Desk Set

Ready Reference for the Digital Librarian

Ready Reference:

American FactFinder (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011, from
U.S. Census Bureau's database of information gathered from over 100 national surveys and several censuses. Past and current population, housing, economic, and geographic statistics are available, as well as maps, fact sheets, and other publications. Original FactFinder. The new uniform resource locator includes the most recent American census data from 2010. Data can be searched by topics, geographies, population groups, and industry codes. Main page quick data features include the current U.S. population to the minute with a link to the world population clock, state and national reference maps, current census data according to street address, and fun facts based on information from FactFinder's database.

American Memory (n.d.) Retrieved October 9, 2011, from
A ready reference of a wide range of materials (written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music) documenting the American history and culture. This digital archive is comprised of collections from the Library of Congress and other American heritage institutions. The collections can be browsed by topic, time period, place, and type of material. They can also be searched by key terms. An alphabetical list of all the collections is available. The site provides support pages for teachers to use the collections in the classroom. The main page also has a fun feature called "Today in History" which links the user to a detailed account of American historical facts and events related to the current month and day, based on materials from the American Memory collections. The "Today in History" archives can be searched by keywords, specific day, or month.

AnyWho (n.d.) Retrieved October 9, 2011, from
An all-in-one access point for finding contact information for businesses and individuals in the United States. Businesses can be searched by name or category plus location or by phone number. People can be searched by name and location, by address, or in reverse (Reverse Lookup) by phone number. Maps of and directions to peoples listed addresses are available. Listings for people are updated weekly. Cell phone numbers are not available. AnyWho also has provides location information by area code and zip code (Area / Zip Code Lookup). There is a feature that allows you to remove your listing if desired.

Bartleby Reference Page. (n.d.) Retrieved October 11, 2011, from
Bartleby, the parent page, is a resource that publishes classic public domain literature online. Named for Herman Melville's reluctant scrivener, Bartleby distinguishes itself from other public domain sites because works are chosen based on merit and inclusion in a canon of classics. The reference page includes a nice list of quotations sources, including Bartlett's, Grocott's, Hoyt's, and a 1916 collection called "A Dictionary of Similes." The English Usage entries include Strunk and White's The Elements of Style (1918) and H. L. Mencken's The American Language (1921). Curiosities include the original 1918 publication of Gray's Anatomy and the original 1918 publication of Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking-School Book.

Consumer Reports. (n.d). Retrieved October 11, 2011, from
One of the most respected consumer advocacy publications. Consumer Reports has tested over 155,000 products in their labs since 1936; the tested products are chosen based on perceived consumer demand. Because they do not accept money from advertisers, they are often regarded as the foremost authority in product ratings. The website is subscription-based; however, most public libraries carry a subscription. Information about product recalls and safety is provided for free on the website.

Credo Reference (n.d.) Retrieved October 9, 2011, from
A subscription database of over 700 reference books, including dictionaries, biographies, atlases, encyclopedias, handbooks and more. Over three million full-text entries are accessible. A good resource for starting research in any field of study, including art, literature, science, medicine, sociology, psychology, and more. Materials can be searched by keywords and subject area or type of reference book. Images can also be searches, and a concept map feature allows users to browse related materials. An advanced search enables users to sort results, search headings only, and limit search results by subject or title, publication date, and featured medias. Documents can also be browsed by subject categories of topics or individual topics, organized alphabetically. Users can search book titles and covers by subject, title, LC classification, and type of publication.

Dr. Grammar (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011, from
A compendium of web based grammar and writing resources, maintained by University of Iowa's Department of Languages and Literatures. Dr. Grammar provides links to resources on the basic rules of writing, writing in English as a second language, word origins, plagiarism, and business communication. An outline of academic documentation styles along with a list of how-to documentation websites and style manuals is also provided. There is also a bibliography of support tools for writers, including dictionaries (some online), writing handbooks, and usage guides. Users can view the site's most frequently asked writing questions and their answers and submit questions to Dr. Grammar. For fun, users can also browse a potpourri of items related to writing and the English.

Edmunds. (n.d.) Retrieved October 11, 2011, from
A combination review and classified listing site for new and used cars. Edmunds is a very useful "at-your-fingertips" recommendation for general public library users who need information on buying or selling their cars. Edmunds conducts its own road tests and reviews vehicles from a wide array or makes and models. It also includes features like "Wagons and Hatchbacks with the Most Front-Passenger Room" for consumers who have specific needs. The used car tab includes a form to instantly appraise a car. This feature is not entirely accurate but gives consumers a good ballpark figure to begin the process of buying or selling a vehicle. The "Tips and Advice" tab contains consumer-focused guides and articles. Lastly, the forums on Edmunds are a nice roundtable where users can interact with each other.

