The Web Library: Building a World Class Personal Library with Free Web Resources

Online companion to the book. Frequently updated: last update = 11-14-06
copyright Nick Tomaiuolo 2006

Chapter Three:  Ready or Not? Reference on the Web

African American Almanac
Containing historical documents, articles, and biographies this resource presents an historical perspective of the United States, its people, and its cultural evolution from the beginning of the slave trade through the Civil Rights movement, to the present.

Facts for Features
Prof. Peter Jacso writes, "
The U.S. Census Bureau, one of the most Web-savvy government agencies, presents for free humongous amounts of demographic data in a palatable way, and holds your hand while guiding you to the most relevant statistical collection."

Information Please
On the web since 1998, this resource provides authoritative answers to many general reference questions. The site offers access to the almanac, an atlas, a dictionary and an encyclopedia.

Old Farmer's Almanac
The current edition of the American classic, with “Today in History,” “Gardener's Companion,” current and forecast weather information and other miscellaneous information.

World Almanac for Kids

Millions of kids read The World Almanac For Kids every year. This is the companion site for the book.


Academy of Achievement
An interesting and informative site organized by "halls" i.e., Hall of Arts, Hall of Courage, Hall of Integrity, etc. Some commerical links.

Biographical Dictionary
28,000 notable men and women concisely discussed.
25,000 of the "greatest lives."

Librarians' Index to the Internet Individual Biography Sites
Links to 731 individual biography sites including Alan Turing, Aldous Huxley, Frank Lloyd Wright, Barbara Jordan, and others.

PolySearch Biography
Access biographical information and full biographies. Simultaneous searching of the Internet Movie Database,  A & E Biography, Nobel Laureates, Pulitizer Prize Winners/Nominees,  Information Please, the Women Hall of Fame among others.

Book and Magazine Information
Not much to say here except librarians and end-users can find a critical mass of information concerning titles and authors including significant book excerpts and the now-famous "search inside the book" feature for many titles.
A search resource for 50 million new, used, rare and out of print books.

Library of Congress Online Catalog
The Library of Congress Online Catalog contains approximately 12 million records representing books, serials, computer files, manuscripts, cartographic materials, music, sound recordings, and visual materials.

This database contains information on over 150,000 magazines, journals, newsletters, & other periodicals. Use is free, but registration is required.

Book Reviews
Arts & Letters Daily
From the Chronicle of Higher Education, this page serves as a directory to book reviews from other sites including the Guardian (London), Kirkus Reviews, the Christian Science Monitor, Salon and many others.

Covers STM (Science, technical and medical) book titles; full text available going back to 1998.

Education Review: A Journal of Book Reviews
Made available to the public without cost as a service of the College of Education at Arizona State University and the Michigan State University Libraries. Online since 1998.

January Magazine
Signed reviews in various genres from cookbooks to non-fiction, art & culture to children's books. Search engine, however, looks much too broadly.

New York Review of Books
Free online index. Browse or search the NYRB archives from 1963 forward. Subscription required to access full text, but an excerpt is included. 

New York Times Book Reviews
Searchable reviews back to 1996; helps to identify when reviews appeared in the print and subscription database versions of the New York Times. Older reviews may require nominal payment for full text.

Acronym finder
A good substitute for a heavy reference book. Includes reverse lookup (keyword) search as well as straight acronym search.

Provides definitions, translations, and audio pronunciations. Has a crossword sol

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
Over 90,000 entries feature 10,000 new words and senses, 70,000 audio word pronunciations, 900 full-page color illustrations, language notes and word-root appendixes.

American Verse Project
Browse or search the assembling of an electronic archive of volumes of American poetry prior to 1920.

Bartleby Verse
70 anthologies and single volumes of verse.

Bedford St. Martin's Citation Styles
Use this free resource for help with formatting MLA, APA, Chicago and CBE (Council of Biology Editors) bibliographic citations.

Dictionary of Difficult Words
Provided by Tiscali Communication Company in Caligari, Italy , the useful Hutchinson Dictionary of Difficult Words is only one of the reference sources that enhances the company's website. I cease its description, lest I seem verbigerative.

Gale Free Resources Suite
Includes resources for Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Women's History Month, and Poet's Corner. Also included are a glossary of literary terms, a literary index (to Gale publications), and information on "how to write a term paper.

Landmark Citation Machine
Free help with formulating MLA and APA citations; fill in a form, get your citation!

Merriam-Webster Online Language Center
Includes a free dictionary and thesaurus with audio.

Nolo's "Shark Talk" (Everybody's Legal Dictionary)
This dictionary contains plain-English definitions for over a thousand legal terms, from the common to the bizarre.

OneLook Dictionaries
Search 738 online dictionaries at once!

