Ready Reference

  • This page contains links to quick reference resources...almanacs, dictionaries & thesaurus, encyclopedias, glossaries, government information, handbooks, guidebooks, gazateers, geographical resources, quotations, and statistics.

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    Advantages of Databases

    What are the advantages to using databases over general websites?

    Information in databases:

    Is published by professionals or experts in their field.

    • Goes through an editorial process to check facts.
    • Is easy to cite in a paper and usually provides the citation for you.
    • Can help you focus your topic or suggest related subjects.
    • Is updated frequently, often daily, and displays the date of publication.

    (Thanks to the Union County Public Library)

    ALMANACS

    • Old Farmer's Almanac
      One of the first almanacs published in the U.S. is now online.
    • On This Day
      The New York Times provides a look at the front page and news stories about important events from different years. Includes recognition of important birthdays, plus other information related to that day in history. 
    • Information Please Almanac
      Find answers to your questions in this comprehensive reference work that includes an almanac, encyclopedia, dictionary, and much more. May also be interested in Fact Monster.
    • Today In History
      A feature of the American Memory collections of the Library of Congress that includes a special historical primary source feature for each day of the year. The Today In History Archive includes entries for all past days.

    DICTIONARIES AND THESAURUS

    • Cambridge Dictionaries Online
      Three different Cambridge dictionaries may be searched from this site:  International Dictionary of English, Dictionary of American English, and the Learner's Dictionary.
    • Dictionaries and Languages
      A collection of online dictionaries, including foreign language, and other similar resources to assist you in your research and writing.
    • Roget's Thesaurus Search Form
      An online, searchable version of Roget's Thesaurus, a recently updated version, which will find synonyms very quickly, and allow you to link to different major sections with ease.

    SPECIALIZED DICTIONARIES

    ENCYCLOPEDIAS

    • Encarta Encyclopedia (Free Version)
      This is a scaled down version of the commercial version, but still worth checking if you don't have access to a full version. 
    • Funk and Wagnalls
      In addition to the encyclopedia, this reference site includes a dictionary, thesaurus, world atlas, animal book, media gallery (with images, speeches, sound bites), and news sections.
    • Infoplease Encyclopedia and Dictionary
      A combined small encyclopedia and dictionary.
    • Artcyclopedia
      This resource is "a comprehensive index of every artist represented at hundreds of museum sites, image archives that have now indexed 700 leading arts sites, and offer more than 24,000 links directly to an estimated 80,000 works by 7,000 different artists."
    • Legal Encyclopedia
      Nolo Press offers this collection of articles on a wide variety of legal topics. "Plain-English articles on the legal topics that affect you most."
    • Encyclopedia Mythica
      An on-line encyclopedia about mythology, folklore, legends, and more.
    • Webopedia
      An online encyclopedia that covers technology and all things related to computer technology and the Web. Very thorough and complete, with links back and forth between many concepts and topics.

    GLOSSARIES

    • Abbreviations and Acronyms of the U.S. Government
      When you hear people use strings of letters (acronyms) when referring the government, such as "ARPA", do you wonder what they stand for? This page shows what they stand for and link to the government agency.
    • Acronym Search - The ultimate acronym tool
      When you hear people use strings of letters (acronyms) when referring to something, such as "CIA", do you wonder what they stand for? This page tells you some of the possible meanings.
    • Glossary of Grammatical Terms
      Concise chart of common grammar terms, with Latin meanings as well. 
    • Glossary of Internet Terms
      Find out the meaning of words and phrases related to the Internet. Provided by Matisse Enzer, Internet expert. 
    • Glossary of Literary Terms
      Unique terms and phrases are used to describe literature, its styles, movements, traditions, and conventions. It is helpful to know the meaning and use of the specialized language commonly used in the fields of literary analysis and criticism. 
    • Sports Glossaries
      Use glossaries to four popular sports: soccer, ice hocky, football and basketball. Simply click on a name of the sport for definitions of terms and phrases.
    • The World Wide Web Acronym and Abbreviation Server
      This is a list of (mostly) acronyms (abbreviations constructed from the first letters of the words of a phrase), not a dictionary or encyclopedia. For example, if you want to know that ALANON stands for, you can find out by searching here.

    GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

    • FirstGov
      The only official U.S. Government portal to 30 million pages of government information, services, and online transactions; it offers "a powerful search engine that searches every word of every U.S. government document in a quarter of a second or less." Browse according the subject of information you desire.
    • Info USA
      Information about many agencies and departments of the U.S. government, produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State.  Created for foreign audiences seeking information about American society, political processes, official U.S. policies and culture, but useful for all as an accurate source of data and information.
    • Ben's Guide to American Government for Kids (Grades 9-12)
      Find out here about the various agencies and services of the U.S. Government. The guide provides learning tools for K-12 students, parents, and teachers. These resources will teach  how our government works, the use of the primary source materials of GPO Access, and how one can  use GPO Access to carry out their civic responsibilities. 
    • Congressional Glossary (C-SPAN)
      Are you wondering about the meaning of some of the terminology associated with the U.S. Congress? This glossary allows you to click on any term used in Congress to see its definition.
    • Historical United States Census Data Browser
      The data presented here describe the people and the economy of the US for each state and county from 1790 to 1960. Data is accessible and organized into decades for most of the time periods.

    HANDBOOKS AND GUIDEBOOKS

    • AnyWho
      Phone, fax, e-mail addresses are searched for here. Special sections are available on toll-free numbers.
    • States and Capitals (50states.com)
      Look here to find out about the states of the U.S and their capitals.
    • US Census Bureau
      The provider of timely, relevant, and quality data about the people and economy of the United States.
    • American FactFinder
      General information about the American people gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau. 
    • The CIA World Factbook
      Wide variety of information about countries of the world, including maps, prepared by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
    • CNN Travel Guide
      Maps, city guides, travel directions and much more travel information is offered here by CNN.
    • Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments
      If you want to know who the top government officials are in any country of the world, please look at this page. It is offered by the CIA!
    • Consumer Search Product Reviews
      Find evaluations and reviews of commonly used or purchased consumer goods. Includes review categories such as Electronics, Computers, Sports & Leisure, Office, etc.
    • The Greatest Films
      Offers  interpretive, descriptive review commentary and historical background, a wealth of film reference material (including a complete Academy Awards History and Film History - by decade), and hundreds of colorful, vintage film poster reproductions for some of the best Hollywood and American classic films in the last century.
    • Internet 800 Directory
      Directory of free toll free, 800 and 888 listings of businesses by company, number and type of industry, regardless of long distance carrier. Yellow page advertising, Web pages and banners available.
    • The Internet Movie Database
      Find out about the different movies, actors, directors and other interesting background on films. Huge! See their Oscar Awards section! 
    • The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (17th ed.)

      The Merck Manual - Home Edition
      Two highly used and acclaimed sources of medical information are available. Use each according to your information needs.
    • Periodic Table of the Elements
      Find information about the elelemnts that make up our physical world. Very basic and simple.
    • The PLANTS Database
      Includes names, checklists, automated tools, identification information, species abstracts, distributional data, crop information, plant symbols, plant growth data, plant materials information, plant links, references, and other plant information.
    • Princeton College Review
      Online version of the famous guide to colleges. Lots of basic information available here related to colleges.
    • RxList - The Internet Drug Index
      Search for information about common prescribed drugs here.
    • Social Security Handbook
      This is "a readable, easy to understand resource for the very complex Social Security programs and services.... [which are] so complex it is impossible to include information about every topic... the most common and helpful information."
    • Stock Market Fact Book (NYSE)
      "The Fact Book delivers the year in review. Read about trends, market performance, the global marketplace and the happenings of our listed companies." 
    • TV Guide Online
      TV show listings, and some reviews as well. See the section "TV Listings" for the program schedules in your area. 
    • Telephone Directories
      An index of online phone books, with links to Yellow Pages, White Pages, Business Directories, Email Addresses and Fax Listings from over 150  countries all around the world.
    • World Flag Database
      In addition to flags, "There are over 260 pages on countries and international organizations. Each page contains basic information on the country, including its formal name, capital city, area, population, currency, languages, and religions."
    • The ZIP Code Look-Up and City/State/ZIP Code Association
      If you need to look up a ZIP Code, the USPS has the answers.

