Thing 17. ELM Productivity Tools

What is it?

ELM is the “Electronic Library for
Minnesota.” It is an online, virtual library comprised of 15 databases/resources from 4 different vendors (Gale/Cengage Learning, EBSCO, ProQuest, & OCLC). Access to ELM, ideally, should be made available through all public libraries and school library media centers in the library and remotely. The ELM Portal ( also provides access to the ELM databases with a patron’s library barcode number.

ELM is brought to you by your local library or school media center, the MINITEX Library Information Network and State Library Services with state appropriations to Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the Minnesota Department of Education, and federal LSTA funds under the support of the
Institute of Museum and Library Services (eBooks are purchased with contributions from libraries).

The Legislative intent for this appropriation is to provide the best possible access to information resources across the educational spectrum (including K-12, higher education, state government and public libraries) on a statewide basis.

What’s in ELM?

7 Gale/Cengage Learning databases - Kids InfoBits, InfoTrac Junior Edition, InfoTrac Student Edition, Junior Reference Collection, Discovering Collection, Professional Collection, and ¡Informe!

5 EBSCO databases - MasterFile Premier, Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, Regional Business News, and EBSCO MegaFile

ProQuest Newsstand Complete

WorldCat via OCLC FirstSearch

E-Books via NetLibrary

Why is it important?

Every Minnesotan is entitled access to these resources. In some cases, the ELM databases represent the total number of research resources that a library can afford and in others an essential supplement to their collection of e-resources.

The ELM collection of databases is multi-disciplinary as well as reaching all patron types from K-12 to adult learners.

The ELM databases offer a variety of Web 2.0 tools that can make using the databases more efficient for library staff and library users. Learn how with the activities in this Thing. Choose the databases you use most often or one you have never used and play with these features.

New instructions for creating RSS search alerts are in Issue 8. of the 23 Things News.

1. Create a Search Alert
Here is the Minitex response to the questions in the comments below. Thanks to all who took the time to comment and email about this problem. Live and learn!

"After much testing and consultation with one of our IT staff here at MINITEX, here's the scoop on EBSCO's and Gale's RSS feature. The information we provided in the blog was correct. Those are the correct steps to take to establish RSS feeds. However, there are two major, unavoidable issues that most everyone who accesses the ELM databases and attempts to set up RSS feeds will face. These issues force us to have to modify the way we set up RSS feeds...These issues will be communicated to EBSCO and Gale and hopefully they will be able to improve their RSS feature. However, it is not only a vendor problem. The other half of the problem resides with web-based reader providers such as Google, Bloglines, and Yahoo and how their technology functions as well."

Rather than repeat the new (longer) instructions and explanations here, we put the instructions in the News.

Thanks to Jennifer Hootman, MINITEX Reference, for getting the answer.

Challenge (optional)

The databases are more than articles. Explore the multimedia
1. Perform a subject search on “child health” in InfoTrac Student Edition. Then, review the multimedia results from this search. Click on “Study: Kids’ Lack of Sleep Hurts Parents, Too.” Listen to the broadcast via NPR by clicking on the link provided. Find the NPR News Feed for “Children’s Health” and set up a feed to this topic with your RSS reader.


Page Composer
If you have not already done so, create a personal folder/account in Academic Search Premier (The folder is available in any EBSCO database). Once you have an EBSCO account, enter your personal folder and click on “Web Pages.” Then, click on “Page Composer” in the upper right hand corner of your folder contents. You will be prompted to name the web page. Give it any name you like.

Make use of the utilities on the left hand side of your Page Composer tool and create a web page with any bit of text on it you would like to include. Once you have completed your web page, save the file to your computer or flash drive.

For assistance, check out this short video (2 min. 50 sec. – QuickTime).


1. Perform a search on a topic of your choice in Academic Search Premier. As you find relevant results that interest you, add them to your folder. Access your folder and click on the “Web Page” feature. Then, click on “Page Composer” to create a new web page. Give it a name and create a web page adding saved result items from your folder including each item’s abstract. Create a background and add some explanatory text about your search.

