Monday, August 26, 2013

Do you enjoy short stories?

Have you ever heard of a short story called “Isabelle” by George Saunders? A friend told me that it was wonderful, dark and uplifting and challenging and beautiful, and I wanted to read it.

But as people who love short fiction know, it’s not always easy to find a specific story. I didn’t know the name of the collection “Isabelle” was published in, and I also didn’t know what magazine it originally appeared in, or how long ago.

So I went to the Newport Library's catalog, entered in the search term “Isabelle George Saunders,” and clicked the search icon. And up popped the short story, full-text, ready to be read right there on my computer screen.

 You see, the Newport Library catalog doesn’t just show you the books that are in the library. It also accesses thousands of full-text magazine articles. And since many short stories were originally published in magazines, the library catalog is a treasure-trove of short stories. If you know how to look for them, you can find and read hundreds of wonderful short stories if you start at our catalog page. They’re free to all Newport library patrons.

 Give it a try. Say you want to read “The Half-Skinned Steer” by Annie Proulx. Type the title of the story into the catalog search box. Here’s the result.

 The first result, Close Range: Wyoming Stories, is the name of the book that the story appears in. So you can put that book on hold, and check it out, if that’s what you prefer. Or, if you scroll down to “Top Results for Articles,” you can see that the story is available right there. Click and start reading.

Not every short story is available this way, and you really need to know the exact title and author for it to work. Sometimes you’ll get a hit on the story you want, but if it doesn’t have a “Full Text” icon it isn’t available.  Still, if you like short fiction, give it a try.

(Also, right now, the Library is featuring a display of dozens of short story collections and anthologies. If you don’t want to mess with the catalog, come on in and grab a book of short stories today!)

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