Translation of text pages (or what you enter as text) between English and Russian, German, French, Spanish and Italian

Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, 3rd ed. 1995.

University of Wisconsin, Madison: Writer's Handbook
Help with citing references.

Your Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary (4th Edition)

Directory Information
AnyWho: Internet Directory Assistance
Includes white pages, yellow pages and reverse lookup.

Reverse lookup, business and personal telephone and address directories.
Email lookup in addition to the standard searches.

Email, telephone address searches.

Zip Code Lookup (United States Postal Service)
Zip code and Zip+4 information including specific zip codes for multi-zip towns and streets.

Encyclopedias (General and Specialized)
The #1 Art History site on the Web and one of the American Library Association's picks for "Best Free Website."

The Canadian Encyclopedia Historica presents this site free of charge to all. The site contains the complete text of the acclaimed Canadian Encyclopedia in English and French, the text of the Junior Encyclopedia of Canada (in English only), numerous interactivities, and feature articles.

Columbia Encyclopedia
Containing nearly 51,000 entries and more than 80,000 hypertext cross-references, the current Sixth Edition (2002) is a reliable and up-to-date resource.
A spin-off of the Columbia Encyclopedia, the main attraction of this point of access is that it is enhanced by eLibrary's subscription features (magazine articles, maps, and newspaper items).

glbtq : an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer culture. 325 credentialed contributors working under two editors offer this searchable open access offering 1000 entries.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Articles in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy are currently from three sources (1) original contributions by specialized philosophers around the internet, (2) adaptations of material written by the editors for classroom purposes, and (3) adaptations from public domain sources (typically from two or more sources for per article).

Jewish Virtual Library
Provided by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, this site is much more than an encyclopedia, though it does include a "Reference section." The virtual library includes maps, biographies, bibliographies, statistics, and special features.

Music History 102: a Guide to Western Composers and Their Music from the Middle Ages to the Present (Internet Public Library)
Covers the middle ages through the 20th century, extensively cross-referenced, and includes sound files.

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church as defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Designed as a dynamic reference work. Each entry is maintained and kept up to date by an expert or group of experts in the field. All entries and updates are refereed by the members of a distinguished Editorial Board before they are made public.

University of Michigan Instrument Encyclopedia
Not an exhaustive site, the content of the encyclopedia is developed by graduate students. Browse or search for a musical tradition or a specific instrument.

King James Bible at the Electronic Text Center, Univ. of Virginia
Including a side-by-side presentation of the King James and Revised Standard Bibles, for easy comparison.


Bartlett's Familiar Quotations

This tenth edition of 1919 contains over 11,000 searchable quotations and was the first new edition of John Bartlett's corpus to be published after his death in 1905—the new editor, however, choosing more to supplement than revise the work of the first name in quotations.

Columbia World of Quotations

The 65,000 essential quotations that constitute this authoritative collection represent the research of 154 experts. Entries from more than 5,000 authors and speakers are multiply classified into 6,500 subjects.

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations

The 2,100 entries in this eminently researched collection form the constellation of collected wisdom in American political debate. 

Simpson's Contemporary Quotations

With over 9,000 quotations from 4,000 sources organized into 25 categories and 60 sections, this comprehensive reference work contains words of wit and wisdom from such modern notables as Ezra Pound, Henry Kissinger, George Orwell, Dorothy Parker, and Desmond Tutu.

Yahoo Graduation Speeches
Some fifty links to graduation speeches by John F. Kennedy, Billy Joel, Salman Rushdie, Ray Bradbury, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bill Clinton and others.


Fast Facts:
Almanacs/Factbooks/Statistical Reports & Related Reference Tools

Gary Price states that this is not a comprehensive resource, it is a lengthy register of sites where end users and librarians can find useful datum: airline statistics, baseball info, country and U.S. state information, economic and election resources, and much more.

Guinness World Records
Not comprehensive, but it could settle some bets or provide the factoid you need.


Subject Specific Reference Sources

Drew's Script-O-Rama
Hundreds of film scripts and television scripts, free. For the movie mogul and screenwriter in all of us.

Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments
Hosted by the Musica Antiqua Ensemble of Iowa State University, this site offers visual, textual, and audio explorations into 32 medieval instruments.

Internet Movie Database
This free web resource put a pricey online file out of business. It's a film encyclopedia, biographical resource, and a review forum rolled into one -- links to numerous external review sites including Ebert and Rotten Tomatoes.

This resource compiles film reviews from independent sources.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Access to New York City's premier art collection.

Musee du Louvre
The official English translated page features seventy 360 degree images representing 50 rooms within the museum.

Public Domain Music
Check to see if a tune is still copyrighted, or look for one to perform royalty-free.

Smithsonian Museums
You'll have to use this home page link to access the museums; the links are presently displayed on the left of the page: there are fifteen of them!

