Do you even remember what the library was like before the Internet? Some weren’t even around for the days of hard copies of encyclopedias and card catalogs, while others remember a time when the librarian, not the computer, was the first one they went to for help. As a blog writer, educate yourself on as many researching tools as possible.
“While the Internet is a great tool, there are many, many compelling reasons to use library resources such as databases, books and yes, librarians, to facilitate research,” said Susan Anderson, Head of Public Services at the Helmke Library at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
Sure, the Internet can provide you with up-to-date information when you need to do some research. But don’t overlook the other great research materials in the library. Yes, you can survive without the Internet.
Evan Davis, a Librarian II in the Business, Science and Technology Department of the Allen County Public Library, says “most people turn to the Internet first, but there are still research materials used quite a bit by those trying to find good information. Among the most popular are books about recipes, gardening, resumes and vehicle repair.”
Here are a few non-Internet resources you shouldn’t overlook on a trip to the library:
- Writer’s Market – If you’re any type of writer looking for a way to get published, this reference guide should be one of the first places you turn. This book is filled with hundreds of pages of places to sell your writing, whether it is to a magazine, book or trade publication.
- Standard & Poor’s Industry Surveys – This publication tracks 50 North American industries and 10 Global Industries, their leaders, and what they’ve been up to. The reports include industry trends, industry environment, ratios and statistic and popular industry terms and definitions. “Industry Surveys provides a great deal of information for the many business students who come to research how a particular company fits within its industry,” Davis said.
- Gale Encyclopedia of American Law – High-profile topics and cases are presented in an easy-to-understand language in this encyclopedia. It covers famous cases, major statutes, legal terms and concepts, important documents and notable professionals from the law profession. It covers more than 5,000 legal topics in a 14-volume set.
- Business Rankings Annual – After looking through thousands of documents from magazines, newspapers, financial services, directories, statistical annuals and other printed material, Business Rankings Annual compiles a “Top 10” list of different companies, people and products and is divided by subject.
- Toll-Free Phone Book USA – Includes almost “45,000 toll-free telephone numbers for top companies, organizations, and institutions nationwide.” The book is arranged both alphabetical and classified. Also includes complete mailing addresses.
- Trade Publications – Usually in the form of a magazine, trade publications can be a world of help when researching a specific type of business or interest. These publications are subject-focused and would only be of interest to someone who enjoys or works in that particular field. While many trade publications are online, sometimes they are not free. Check out your local library for copies of the magazine, and browse through them for free.
- Local Newspapers – It’s highly unlikely that your local newspaper has every single newspaper issue on its website. Archives typically only go back 10-20 years, and even most of those issues you will be charged for. Your local library should have a collection of newspapers that go back much farther than just 20 years ago. Whether a paper copy or on film, old newspapers can serve as great reference material.
One way to research without the use of the Internet is to take some time to first get to know your library. It is probably hiding some reference gems that you never knew existed. In order to stay in business and compete with the Internet, libraries have been forced to find new ways to attract people into the building.
For example, the Allen County Public Library has one of the largest genealogy research collections in the country with more than 350,000 printed volumes and census records. It’s an entire section of the building filled with information you won’t find on the Internet.
When you go to the library, don’t forget about the most important and helpful resource there is. It’s not the Internet. It’s the librarian. Most librarians are experts at finding information within the confines of the library, and they will help you find information elsewhere if needed.
If you are headed to the library, don’t make a dash for the computers when you walk in the door. Use the other resources available, and start by talking to your librarian.