KidsClick! (n.d.) Retrieved October 9, 2011, from
A web search site for children, guiding them to child appropriate websites. Users can search by keyword or phrase with and advanced search options that limit results by reading level and amount of pictures. Users can also browse the database of child friendly websites by discipline, topic (organized alphabetically), type of digital media, and the Dewey Decimal system. Originally launched by a group of public librarians, KidsClick! is now operated by the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University.

Infoplease. (n.d.) Retrieved October 11, 2011, from
A simply-designed compendium of atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, and almanac aimed at school-aged users and the general population. An interactive toolbox includes an online calculator, periodic table, spell check, distance calculator, conversion tool, and calendar. Infoplease features over 30,000 biographies and covers a wide range of subjects, from American holidays to science in the news. The "Features" section often updates and provides overviews of timely topics. Infoplease is a fun, easily navigable site for casual browsers as well as researchers.

The Internet Archive. (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011 from
Free to use site envisioned by its founders as an archive for digital cultural artifacts. The Internet Archive includes live concert footage, audio documents, text, and films in the public domain. Users can download or stream audio and video documents. All content is legal to exchange. One fun and important feature of the Internet Archive is the Wayback Machine, which archives dated snapshots of over 150 billion webpages. The Wayback Machine started collecting websites in 1996 and continues to update. Another notable feature is the Prelinger Archive which collects digital ephemera like advertising, educational, industrial and amateur films. This is a terrific resource for anyone interested in finding primary sources for cultural studies.

Internet Public Library. (n.d.) Retrieved October 11, 2011, from ipl2 is a new entity, formed in 2010 with the merging of the original Internet Public Library and the Librarian's Internet Index. It is hosted by Drexel University's College of Information Science and Technology. One of its key features is the asynchronous question and answer forum "Ask an ipl2 Librarian", a form-based reference service; however, recently, a large volume of questions posted to ipl2 has made the service quite slow, reducing response time from the advertised "three days" to three weeks or more. The Special Collections tab is notable and includes an "A+ Research/Writing Guide" for students. One standout feature is the ipl2's Mobile Apps project, which is a webpage, organized by device, that collects apps from various news sources.

Kovels (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011, from
An authoritative reference source on antiques and collectibles. Kovels offers a free price guide, a marks identification guide, a nationwide events calendar, news updates, weekly electronic newsletter, reviews of antique reference books, and a directory of related resources from appraisal services to auctions to museums and archives and much more. General keyword search and advanced search functions are available. There is also an online forum for users to exchange information. For an annual subscription fee, users receive further support publications and services.

LexisNexis Academic. (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011 from
LexisNexis is a subscription-only clearinghouse database for academic libraries. (It is available through Research Port.) For ready-reference, it contains the American papers of record (The New York Times and The Washington Post). Users can also access The Almanac of American Politics, Funk and Wagnall's New Encyclopedia, The World Almanac (both worldwide and U.S. editions), and the World Almanac of U.S. Politics. Users can find information about businesses and corporations, biographies, and consumer information. The LexisNexis Academic Product Wiki is a good orientation source for information professionals to consult. LexisNexis Academic also produces training webinars for librarians and researchers. LexisNexis also produces LexisNexis Express for public libraries; however, LexisNexis Academic covers more material.

LibGuides Community Site. (n.d.).LibGuides Community. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from
As its home page states, this site links to almost 200,000 library guides created by librarians from all over the world. A user can search on any term and retrieve a listing of librarian-created websites which may contain relevant information. The drawback to using this site is much higher recall than relevance, but if you should find a guide that is relevant, it may well include unusual information.

MapQuest. (n.d.) Retrieved October 11, 2011, from
Sponsored by AOL and Holiday Inn, MapQuest is one of the original online atlases. Users input locations to view a general map of the area they want to search. Users can also input two locations to get driving directions from one location to another. When getting directions, users can add stops, change the route, and check avoidances like highways or toll roads. On any given map, tabs for hotels, restaurants, travel services, shopping, activities, and local services are made available. A user can click on the tabs and the selected services will populate the currently displayed map. Mapquest is also available as an app for the iPhone or Android.

