Here at IU East, you have no shortage of good, scholarly sources for every information need. But what do people use who are not in college? And what will you use when you graduate? The free web is an option, using tools like Google Scholar to navigate it, but you will quickly find that almost everything of value is only indexed – the full text access you rely on at IU just isn’t available to average citizens. And what is available on the free internet is often commercialized, self-published, or tabloid-level material. This type of resource is re-blogged and linked often, giving the impression of significant content, but instead being little more than an echo chamber of unreliable material.
Fortunately, if you are a resident of the state of Indiana, the Indiana State Library has purchased access to a number of high quality databases like those found at IU East – resources like Testing and Education Reference Center, Academic Search Premier, Biography in Context, and EBSCO E-Books. The ISL calls this resource INSPIRE, and anyone with an Indiana IP address can access them freely. It’s a mainstay of hundreds of public and school libraries, and the state’s significant negotiating power makes these databases cheaper for IU, as well. If you’ve ever used a database like Biomedical Reference Collection, Business Source Premier, Chronicle of Higher Education, CINAHL, Communication & Mass Media Complete, Contemporary Authors, Corporate ResourceNet, ERIC, Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, GreenFILE, Health and Wellness Resource Center, Health Business FullTEXT, Health Source: Consumer Edition, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition, Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center, Home Improvement Reference Center, Humanities International Index, Indiana History Online, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, LitFinder, MAS Ultra – School Edition, MasterFILE Premier, McClatchy-Tribune Collection, MEDLINE, Middle Search Plus, Military & Government Collection, Newspaper Source, Primary Search, Professional Development Collection, PsycINFO, Regional Business News, Science in Context, SocINDEX, or TOPICsearch, you’ve used a resource subsidized in whole or in part by INSPIRE.
INSPIRE is heavily used – there were 125 million searches done in it in 2014. And such a service is common – many states offer these types of tools to their citizens. For example, Ohio has the Ohio Public Library Information Network, which includes a similar slate of databases.
But there’s a problem – the current budget before the Indiana legislature eliminates funding for INSPIRE entirely. Soon, this tool could be gone. And the hundreds of libraries and the million or so K-12 students who rely on it will be left with nothing of comparable value. And you will be, too, as soon as you graduate.
So what can we do?
The proposed budget will come before the Indiana House of Representatives, and they can reinstate funding for INSPIRE. Contacting your representative, especially if he or she is on the Ways and Means committee, is a great strategy. The chair of the House Ways and Means committee is Timothy Brown, who can also be contacted by mail at 200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204. If you live in Richmond, your local representative is Dick Hamm, although he is not on the Ways and Means committee.
And fortuitously, IU East will be holding a free Legislative Forum here on campus on Friday, January 30th. Wayne County legislators Senator Jeff Raatz, Representative Tom Saunders, and Representative Dick Hamm will all be present, and will answer questions from the audience. It will be held from 8-9 a.m. in the Graf Center in Springwood Hall. Please come and talk with them. If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.