Visual Dictionary of Fashion
("Bisonette on Costume" Kent State University) Covers the 18th through 20th century in womenswear, menswear, and childrenswear. Search or browse. Geographic search is available.

Web Museum
An excellent free resource; this has been a top site since its inception in 1994.

The three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies have always encouraged consumers to regularly review their credit reports. It was created by the consumer credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This site allows you to view a free credit report once every twelve months. Note: this site will allow you to ascertain your report, but will not provide an overall credit score.

The Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau system extends across the United States. Begin at its home page to file a complaint or to connect to your local Better Business Bureau and determine if a complaint has been filed against a business you are considering interaction with. While the BBB pages show that many businesses have "satisfactory records," discovering that the business you are going to use has an "unsatisfactory record" (and I did), can save you $$$ and aggravation.

Dictionary of Occupational Titles (U. S. Department of Labor)
The DOT was created by the Employment and Training Administration. It is included on this web site because it is a standard reference in several types of cases adjudicated by the Office of Administrative Law Judges, especially labor-related immigration cases.

Hoover's Online
Search for specific companies or browse the A-Z list. Free components of this resource basic financial information on companies, fact sheets and news.

North American Industry Classification System/Standard Industrial Classification Codes
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) has replaced the U.S. Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. NAICS is a unique system for classifying business establishments. It is the first economic classification system to be constructed based on a single economic concept. Economic units that use like processes to produce goods or services are grouped together.

Securities and Exchange Commission
All companies, foreign and domestic, are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms electronically through EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system). Anyone can access and download this information for free. Here you'll find links to a complete list of filings available through EDGAR and instructions for searching the EDGAR database.

Thomas Register
Registration is free. Search for companies, brand names or products.

U. S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook Online
This oft used reference book is the standard tool for locating informations on prospective occupations including job outlook, compensation and minimum educational requirements.

Calculation and Conversion Tools
Online - Convert Just About Anything to Anything Else

Over 5,000 units and 50,000 conversions.

Universal Currency Converter
The Currency Converter uses "live" currency rates and covers all world currencies.

World Time Server
Accurate times around the globe.

Princeton Review: Best 361 College Rankings
A popular resource for entering freshman -- and still free (but now requires [free] registration)!

University Site Searches
Use Google's automatic settings to search specific college and university websites.

Campus Crime Report
U.S. Office of Postsecondary Education's database of crime on college campuses.

Countries of the World
CIA World Factbook
Solid resource for country information including transnational disputes.

Library of Congress Country Studies
Full text online versions of the country studies series and the area handbooks series.

Lonely Planet
Very brief introductions to countries.

Tourism Highlights
An annual compilation of tourism information from the World Tourism Organization including the top tourism destinations, international tourist arrivals, tourism expenditures, and tourism projections.

United States Department of State Background Notes
Background Notes are factual publications that contain information on all the countries of the world with which the United States has relations.  They include facts on the country's land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and its relations with other countries and the United States.

World Factbook 2003
The U.S. government's complete geographical handbook, featuring 268 full-color maps and flags of all nations and geographical entities. Each country profile tracks such demographics as population, ethnicity and literacy rates, as well as political, geographical and economic data.

Criminal Justice
Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 31st Edition, 2003. (United States Department of Justice).

The full text of the 2001 Patriot Act (United States Department of Justice).

Columbia Gazetteer of North America
With 50,000 entries It covers every incorporated place and county in the United States, along with several thousand unincorporated places, special-purpose sites, and physical features, as well as Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean

Getty Thesaurus of Geographical Names 
Excellent online geographical dictionary and gazetteer.

National Geographic Map Machine
Map any location in the world; offers all the standard features including zoom. Other components of the site include historical maps, flags, and country facts.

United States Census Bureau, U. S. Gazetteer
Excellent gazetteer focusing on the United States. Search by keyword or zip code. Map locations using the TIGER map server resource.

Worldwide Directory of Cities and Towns
This is a directory of 2,880,532 of the world's cities and towns, sorted by country and linked to a map for each town.

World Sites Atlas
Connect quickly to maps. Caveat: make certain your pop-up blocker is enabled, some of the advertising here is extremely annoying.

For street level maps (note, be cautious when using maps or driving directions from these sites; I've been directed through closed cemeteries at night!):


MapBlast Includes city guides.

United States Place Names/U.S. Geological Survey
An interesting and useful government site listing longitudes and latitudes for places within the U.S. Even more interesting is the State and Topical Gazetteer page which lists place names within U.S. locations in great detail. For best results, scroll down to "Columnar Format Files" and click the state you're interested in.

Yahoo Maps

Health Information
American Medical Association Physician Select
AMA Physician Select provides basic professional information on virtually every licensed physician in the United States and its possessions, including more than 690,000 doctors of medicine (MD) and doctors of osteopathy or osteopathic medicine (DO).

