Omnigraphics’ Health Series Online | Reference eReviews

Omnigraphics’ Health Reference Series Online
Omnigraphics; omnigraphics.com
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content Omnigraphics’ Health Reference Series Online provides a comprehensive collection of health information, written and designed for lay users seeking to access authoritative, credible, and easy-to-follow medical research.

The series aims to provide quality content for users who “want to take control of their health.” Given the proliferation of health information available online and in library databases, this collection fits neatly between open-access web resources and databases that require subject expertise.

Information found in this database is produced by Omnigraphics, a publisher that specializes in reference materials, including online databases and ebooks for the education market. Materials can be customized by the subscribing library, as this archive is intended to serve the specific needs of a particular community; libraries can select materials based on user needs, making each library’s collection unique.

The ebooks available are made up of various print volumes relating to specific medical issues or subjects. These titles can be read as a whole or in parts (each book is divided into sections, chapters, and articles for easy access).

Content is updated regularly, though Omnigraphics does provide a disclaimer regarding content timeliness in relation to advancements in medical research. Note that this resource is not intended to replace medical expertise and does not endorse or promote medical or professional services.

usability Because each collection is based on the specific needs of its users, content will vary across institutions. However, the general look and feel of the product itself remains the same. When logging into the homepage, users will find a search bar and an alphabetical list of collection items, along with a cover image, abstract, viewing options, and a preview of the Table of Contents.

This appears to be the default view, but users can also select the Slider View as an alternative. The Slider View is a simple, virtual shelf that allows users to browse via featured book covers. Detailed information on each item appears beneath the slider.

In addition to the scrolling mechanism, users are also able to search using basic keywords. The simple search interface does not include advanced options. A query for “diabetes,” for instance, yields results across the various books available. Results are displayed based on relevance, listing the title of the article in which the term was found along with the publication date, a brief snippet from the document (when available), and a note citing the article’s source title.

Related searches are included to the right in a sidebar list. Entering “thyroid,” for example, suggests the following related searches: “thyroid, iodine, hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, hypothyroidism, hormones.” When selecting a title within the search results, users are redirected to the website view of the chapter, article, or title selected.

While basic and quick to load, the website view leaves a lot to be desired in terms of usability. It provides a text-based version of the chapter or article; however, several times I was unable to load the full content. This may be a browser issue, but there are no browser requirements specified in the help section. As an alternative, the table of contents serves as a way to load the missing information. This is not the most convenient option, but it gets the task done.

The PDF view is an improvement over the web page view. The document loads in a browser viewer and allows users to access specific chapters as well as full text. Options include printing, single and double page views, resizing and zoom, continuous page scrolling, and the possibility to highlight text, add notes, and annotate passages (if the user has registered for a personal account). These options are also available in the web page view.

Both display modes permit viewing previous search results or conducting a new search of the entire collection or selected volume. In addition to the ability to annotate, highlight, and save notes, logged-in users are able to archive articles and searches.

Overall, the content is easy to browse, but the production value is limited. There are no bells and whistles here; browsing and search options are intuitive and stripped down to the basics. The volumes are clearly titled and straightforward, leaving little doubt as to the content of a particular resource.

pricing Database access is included with the purchase of Omnigraphics’s print titles. Database-only access is also available at a cost of $2,750 annually for an unlimited subscription (on-site and remote users) at up to three physical locations, and $500 annually for each additional location. This includes access to all current and future titles.

verdict Omnigraphics’ Health Reference Series is a valuable medical research resource for public libraries and primary or secondary school libraries. It may also serve as a basic reference for career and vocational schools.

Because the content is determined by the institution, the collection can be made to serve a targeted set of needs (whether those of a community or a program).

That said, a trial is recommended before a final decision is made regarding purchase. There are comparable products with equally simple interfaces and easy to read content. By the same token, this resource may serve in place of a more advanced health resource in cases where accessibility is valued over rigor.

Gricel Dominguez is User Engagement Librarian and Head of Information & Research Services, Florida International University, Biscayne Bay Campus. She can be reached at gdoming@fiu.edu

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