Best Free Reference 2013
Each year Library Journal shares what they feel are the best online, free reference resources. This year, Cynthia Etkin and Brian E. Coutis did not disappoint with their suggestions. The following descriptions are excerpts from the article.
CIA–Central Intelligence Agency “Experience the CIA’s history through its museum of artifacts, stories, and an interactive time line. Learn how a pigeon gathered intelligence, read about the final hunt for bin Laden, and see what was in an operative’s “Escape and Evasion Survival Kit.” The CIA’s online library is rich with publications on the history of the intelligence community, the Cold War, and declassified collections such as “From Typist to Trailblazer: The Evolving View of Women in the CIA’s Workforce.” With more than 8.5 million pages, the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government records were part of the largest single-topic declassification effort—and they are available here. The World Factbook, the agency’s most popular reference title, and the CIA Maps page offers downloads. There’s a Kids’ Zone, too.”
EUROPA–European Union “Visit this site to learn how the EU works, explore what it does in its wide array of activities from agriculture to science and technology (and everything in between), and discover why the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. Want to live in or do business in the EU? Ever wonder what Europeans think about biodiversity or train service there? This site will tell you what you need to know. Find official documents, studies, and resources for teachers. Search Eurostat for statistics, Eurobarometer for public opinion surveys, and newsroom databases for press releases and audiovisuals.”
FORVO: All the words in the world pronounced “This site’s audio clips tell users how to pronounce things. It includes words you might find in a dictionary but also names and places related to current events. Since it depends upon user submissions, it’s only as good as its community. However, more than 300 editors are kept busy handling all the new entries. By early 2014 the site included 2.3 million words and slightly more pronunciations, in 306 different languages. German, English, Tatar, and Russian have more than 100,000 entries among them. The site was selected by Time as one of the 50 best in the world last year.”
French Culture “Cultural Services is a division of the French Embassy. With bases in New York City, Washington, DC, and eight other cities in the United States, it’s dedicated to creating transatlantic dialog in the arts and education. You can click on “French Culture” for the latest news on books, films, visual and performing arts, grants and programs, and events. The “French Language” section offers information on teaching or learning the language. “Higher Education” covers teaching and studying in France and related grants and fellowships.”
Health Happens in Libraries “This program helps library staff meet the demands for information on the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare). Access webinars about health information resources or how your library can support patron ACA needs. Under “Resources,” find links to federal and state sites for application and enrollment; guides created by and for libraries; and links to state sites that provide more localized support. Sign up to receive alerts for new resources and training opportunities.”
NOAA—FishWatch “This site, maintained by the leading authority for managing the nation’s marine fisheries, is designed to provide accessible, science-based facts to help consumers make smart seafood choices. Click on “Seafood Profiles” to find out how your favorite fish are faring. “Farmed Seafood” discusses the status of our domestic freshwater and marine aquaculture, an industry still in its infancy. There are also tips on buying and eating seafood (recipes are included).”
Performance History Search: Carnegie Hall “Carnegie Hall has hosted 50,000 events in its three auditoriums since 1891. In 2013, it made an online performance archive available directly to the public for the first time. As of early 2014, records spanning 1891 to 1950 were published, covering more than 15,000 benefits, lectures, symphony orchestra performances, and more.”
PolitiFact “Ever wished for a way to determine the truth regarding politics? Researchers from PolitiFact, a Pulitzer Prize–winning website launched in 2007 by the Tampa Bay Times, examine statements made by members of Congress, the president, governors, mayors, lobbyists, and anyone else in American politics who makes their voice heard. Their Truth-O-Meter rates statements as true, mostly true, half true, mostly false, false, and the wonderful “Pants on Fire.” Use the Flip-O-Meter to identify those who have changes in voting patterns or a reversal of stands. The recently added PunditFact applies the same scale to the statements of pundits, columnists, talk show hosts and guests, and political analysts. Both sites can be searched or browsed by personal name or Truth-O-Meter rating; PunditFact is also browsable by TV network.”
Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics “The criteria for inclusion in this resource, which began as a print title in 1973, is that data must be reliable and methodologically sound, national in scope, and presented by regions, states, and cities of the United States. Information comes from more than 100 sources, primarily state and federal agencies, research centers, and universities. Data is presented in six sections: Criminal justice characteristics; Public opinion; Crime, victims; Arrests, seizures; Courts, prosecution, sentencing; and Parole, jails, prisons, death penalty. The alphabetical list of topics and the table lists are most helpful in identifying the needed statistics. Data is available for multiple years and presented as both PDF and CSV files. Each section can be viewed or downloaded in its entirety.”
StopBullying.gov “This site provides information from various government agencies defining bullying and cyberbullying, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to the problem. The site is governed by an editorial board that includes representatives from the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice. Under “News” is the U.S. departments of Education and Justice’s “School Discipline Guidance Package,” released in January 2014. The “policies & laws” section is useful for finding a model policy for your district. The site also provides information for parents and children, and a “Get Help Now” button offers quick assistance for victims.”
Any resources you would add to this list? Please share!