    GEOGRAPHY - GAZATEERS AND MAPS

    • Altapedia Online
      "Contains full color physical and political maps as well as key facts and statistics on countries of the world."
    • Atlas Maps - The National Atlas of the United States of America
      The National Atlas of the United StatesTM is intended to provide a comprehensive, map-like view into the enormous wealth of data collected by the Federal Government. 
    • The Fascinating World of Maps and Mapping
      This is a very handy place to find maps of places of the world. It has many, many other mapping resources as well! Browse the index to find the information you need. Their Gazetteer section is quite extensive, covering the entire world. 
    • Historical Map Web Sites
      Collection of links to maps of places in earlier times. Provided by The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection.
    • How far is it?
      "Finds the latitude and longitude of two places, and then calculates the distance between them (as the crow flies). It also provides a map showing the two places."
    • Interactive Map Atlas
      Collection of maps of the world's countries. Also includes a geography glossary, time zones, travel statistics, and other such data.
    • Maps and References
      "The maps which are listed are categorized by geographical region although there are a couple of thematic categories such as Interactive Maps which both highlights the potential of the WWW and are also fun to use."
    • Map Machine (National Geographic)
      Some maps from the world famous National Geographic organization.
    • U.S. Geological Survey
      Geographical information for the United States is offered here. See and browse their new section: USGS Information by State for information on Earthquakes, Floods, Maps, Public Health, Volcanoes and other similar/realted topics.
    • U.S. Gazetteer
      Find geographic facts about places in the U.S.
    • The World Gazetteer
      Offers current population figures for cities, towns and places of all countries.


    QUOTATIONS

    • Conversations With History
      Choose your own quotations from these interviews and conversations with famous people of our times.
    • Creative Quotations to Inspire Creative Thinking
      Provides thousands of quotations, organized and searchable by various arrangements (e.g., month, day, theme, famous person.)
    • The Quotations Page
      Lots of quotations are available here, including the Quote of the Day. Each day a quotation is selected and made available by the click of your mouse. If you want more quotes, try the Random Quotations Page, which chooses new quotes every time you load it.
    • quoteland.com
      Quotations on many topics, by many authors, and in many possible fashions.

    STATISTICS

    • Fedstats
      Offers a "full range of official statistical information available
      to the public from the Federal Government; track economic and population trends, health care costs, aviation safety, foreign trade, energy use, farm production, and more; collected and published by more than 70 Federal agencies." Or, go directly to their: Statistical Reference Shelf : Published collections of statistics available online including the Statistical Abstract of the United States. 
    • InfoNation
      This is "an easy-to-use, two-step database that allows you to view and compare the most up-to-date statistical data for the Member States of the United Nations.... Statistics and indicators are provided by the United Nations Statistics Division from the World Statistics Pocketbook, Statistical Yearbook and Demographic Yearbook 1995, except languages." 
    • Public Agenda
      A great deal of statistical information on various current issues is available here. "Drawing on its research, Public Agenda prepares a broad array of educational materials that help explain policy issues to the public in a balanced and easy-to-understand way. Citizens can use this information to weigh various choices and make educated decisions."
    • Statistical Abstract of the United States
      Find the mots frequently requested statistics about the United States here. Collected and provided by the U.S.