Check It Out: Vast information available at virtual library

The Newport Beach Public Library offers a vast array of resources to water the mind. Recently added are two new databases, Universal Class and the Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Universal Class is a Web-based service that offers more than 500 online, non-college credit Continuing Education courses. These courses are provided for your personal enrichment. Subjects include accounting and bookkeeping, business, parenting, cooking, crafts and hobbies, computer applications (such as Excel, PowerPoint and Word), pet and animal care, and so much more.

All you need to do is create an account and have a valid e-mail address to sign up for the courses. You can enroll in up to five courses and have six months to complete each course. Access is available 24/7 through the Internet, so you attend the class and do the assignments on your schedule.

Each course has a real instructor with whom you may communicate through e-mail. Before enrolling in a course you can look at the description, view the learning outcomes, and see what each lesson will cover throughout the class.

The Gale Virtual Reference Library contains numerous electronic versions of a variety of reference books. In these electronic versions, you'll find all of the same content that's in the print version of the book. Subjects include business, law, history, science, health and much more. It's easy to use and navigate helping you get the information you need fast.

A basic keyword search from the homepage of this virtual library searches the entire collection of reference books. Individual works can be accessed directly within the major subject areas displayed on the homepage.

Once a search has been executed, individual articles can be obtained by clicking on the article title. You can also narrow your search results using the options available along the left hand side of the search results page. Articles can be printed, e-mailed or downloaded for later review and retrieval.

Looking to start your own business? Access the "Business Plans Handbook" from the Gale library. This is a 19-volume set containing actual business plans for a variety of industries. "Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia" is comprised of 17 volumes featuring articles on numerous animals, from insects to mammals and amphibians to birds.

Colored pictures and illustrations are included throughout the articles. Great for middle and high school students, "American Decades" features articles on contemporary U.S. social history in the 1900s. Each volume highlights a different decade covering notable categories, such as business and the economy, fashion, lifestyles and social trends, and science and technology.

These are only a few select titles included in the Gale Virtual Reference Library. There are more than 200 other titles available in this online source.

Both of these resources can be accessed from the Internet using your library card. Visit and access either database from our Articles and Databases page. You do need an active library account to use these.

Don't have one? Apply online using the link from the Articles and Databases page.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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