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Explore Fascinating People

The 2018 Winter Olympics will be starting soon! I love seeing all the action as the athletes compete, but what makes it really memorable for me are the segments about their lives when you learn about them and their families.

If you are also interested in learning about the lives of famous people like Olympic athletes, the library has a fantastic resource called Biography In Context. This online resource houses articles from reference books, magazines and newspapers plus images, sound clips from radio shows and video clips from television shows all in one easy to search location. All you need to  is your library card to get started.

This is an excellent resource if you're a student working on a report on a famous figure or are just curious about someone famous.  Searching this database will give you a list of articles with great information about your celebrity crush without wading through a lot of irrelevant or unwanted stories or ads to get to articles from trustworthy sources.

Getting the best results

Here are some tips I learned from searching for articles about Winter Olympians.

  • Results overview - Typing in Shaun White to the search box brings up a page with a lot of results organized into helpful categories. The top of the page features a biographical article complete with a picture. Then there are boxes with different categories of results such as featured articles, more biographical articles, news (articles from newspapers) and a helpful fact box with some of his basic stats. Scrolling down I see more great stuff like images, audio content- which features radio stories and interviews, magazine articles, and video content - which includes clips from news programs. There is also a websites section. Fans of Shaun White could spend hours pouring over all that information and someone writing a report can find everything they need with one search.
  • Review the factbox on the side for links to related topics, which in this case are other famous Olympic athletes. After finding out some great stuff about Shaun White - like that he was born with a heart defect and had open heart surgery when he was six months old - I can explore the life of someone else, like speed skater Apolo Ohno or skateboarder Tony Hawk - one of Shaun White's mentors.
  • Searching by categories is an option if you don't have a specific person in mind (or can't remember their name). There are some really broad categories listed under the "browse people" link that include headings like "athletes and coaches." The advanced search option also has a way to narrow down the entries. With advanced search you can choose "people search" and narrow things down to particular occupation, nationality and time period. However, there is not an "Olympic athlete" option - just options for particular types of athletes like snowboarders, figure skaters or even bi-athletes. I tried simply typing "winter Olympics" into the search box and I got mixed results. There were several relevant hits but also a lot of ones that weren't what I was after - like for authors who write about the Olympics. I was getting so many authors that I went back to advanced search, typed in Winter Olympics as my keyword, then said "not" to give me results from the publication "contemporary authors." I received a much better list of relevant athletes.

It'll be more fun watching the Olympics this year knowing if I suddenly develop a great interest in a particular athlete, I have a great tool that will help me learn more about her or him. You can never know too much about your favorite celebrities, right? I just hope I don't drive my friends and family crazy reciting all these new found facts.

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