video multimedia and much more.  Altogether, these resources in print would likely fill the entire reference section  of the library.

Lastly, there is the advantage of access.  If these resources were purchased in print they would only be available the hours the library was open and would not be allowed to be taken from the library.  Totally different is the online version, which may be accessed from the comfort of home at any hour of day or night.  The one caveat is that there is no substitute for a having a trained librarian to assist you in locating and using resources!

Hopefully, after reading this you are spellbound as to how you can access this wonderful resource.  It is very easily done.  On the library's website, click on the “Do Research” tab near the top.  Then, click on “Encyclopædia Britannica Online” in the lefthand margin.  Follow the link to the authentication page, where it will ask you for your barcode number.  This number is found on the back of your library card. 

If you do not have a card, then come to the library and sign up for your free card.  If you need help, please call us at 712-837-4820 or email us at

This resource is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by State Library of Iowa.