The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

May 2, 2008

Library review: Online medical guide is quite the bargain

Every once in a while, a bargain comes along that you just can’t pass up, and it makes you feel good that you were able to get something so wonderful for so little. That is what happened when I was able to add Magill’s Medical Guide to the reference collection at the library.

In the library world, the cost of buying reference resources in comparison to other library materials is like buying a Porsche Carrera, a Mercedes SLR McLaren or even a Bugatti Veyron ($1,192,057) instead of a Chevy or Ford. In addition to the high cost of print reference books, if you want to offer access to the book electronically (online) you have to pay a separate, usually higher, charge to the publisher. Salem Press, which publishes the Magill’s Medical Guide, has done something completely different. When the library purchased the five-volume set (at a relatively low price for a reference set) we got access to Salem Health, the online version, free!

That is the bargain part, now comes the wonderful part. Salem Health offers up-to-date, easy to use, authoritative medical information presented in a way we can all understand. You can learn about diseases, disorders, diagnostic tools, treatments, the basics of human anatomy and physiology and medical specialties.

The homepage of Salem Health contains the search box, action tabs, and a monthly spotlight on different health topics. You can do a simple search from this screen with the choice to search in the full text, abstract, title or key terms. If the simple search does not net the results you want, click on the advanced search button. The resulting screen gives explanations for what you need to supply in the search boxes and the option to limit by categories.

A simple search on Huntington’s results in 23 articles covering diseases, genetics, the nervous system, the brain, medical specialties, symptoms and treatments. Each entry has an abstract on the content of the article. You have the option to save some or all of the articles and/or your search to an account. Setting up an account is a simple registration process requiring your name, e-mail address and a password of your choice. At the top of the results you have the option to click on a tab that sorts the article by gender or age. So you can narrow the 23 results to two by clicking on the “Children” tab, or one if you choose the “Women” tab.

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