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Virtual library only a click away

By By Suzanne Digmon
The Alabama Virtual Library, or AVL, is similar to a buried treasure in that both have great intrinsic value and both have yet to be discovered. Unlike traditional libraries, this one holds never-ending shelves of "virtual" books; it is a collection of databases containing information on nearly every topic imaginable. With database titles ranging from Access Science to Ethnic News Watch, it is surprising that such an invaluable resource is not being utilized by more people.
"It's a wonderful resource! It was started in Governor Siegelman's term and has carried over to Governor Riley's office. AVL is paid for by the Office of the Governor and the Alabama State Legislature," assistant librarian Cathy McKinley explained. With your virtual library card, you will be able to do more thorough and accurate research, all for free.
According to the AVL Web site, "The Alabama Virtual Library provides all citizens, students, and teachers of the State of Alabama with free online access to essential library and information resources." It is designed to be user-friendly and provides current information on nearly everything, including business, science, literature, law, health, etc. There are even several databases designed for children. A local college student shared her admiration for the AVL, "It's really helpful and interesting. It's all spelled out for you, so you don't waste time searching the Internet. It has good information for writing papers for school."
In order to access AVL databases from home, you must first sign up at any public library or public school in the state. Visit the circulation desk at the Atmore Public Library to receive your user ID and password, along with your virtual library card. If you are a student at Jefferson Davis Community College, you may also register there. The registration process takes at most five minutes, during which time you receive your AVL card and can log onto the site immediately, if you wish.
Your AVL card allows you to use any computer with Internet capability and go to the AVL Web site, www.avl.lib.al.us. Here, you can see first hand how much the Virtual Library has to offer. Not only does the site provide encyclopedia and reference materials, but it also has periodicals and journals that are otherwise inaccessible at most small town libraries.