This was originally posted to the now-defunct website, as an entry in my "No Slight of Palm" column.
Palm E-Literature . . . in Your Local Library?
by Chris Meadows
January 20, 2001

Your local library may be one of your best sources for Palm e-reading material.

No, I do not mean those check-out-an-ebook pilot programs that some libraries, such as the San Francisco public library, are trying out. I mean something different, a bit more basic, and requiring a bit more work on your part. I am talking about online magazine indexes, such as EBSCO or InfoTrac.

As almost any college student who has ever had to write a term paper knows, magazine indexes are a useful source of information--especially ones such as EBSCO which include the full text of some articles. This feature reduces researching a topic, getting citations, reading an article to see if it fits, and getting a hard copy down to one easy step. The EBSCO system is run as a website that integrates a search engine and display to save or print functions into its database program, meaning that articles' full text can be displayed and saved as plain vanilla HTML files. Like Baen's Webscription e-books, these HTML files can then be converted into Palm-readable format with a great deal of ease.

I am fortunate enough to have a public library (the Springfield-Green County Library of Springfield, Missouri) that offers these online to its patrons (requiring verification by name and library card number before granting access). It is possible that you will, as well--check your local public library's homepage, or call its reference department to find out. Even if it is not online, it is possible they may run it on library computers from which one can save articles to diskette.

But why is it worth the trouble? Why would you want to read a bunch of dry, dusty magazine articles if you don't need to for a research paper? Actually, there are many interesting articles on a variety of topics within this archive, including the contents of many popular periodicals such as Rolling Stone, Time, and so on. And as if interesting nonfiction articles were not enough, there is even a good deal of fiction included in EBSCO, too--the entire contents of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, containing short stories and novellas by well-known authors, from the current issue back to 1994. These can be saved, printed, or downloaded very easily (depending on your access to EBSCO)--and once you have them on disk, it is easy to transfer them to your Palm.

(It should be noted that the legitimacy of the F&SF articles is under some question, as some people have suggested EBSCO's original contract specified the entire issue in "non-printable" microfiche media only, as opposed to individual articles in digital form. Complicating the matter, F&SF recently had a change of publishers, and as far as I know, the new publisher may not be fully aware of the issue. However, until I know for certain, I will give EBSCO the benefit of the doubt. This article will be updated as more information comes to light. For those who would prefer to buy the whole magazine in one pre-converted file or do not have EBSCO access, some F&SF back-issues may also be found at Palm Digital Media.)

In your search for Palm reading material, do not limit yourself to Palm-specific sites or formats. New sources of reading material are wherever you can find them. Almost any e-book or article that can be downloaded in HTML can be converted for the Palm; EBSCO is just one example. Happy reading!

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