By Ken Fox
If you have visited the Member Resource Section recently, you may have noticed, way down at the bottom, some new links under the heading “Non-Legal Databases.” These databases come courtesy of the Saskatchewan Electronic Resources Partnership (SERP), of which the Law Society Library is a member.
The databases are grouped by platform: PressReader, EBSCOhost, ProQuest, and Gale.
Let’s begin with the source that is first on the list: PressReader. There isn’t a convenient “scope note” that I can see, but at a glance PressReader is a multifaceted “news” service which includes thousands of current online newspapers and magazines, on many topics and from many countries and in many languages.
There are several ways to navigate PressReader: menus, searching, browsing by country, by category, by publication type. By clicking on three dots in the top right corner of the screen, you can choose to sort and display in various ways.
Because I am a research geek, I immediately click on “Search Publications” (just to the left of the three dots at the top right), then click on the “Advanced Search” that pops up. There are filters for Language, Publications, Author and Date. I click on Publications, which has two sub-filters for Country and Category. There are 28 Categories beginning with Animals & Pets, Art, Automotive, Boating & Aviation, Business & Current Affairs. And yes, there is even a category for straight-up “News.”
Today, I decided to filter to “Music” publications, and search for articles mentioning “Saskatoon” (where I live). PressDisplay tells me there are “about 35 results,” which display in left-to-right sliding images. Scrolling through, I see articles (predictably) on Joni Mitchell and the Sheepdogs, and some notices of local music festivals. But what catches my eye, for whatever reason, is a UK magazine called Mojo, & I quickly get swallowed up by an article on an American indie rock band called Royal Trux, who I had never heard of but come from the same milieu as Jon Spencer, one of my favourite musicians.
PressReader’s visual display is conducive to such chance encounters – its horizontally-shifting panels appear like so many rabbit holes to dive into.
But is PressReader useful to keep up with happenings in the legal world? Let’s find out …
I decide to try the phrase “unbundled legal services” (entered in the main search bar, with quote marks) and immediately get a raft of pertinent articles with titles such as “Lawyers could be cheaper a la carte” (Toronto Star), “Billable hours Must be dumped” (The Australian), “The Alberta limited legal services project” (Medicine Hat News), “’Unbundled’ legal services gaining traction with lawyers, laypeople” (Toronto Star), “B.C. chief justice calls on legal profession to be proactive in face of change” (Vancouver Sun). The articles can be sorted by date or relevance. Clearly, we have access to a whole world of pertinent, timely articles from major sources, from near and far, on every topic from torts to tortellini.
Well, that was my experience with PressReader. I bet yours will be completely different.