Maryland Judiciary Case Search (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011, from
Maryland Judiciary's database of case records. Cases can be searched by company or person or by court and case number. Itemized search results for companies or persons include case number, name, birthdate, party type, case number, case status, filing date, and case caption, usually listing the parties involved. At a minimum, individual electronic case records include basic case information, plaintiff/petitioner and defendant/respondent information, judgment information, and document tracking. Full case information is not always electronically available due to legal restrictions or practical difficulties of reducing a case record into electronic format.

Perseus (n.d.) Retrieved October 9, 2011, from
A multimedia database of Greco-Roman history, art, literature, and archaeology plus other related topics in the humanities. Languages include English, Greek, Latin, Old English, German, Old Norse, and Arabic. Links to the most popular texts as well as related websites are available on the home page. Materials can be searched in the languages in which they are published, by keyword or phrase. A translation lookup from English to Greek, Latin, Arabic, or Old Norse is available. A dictionary entry lookup in these five languages is also available. People, places, dates, and images captions can be searched, too. A Greek-English lexicon is featured. Materials can be browsed by language or specific collection. Perseus also has thematic exhibits of its resources featured on the main page. The site is maintained by the Classics Department at Tufts University.

Pics4Learning (n.d.) Retrieved October 9, 2011, from
A resource of thousands of images for educational purposes. All the images have been donated by students, teachers, and amateur photographers, and permission has been granted for their use. The images have been categorized and subcategorized by topic for easy navigation. The images can also be searched by keywords, location, caption, and photographer. PIcs4Learning also provided links to other copyright-friendly image sites.

Project Gutenberg - free ebooks. (2011, September). Project Gutenberg. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from
This website provides links to free ebooks. It is one of the oldest sites of its kind. Content is created by volunteers who type or scan out-of-copyright books. No annotation is provided. Though there is some browse capability, this site is better for those who already know what they are looking for.

Project MUSE. (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011 from
Originally, Project MUSE only contained journals published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. In 2000, MUSE expanded to include publications (both books and journals) from other academic presses and scholarly societies. The journals housed in Project MUSE are widely respected peer-reviewed sources and cover a wide range of subjects in the humanities, sciences, social sciences and fine arts. The women's studies and gender studies collection is of note. For users at subscriber institutions, MUSE offers access to heavily-indexed, full-text content which includes images, graphs, and addenda.

Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL). (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011, from,
The essential citation and formatting resource for students from grade 7 through graduate school. Purdue's OWL is an exhaustive and authoritative guide for every stage of the writing process, at almost every level. The main page links to pages for instructors, students, and "Adult Basic Education," which covers the topics of GED, ESL, and resumes. For librarians and other information professionals, the site map is quite useful to get a sense of the scope of knowledge the OWL encompasses. Main topics include General Writing, Research and Citation, Teacher and Tutor Resources, Subject Specific Writing, Job Search Writing, English as a Second Language, Current OWL Exercises, and Writing Lab Engagement Resources. This is one of the most valuable resources for anyone who needs help during the process of writing. All content is free to use.

Research and Documentation Online (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011, from
Essential reference site for students in academia, providing information on how to find and document sources in the humanities, social sciences, history, and sciences. Links to primary websites and reference books in individual disciplines are provided. Users can view sample papers in the four major areas of study. The site also includes tips for evaluating sources, a list of style manuals, and a glossary of research terms. (Site information is also available in print format: Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age, Fifth Edition, by Diana Hacker and Barbara Fister.)

Track-trace (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011, from
The go-to resource for tracking any kind of shipment imaginable. Ten of the most used carriers and type of shipping can be immediately tracked from main page with correct tracking number. Each of the ten options is linked to a support or individual service page. Vessel tracking is also possible. Track-trace support pages also offer useful links to information applicable to the type of shipment being searched. Information includes country codes, post office pages, port codes, digital calculator, etc. Tracking shipments through a variety of carrier services. An alphabetical list of links to other tracking pages by service company is also provided on the main page. Track-trace offers users an individualized tracking page that can be saved for future reference and two mobile versions of its interface.

US Postal Service Zip Code Lookup. (n.d.) Retrieved October 12, 2011, from
A simple form that tracks down zip codes quickly. ZIP stands for "Zone Improvement Plan" and was implemented in 1962 by USPS. There are several options for searchers: by address, by city, by company, and a reverse lookup feature that lists all the cities in a given zip code. The city list is useful for determining what is not acceptable to use in an address. For example, the zip code 10012 accepts "New York, NY" and "Prince, NY" but will not accept "Manhattan, NY" or "NYC, NY". The lookup page includes links to postal pricing and maps.