E-Skeletons Project
Created at the University of Texas at Austin with help from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation, this site provides an interactive environment in which to examine and learn about skeletal anatomy. An excellent site to research comparative anatomy, you'll find high quality images of bones, and high-resolution 3-D renderings of the skeletal elements in both animation (Quicktime) and interactive virtual reality (VRML) format. - Drug Information
Comprehensive articles on medications with information provided by Micromedex (a leader in pharmacy information). The other components of the Mayo Clinic site are worth investigating, also.

MEDLINEplus Directory of Dentists and Doctors
A comprehensive page of links to sites that will help end-users locate health providers in different specialties and states as well as hospitals and other health care facilities.

MedlinePlus Drug Information
Basic information on thousands of medications based on the authoritative USP DI and the American Society for Health Systems Pharmacists.

MEDLINEplus Health Topics
Information on hundreds of health topics from the National Library of Medicine. This site also offers approximately 200 interactive health tutorials provided by the Patient Education Institute.

MEDLINEplus Medical Dictionaries

MEDLINEplus Medical Encyclopedia
The Adam Health Illustrated Encyclopedia includes over 4,000 articles about diseases, tests, symptoms, injuries, and surgeries. It also contains an extensive library of medical photographs and illustrations.

Merck Manual Centennial Edition Full text of the most recent edition of the invaluable medical reference book.

Merck Manual of Medical Information, Home Edition Full text of the patient/family version of the manual.

Right-to-Know Network
RTK provides free access to numerous databases, text files, and conferences on the environment. With the information available on RTK NET, you can identify specific factories and their environmental effects and assess people and communities affected.

WebMD Drugs and Herbs
Features a drug database, product recalls and FDA news.

Marxists Internet Archive

A digital library related to Marxism. The Archive encourages the use and redistribution of the public domain material on the site. Includes information on the French Revolution, Utopian Societies, Maoism, and other movements.

Legal Research
Campus Crime Reports from the U.S. Office of Postsecondary Education. How secure is your child's college campus -- or the one you work at or attend?

FindLaw is the highest-trafficked legal Web site, providing the most comprehensive set of legal resources on the Internet for legal professionals, businesses, students and individuals. These resources include cases and codes, legal news, an online career center, and community-oriented tools, such as a secure document management utility, mailing lists, message boards and free e-mail.

Full Text State Constitutions and Legislation
This page seeks to link to sites containing full-text state constitutions, statutes (called codes or compiled laws in some states), legislation (bills, amendments, etc.), session laws (bills that have become laws), and administrative rules.

Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
Find lawyers and their credentials.

Patriot Act
From the U.S. Department of Justice, the full text.


Includes over 15,000 categorized links to philosophy resources on the Internet. Developed by a graduate philosophy/computer science scholar.

Test Locators
Buros Mental Measurements Yearbook
Free online access to identify tests; reviews must be purchased.

TestLink (ETS -- Educational Testing Service)
The ETS Test Collection includes an extensive library of 20,000 tests and other measurement devices from the early 1900s to the present. Identify tests without incurring a charge; inspect test record to determine availability. The collection is the largest in the world. It was established to make information on standardized tests and research instruments available to researchers, graduate students, and teachers.

United States Census Data and Demographics
American FactFinder
Population, housing, geographic, and economic information from the U.S. Census Bureau.

A tool for investigating U.S. demographic trends.

Statistical Abstract of the United States
The National Data Book contains a collection of statistics on social and economic conditions in the United States. Selected international data are also included.

General Reference Links

Bartleby Reference
Including free access to: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition, 2001, Encyclopedia of World History, 6th edition 2001, the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3rd edition, 2002, Columbia Gazetteer of North America, 2000, the World Factbook, 2002, American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,  4th edition, 2000, Rogets II: The New Thesaurus, 3rd edition, 1995, the Columbia World of Quotations, 1996, Fowler's English and Bullfinch's Mythology.

Internet Public Library Reference Department
All the reference tools you would expect to find in a library.

IRS Forms and Publications
Downloadable forms and instructions including links to some state forms.

Librarian's Index to the Internet

Links to ready reference and quick facts.

Extensive service offering links to numerous credible reference resources.

Microsoft Network
Dictionary, Encyclopedia and atlas.
Since 1995 this family friendly cornucopia of links has indexed and reviewed only quality and credible sites.
Reference Materials at Yahoo

Virtual Reference Shelf: Selected Web Resources Compiled by the Library of Congress
Tested websites from the nation's library.

Library and Information Science
Journal Abbreviation Sources
Another winner from energetic Gerry McKiernan. Use this page to find abbreviations or to find full-titles based on abbreviations.

more reference sites

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