O'Reilly for Public Libraries: Need a Technical, Computer, or Science Book Right Away?

A humorous picture of a woman biting a pencil and looking at her laptop.

Have you started learning a new computer skill online? Would like to have a book to give you more information? Are you frustrated because now you think you may have to pay for a book online without looking at it first?

Learning Online & Obtaining Extra Materials

Recently, I have decided to learn some new skills that can help me with creating databases. I have decided to learn SQL. Linkedin Learning (formerly Lynda.com)**. provides a course called, "SQL Essential Training" which is part of their Learning Pathway** series called, "Master SQL for Data Science". As I am coming to the end of the course, I find myself wondering about other keywords and functions that the instructor may not have covered. If the library was open, I might browse the books on the shelf to determine which book might best answer my questions. **Please Note: Lynda.com is now Linkedin Learning. Patrons can access Linkedin Learning starting February 10, 2021. The learning pathway mentioned in the above paragraph may change due to the transition of services; however this blog about obtaining e-magazines is current. 

Look Before You Buy

Nothing is more convenient than having the opportunity to look at a book before you buy it. Checking out a book from a library can give people the option of reviewing it without the commitment of purchasing. Unfortunately at this time, libraries are now closed for browsing. Books are now sealed behind locked doors but can be obtained with a hold request. The current social distancing situation that we all have lived in for the last year has made me feel my options are limited: I may have to wait for a requested book or I might hold a book that does not suit my needs then have to wait to get another book.  I am definitely someone who likes the privilege of browsing and checking out books as a way to determine if I should buy a specific title I may need. Technical books can sometimes be expensive and can easily be outdated the next year. The option of previewing a book helps me to determine if I need to buy it.

Popularity of eBooks

eBooks are very popular right now and many are checked out to patrons. If I use the library catalog to request an eBook, I may have to wait for a hold to be fulfilled. Not to mention that computer and other technical books are very popular even when the library is open so I may have had to place a hold for a physical copy under normal circumstances. The benefit of using the O'Reilly for Public Libraries database is that users do not have to wait for a hold request - the book is already available.

Locate eBooks Using O'Reilly for Public Libraries

In this post, I am going to show you how you can gain access to a multitude of top-rated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) eBooks through O'Reilly for Public Libraries. I will show you how to locate the O'Reilly for Public Libraries database on the SJPL website and what to expect when you are using the database.

This image show a screenshot of the SJPL.org site, the choices on the Books & eLibrary menu.
Screenshot of the location of eBooks on SJPL.org


You can find O'Reilly for Public Libraries by going to eBooks under the Books & eLibrary menu in our site navigation.

Screenshot showing the Online Resources title and the icon picture for the O'Reilly for Public Libraries link.
Screenshots show the Online Resources header and the O'Reilly for Public Libraries link


The next screen will have the header, "Online Resources". This page has several resources alphabetized and therefore O'Reilly for Public Libraries will appear toward the bottom of the page. Select O'Reilly for Public Libraries to enter the database and login using a library card number and PIN.

Screenshots of the initial webpages of the O'Reilly database.
The first webpages of the O'Reilly database


The screenshot to the left shows the initial webpages that introduce the O'Reilly database. I have labeled them with the numbers 1 and 2. The information on the first two webpages just introduces the site and and its functions. To get past these pages, simply click on the red buttons. The catalog page, labeled number 3, will then appear where users will see a menu of options on the left hand side of the screen and a search bar at the top of the screen. As the user scrolls down the catalog page, O'Reilly provides a list of answers about technology and coding. Further down the page, O'Reilly provides recommended resources and learning paths. This blog will help users find eBooks so I will concentrate on that step.


Screenshot showing a search for SQL resources.
Screenshot showing an example catalog search for SQL eBooks


I am currently learning SQL, so I am interested in finding books that teach SQL. In the screenshot, I have typed in "SQL" (no quotation marks) into the search bar at the top of the page. The O'Reilly database has given me some topic that include SQL and below that some available eBooks. I am interested in learning how to use the SQL program so I am going to try the first choice in the list, "Learning SQL, 3rd edition".

Screenshot of the book information page with circles showing the book details and the "Start Reading Now" button.
Screenshot of the book information page and the button to access the book


Verify that the book is current - I always recommend getting the most current version of a technical or computer book. Technology changes so frequently that a book can be outdated within a year and not helpful with newer program features in about 5 years. The circle number 1 highlights where the publication date can be found. This example book was published in March 2020. Below the picture of the book is the book description. The circle number 2 highlights the button labeled "Start Reading Now" to start reading the selected resource.

Screenshot showing the book and features on the webpage that let users turn pages or increase font size.
Screenshot shows features available to users


I have included a screenshot of the book once a user has clicked on the "Start Reading Now" button described in the previous step. Along the top, I have circled some features. In the left hand corner is an arrow to go to a previous page. Similarly in the right hand corner, is an arrow to turn the page. In the middle of the top bar, is an icon with three horizontal lines to see the table of contents of the book. Over on the right side of the page, three features are stacked together vertically. The top feature will be an icon of a magnifying glass. Once the magnifying glass button is clicked, a user will get a pop-out search bar and can type in a keyword to locate the topic in the book. The screenshot to the left shows the pop-out search bar already selected. Below the magnifying glass icon, an icon with two "A"s can be clicked on to change the font size for those people who may need larger font.

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