"Business Information Services of the International Resource Center"
by Alan Wagner
Manager, International Resource Center, Queens Borough Public Library
For presentation at the Fifth International Workshop on Digital Resources and International Information Exchange
March 18, 2002
Queens Borough Public Library
Business Information Resources of the International Resource Center
The Queens Library's International Resource Center is a library of international studies that provides information and materials on the peoples, cultures and economies of the world. Designed for serious general readers, it is a unique concentration of resources for global studies and international commerce.
Located on the upper level of the Flushing Library, the IRC sits in one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse communities in the United States. In addition to serving its immediate community, the center is a citywide, nationwide and international resource.
The IRC's print collection includes books, newspapers and magazines. The book collection comprises 50,000 volumes in 45 languages. Eighty percent of the collection may be borrowed. The largest collections, after English, are in Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Russian. Many of the titles in these collections are not owned by any other public library in the United States, and quite a few titles are not owned by academic or research libraries either; they are unique to the IRC.
The Center subscribes to more than 250 newspapers, magazines and journals in English and in international languages covering politics, business, economics, literature and the arts. Many of the publications are not available in other libraries or on the city's newsstands. Daily newspapers from Asia, Europe and Latin America arrive several times a week by airmail. The Center also circulates videos of documentary and feature films from around the world, as well as CDs of ethnic and world music.
One of the strategic directions of the Queens Library is to target services to meet the needs of customers with specific information or learning requirements. The IRC aims to provide customers with in-depth, up-to-date information on all countries and regions of the world. One area to which special attention is given is information for import-export and other international business. The IRC houses a collection of books, magazines, newspapers and videos that provide vital information for import-export and other international businesses. Most of the books, magazines and videos may be borrowed. Circulating books may be requested for loan through any Queens Library branch and through other library systems.
The International business collection contains books on doing business in other countries, directories of international business and finance, analyses of worldwide political and business conditions, bilingual and multilingual dictionaries of business, economics and finance, and studies of economic history and trends.
The collection also includes videotapes on conducting import-export and other international businesses and on international business etiquette, as well as magazines and newspapers in English and international languages that offer different perspectives on business conditions, trends, problems and prospects in various parts of the world.
The business print collection is supplemented by the International Dictionary Collection, which contains dictionaries in 75 languages that relate English to international languages, as well as dictionaries that relate one international language to another, such as Chinese-Spanish and Spanish-Russian.
The IRC offers a regular series of public programs on doing business internationally. Lectures and workshops are presented by business and financial experts from consulates, universities, the U.S. Small Business Administration and from major corporations and financial services such as Dow Jones.
The programs provide practical, up-to-date information on starting and conducting import-export and other international businesses, as well as analyses of economic conditions and trends, such as globalization and the Euro, and overviews of business conditions and regulations in different countries. All programs are free to the public.
The IRC's electronic business services have three components: InfoLinQ, WorldLinQ and licensed databases. InfoLinQ is the Queens Library's online public access catalog (OPAC). All of the print materials in the IRC's business collection are cataloged and, through InfoLinQ, can be accessed by author, title or subject from any Queens Library agency or from any library, home, school or office computer, anywhere, that has Internet access. Circulating materials can be sent to any Queens Library branch or to any library in the U.S. that participates in the interlibrary loan network.
All Queens Library OPAC terminals have Internet access. To make non-English Internet-based resources readily available, the library secured a grant from AT&T to develop a service it calls WorldLinQ.
WorldLinQ enables customers to visit web sites in selected international languages that Queens Library staff have evaluated as being of particular interest or usefulness. There are separate menus for sites in Chinese, French, Korean, Russian and Spanish. Other languages will be added in the future. Menus are bilingual, and sites in Chinese, Korean and Russian can be accessed in their original character sets. In each WorldLinQ language, there are selected sites for business and economics. Russian WorldLinQ, for example, contains Russian- and English-language sites for banks, investments and commerce.
The IRC also gives its business customers access to electronic databases that are usually available only to large corporations, universities and government agencies. The information on these databases includes the full text of thousands of business journals and newspapers; the full text of newswires that incorporate information from news services worldwide; economic indicators and forecasts for over 100 countries; a database on thousands of international companies; daily briefings on recent events and business conditions in nearly 200 countries; international investment guides and reports; and international trade information from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Some of the databases are for library use only. Others may be searched from remote locations, provided the user has a Queens Library card.
IRC staff conduct classes on a regular basis in the use of InfoLinQ, WorldLinQ and business databases. InfoLinq-WorlLinQ classes are offered in English, Chinese, Spanish, Korean, Italian and French. Customers are taught how to use the library's online catalog and given basic instruction in how to search the Internet. There is no charge for the classes, but pre-registration is required.
Business database classes are conducted in English. Instruction focuses on how to search five key databases: CountryData, which provides economic indicators and forecasts for 117 countries; Business Source Premier, a full-text database for nearly 2,500 business journals; the Economic Intelligence Unit, which provides timely analysis and forecasts of political, economic and business conditions around the world; STAT-USA, which is the National Trade Data Bank of the United States; and EIU Viewswire, which provides more than 100 new full-text articles every day concerning recent events in nearly 200 countries, and their impact on political, economic and business conditions.
The instructor describes the most important features of each database and explains different ways to search. Most of the session--an hour to an hour-and-a-half--is devoted to hands-on practice by the customers.
These are the current business information services of the IRC. Over the next few years they will be expanded and improved in a number of ways. First, new print and electronic resources will be added. Second, the IRC plans to extend its services through partnerships with other business libraries and business services organizations in New York City. Finally, the IRC will benefit from the services of libraries around the world by participating in partnership agreements between the Queens Library and libraries in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The partnerships will allow IRC staff to direct reference questions to their colleagues abroad and to call on acquisitions librarians in different countries to help select for the IRC the most appropriate print and electronic products in their languages.
The Queens Library is committed to providing its customers with the ability to pursue information in any form and direction that they wish. In the ways I have outlined, the IRC is committed to enabling its customers to obtain the best business information in the world, no matter whether the source is local, regional, national or international.
Thank you for your time. And in the time that remains I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have about the services of the IRC.
Copyright © 2002. International Library Information and Analytical Center.
All rights reserved.