When the Internet came along, everyone thought that books would go the way of the dodo. Fortunately, this hasn't happened, and the Internet has actually become a valuable tool for locating books - for borrowing, for purchasing and for reading online. As we continue our survey of the online offerings of the Access PA POWER Library program, we'll take a look at several useful sources of electronic books and information on books of the paper variety.

We'll start with the Access Pennsylvania Database. This statewide online catalog contains the holdings of nearly 2,800 public, school, academic, and special libraries in Pennsylvania, representing nearly 44.5 million books and other items at the time of this writing. Many of the holdings are updated in real time, so you can see if a book located at Temple University's main library, for instance, is actually sitting on a shelf there right now.

The Access Pennsylvania Database can be searched like a typical library catalog, and then some. In addition to standard author, title and keyword searches, the database can be searched by Library of Congress subject headings and call numbers, MeSH (medical subject headings), Dewey Decimal numbers, ISBN numbers and more. Books found in the catalog may be requested through Phoenixville Public Library, although some restrictions apply.

If you're seeking book reviews or are considering the purchase of a book that may be out of print, EBSCO Publishing's Book Index with Reviews will be of help. This database provides basic bibliographic information on over 3.8 million in-print, out-of-print, and forthcoming fiction and nonfiction books, audiobooks, and e-books in all genres. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of full-text reviews from Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Choice and other respected review sources.

If you enjoy reading fiction, and have ever found yourself asking, "What do I read next?" then NoveList is for you. This reader's advisory tool helps fiction readers, young and old, find new books based on books they've read or topics in which they are interested.

NoveList lets you match books to favorite authors or titles, and can even describe the plot of a book you'd like to read. Plot descriptions and reviews from professional journals supplement subject headings for thousands of fiction titles. Lists of award-winning books (think Newbery, National Book Award, Pulitzer,etc.), book discussion guides, author read-alikes and book talks are also available here.

OK, enough about finding books to read. If you actually want to read them online, you can choose from more than 57,000 titles at netLibrary. This database of full-text electronic books currently offers nearly 54,000 nonfiction titles and more than 3,400 public domain books including classic works of fiction (Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Sinclair Lewis and the like).

The full text of each book is searchable, and you can also search by author, title, subject, keyword or ISBN. The nonfiction titles in netLibrary include many newly published books and cover the gamut of subjects, both popular and scholarly.

With the Acrobat Reader software program (a free download), you can read the books "cover to cover" online. Or, if you have the time (not to mention the paper and ink!), you can print them out a page at a time!

Yes, a world of books and information on books is available to you on the Internet, free of charge. Just point your browser to the Chester County Library System Home Page and click on the POWER Library logo. Remember to have your library card handy. And happy reading!

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