2. Add a search box to Academic Search Premier to your web page and list subject terms and keywords that were useful to your search. E-mail this web page (html file) to yourself and a colleague. Also, if you have one, save it to your flash drive.

3. ProQuest

Create a Web Page

In ProQuest Newsstand Complete, perform a topic search on “social networking” (be sure to select the radio button for “suggest topics”) and click on “view” documents for “Web sites and Social networks.” Refine your search to 2007, full-text, and the publication Washington Post. Mark any results that you would like to read or share with a colleague. When you are done marking results, click on the “My Research” tab and then, click on “create a web page.” E-mail the html file to yourself and a colleague. Then, save it to your flash drive (download).

For assistance, check out this short video (1 min. 47 sec. – QuickTime).


In ProQuest Newsstand Complete, perform a search on a topic of your choice. As you find relevant results that interest you, mark them. When you are done marking results, use the “create a web page” feature to create an html file from your marked records. Use the “Edit” utility to make comments on your web page. After saving your comments, e-mail the web page to yourself and a colleague. Then, save it to your flash drive.

4. NetLibrary

1. Search within eContent & Make Notes
If you have not already done so, create a free account in NetLibrary. Perform a keyword search on “web site.” Review your results and click the “View this eBook” link for the title 101 Ways to Promote Your Web Site. Using the “Search this eContent” utility, search the term “branding.” Click on a few “view this page” links in your results list. On one of the pages you are viewing, click on the “Notes” tab and create a note with that page. Next time you log-in to NetLibrary, you can go directly to your “Favorites & Notes” to view the notes you made on ePages within a title you were reading and researching!

For assistance, check out this short video (1 min. 34 sec. – QuickTime).


In NetLibrary, create a new account with a colleague in which you will have a shared folder. [Do this part separately and at different times but agree on a topic and eBook] Perform a search on a topic of interest to you and your colleague. Then, select an eBook that both you and your colleague would be interested in investigating further. Once you have selected an eBook, search the eContent and make notes independently. When you are both done, click on “Favorites & Notes” and view the notes that your colleague has made on ePages of your chosen eBook. This can be a great tool for collaboration, teaching in the classroom, and group work!


ELM really does provide the world of information—authentic, valid information—at your fingertips. Learning to be an efficient searcher of the databases—via training from MINITEX staff in your region or online via Webinars—will help you help your patrons.

MINITEX Reference Services

Blog Prompts
  • How can these tools be applied to your everyday work?
  • How can these tools facilitate collaboration with your colleagues?
  • How can these tools benefit your patrons/students?


countrynoel said...

Student Infotrac does not have an RSS feed option

Tigerlily said...

that makes me feel a lot better because I didn't get one either.

ck said...

When you perform a search on Student Infotrac, the little orange RSS icon appears at the top of the search results on the top right, next to a link called Create a Search Alert.

You can copy the feed URL (at the bottom of the next page under RSS Feed) into your aggregator. It adds info as it appears on your search topic to your news feeds.

Hope that helps...

SSC Library said...

ELM Productivity Tools are a valuable resource that we have available for use in our homes as well as in our libraries. Thanks to our legislators and taxpayers who make the ELM tools possible for all of us.

Janet in MN said...

I couldn't get the RSS to work at all. I never got the little orange icon or a link called "Create a search alert."

librarycat said...

When I accessed the Student InfoTrac through the HCL website and did the search, there was no RSS icon or "Create a Search Alert" anywhere. When I accessed through the ELM Portal link, and did the search again, the icon and search box were there, but when I pasted the RSS Feed URL into GoogleReader, it didn't work. I tried 3 times.

Diane the Librarian said...

I could not find Student Infotrac listed on the ELM website - so I tried using Teens: Grades 6-12 instead. What ELM gives me to cut & paste into Bloglines is not a URL, but the HTML code, which Bloglines will not accept.

Diane the Librarian said...

