DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Mar 27 2013

Best Free Reference Websites 2012

by Jesse M

Alphabits TV AdBack in 2009 I posted about the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) list of the best free reference websites of the year. Since several years have elapsed, I decided to investigate the 2012 list to see what new and useful reference websites were being featured. Here were some standouts:

Fans of the popular television series Mad Men and nostalgia buffs generally may be interested in Adviews: A Digital Archive of Vintage Television Commercials. