This is part of a series of research tips to help you with Internet searching. Let me know if you have any comments or tips of your own to share! Come back to this site for more tips in the coming days and weeks.
#8. Public library databases
One of the great resources that most people with a library card have access to is their public library. (You do have a library card, right?) And within that library there are usually a handful of databases patrons can access. For free! Some may be available remotely, and others may require you to visit the building to access, but still – free! A friend of mine has a motto – “If it’s free, it’s for me!” and in this instance, it is for you, too. The public library system in my town has business databases, literature databases, and even expensive, legal specific databases Lexis and Westlaw.
Rather than rely only on the results you see from Google, DuckDuckGo, or Bing, you can access databases that are much more focused, sophisticated, and authoritative. Generally only available by expensive subscription or costly pay per use, your public library (and your local tax dollars) help pay for these valuable resources.
Graduates may also be able to access their college or university library systems as alums. Often the academic resources are more extensive than public libraries’. Relive those glory days – and nights – of research!
If you live in the DC Metro area, or ever visit, you also have access to the world’s largest library – the Library of Congress. The LOC is not just for Congress. Anyone with a valid ID can get a researcher card and then have access to all of the resources they offer. Even if you can’t physically get to the Library, you can still access many of the databases and e-resources the library provides.
A hidden gem in this town, the Library of Congress is one of the most beautiful sites in DC, too. Sitting to the east of the Capital and adjacent to the Supreme Court, I recommend a visit to the Jefferson Building. The Main Reading Room is an inspiring sight and will make you want to research.
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