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Celebrate BadgerLink's 25th Birthday By Exploring Its Hidden Gems

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Twenty-five years ago, you would have logged on to internet access through a desktop computer and a cord. Google wasn’t a thing yet. Only 41% of American adults reported being ‘online.’ And Wisconsin libraries took a powerful stride into the online library space by launching BadgerLink.  

Initially, BadgerLink touted free access for Wisconsin residents to 4,000 periodicals and more than 40 newspapers.  

Today, 93% of Americans report using the internet, and the state of Wisconsin is working to fill in the gaps in broadband internet availability to make access as universal as possible to power Wisconsin education and commerce.  

At 25, BadgerLink has grown into an incredibly comprehensive resource: 

  • More than 60 databases holding content of hundreds of thousands of encyclopedia entries and dictionary definitions 
  • Over 18,000 full-text magazines and journals 
  • Over 22,000 newspaper titles 
  • Over 4,700 full-text reference books 
  • Over 435,000 images and video 
  • The complete set of U.S. Federal Census record images from 1780 to 1950. 

State Superintendent  Dr. Jill Underly summed up the agency’s perspective on BadgerLink’s milestone birthday: "BadgerLink is a powerful resource, and I am proud to celebrate its 25 years with many more to come. Having used BadgerLink myself to access to online newspapers and even scholarly research, I’m thankful all Wisconsin residents have that same access, and I encourage everyone to learn more about Wisconsin’s Online Library.”

BadgerLink may have name recognition across the state among library and school staff, but DPI’s BadgerLink Training and Technical Support Specialist Jen Champoux wants all Wisconsinites to know how BadgerLink can help them learn, access resources, and enrich their lives. “Even folks who know about BadgerLink in one capacity may not know all the other things it gives you access to, or don’t have the time they wish to explore and use it to the fullest extent.” 

We asked Champoux to highlight some of the things she thinks might surprise even BadgerLink veterans, and her favorite resources. 

  • FREE full-text, same-day access to articles from The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune amongst many others in resource U.S. Newsstream. 
  • FREE popular magazine and periodical content from Better Homes and Gardens to Consumer Reports to Highlights, Jack and Jill, and the New Yorker in resource MasterFILE Complete. 
  • FREE access to academic journals coverage usually found behind paywalls, including some of the latest research in education, professional development and learning in EBSCO resources. 
  • TeachingBooks and Book Connections: two rich resources for librarians and English Language Arts educators to enhance young readers’ engagement with children’s and young adult literature through multimedia including author interviews, interactive activities, and discussion guides.  
  • NoveList and NoveList K-8: a fantastic reading recommendation tool developed by book lovers, for book lovers. It features an “appeal mixer,” allowing you to select preferences on aspects of books you prefer from protagonists’ personality traits to pacing and tone. It then recommends titles based on your preferences. In contrast to commercial sources like Amazon or social media-driven sites like Goodreads, NoveList is powered by book peoples’ love of and knowledge of books.  
  • HeritageQuest Online: Genealogical resources including census records up to 1950 to research your own family’s history and lives of those who came before us.  
  • K-12 students and educators can find resources in BadgerLink too! Britannica Education resources provides grade-level appropriate encyclopedia articles, images, biographies, and games in English and Spanish. Explora from EBSCO is available in  Elementary, Middle & High Schools,  and Educators Edition, to offer a more focused approach to searching multiple resources on a wide array of subjects. 

So, now’s the time to head off and explore (or re-explore) all that BadgerLink has to offer. If you have stories about cool things you’ve been able to find or use because of BadgerLink, DPI’s Library Services Team and ConnectEd would like to hear from you! During the month of September, we’re asking you: What's your BadgerLink story? What have you discovered (or helped others discover) through BadgerLink? Fill out the online form and help us continue the celebration. Comments may be used in a future ConnectEd story!