Just to clarify, in the EBSCO assignment, it is not necessary to save the new webpage. It is assigned space inside the account you create, so you can come back to it later.

Lydia Schultz said...

I was able to find the feed symbol, I copied and pasted the url into GoogleReader, but GoogleReader couldn't process it. Any idea why?

Suzanne Hilgert said...

I'm having the same problem creating the RSS to Google Reader. I've tried numerous times with different library cards and also different searches and Google Reader does not accept the feed. Bloglines doesn't either, error message reads that this is not a feed?????

Suzanne Hilgert said...

When attempting to do an RSS feed from InfoTrac into my Google Reader it was not accepted. My bloglines did not accept it either. The error message was that this is not an correct RSS feed.

dyarca said...

I could not get the RSS feed to work on Bloglines either. Its comforting to hear others are having trouble too!

Blonde Librarian said...

I haven't been able to connect to the videos. Is anyone else having this problem?

Library Lady 2002 said...

Google reader wouldn't accept my RSS either. I used the feed address in the link.

thecrazylibrarylady said...

I was unable to get an RSS feed from youth or student infotrac in Google Reader, either. Did anyone make it work?

Kathy said...

I haven't been able to get the videos to play either. I also found the RSS feed but after several tries to add it to my blog, I gave up. It kept telling me it was invalid. I also tried to add it as a 3rd party link (out of desperation) - didn't work.

Kathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Media Sandy said...

For those of you who said you couldn't get the videos to work, they did for me, but they took 5-10 to download! And then there was not any sound. I also had to go to my control panels and increase the pixel display so that I could see the entire screen shots from the videos. Hope that helps.

Alice said...

I could not get any of the quick time movies to work.

Kathy said...

Check out the comment before yours. Looks like someone was much more patient than me! I confess to not waiting very long -certainly not 5 or 10 ---min?

Shocker boy said...

Bad, bad, bad...none of these videos least in this lifetime...will explore Thing 17. via old-fashion route...might just try reading...

Julie said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have just figured out how to add the RSS feed to Google Reader. It isn't easy, and I'm not sure it will work with browsers older than IE7. However, here are the steps:

1. Take that long URL that you were supposed to put in your feed reader and put it in your internet browser address box. Click enter. (Older IE browers will show you the RSS feed results in code. Not sure what to do with this).

2. It takes you to a webpage with your article search results as links. On the top is a yellow box with text describing how to add the RSS feed to your subscriptions.

3. Click on "Subscribe to this feed" and a box will pop up, asking if you want to add the feed to your browser's Favorites. Go ahead and add it, whether or not you read your feeds this way.

4. Now, we're going to export this feed to be used in other readers. Click on File in your browser. Scroll down the drop-down menu to Import/Export. Click on that and a box opens up. Click Next, then Export Feeds, and then Next. Choose to save the OPML file in your My Documents.

5. This file you just created can be imported into just about any RSS reader. With Google Reader, click on Manage Subscriptions and then click on the tab for Import/Export. Upload the file in your My Documents folder with the OPML extension. Now, the feed is added to your Google Reader. Nothing will show up at first. If you have a program like FeedReader (a free RSS program from, it will automatically ask to add it to your subscriptions when you added it to your browser.

I hope this helps.

Vicky Schluter said...

I could not get the RSS feed into Bloglines. I tried pasting the URL and the code. I tried the instructions above, I got only the code, not the web page, so these instructions did not work for me.

Vicky Schluter said...

I read in the newsletter about the proxy code needing to be removed from the RSS feed. I did that and successfully added the site into my Bloglines.

Julie said...

I set up a Search Alert in Business Source Premier and had to delete it today. EBSCO HOST would not let me login to view my daily alert results. I received this notice:

Important User Information: Remote access to EBSCO's databases is permitted to patrons of subscribing institutions accessing from remote locations for personal, non-commercial use...

Since we are a corporate library our use would be considered commercial (or for-profit).

So, my question is, can corporate librarians use ELM, if our use of the different databases is going to benefit our company?

Our company pays state taxes.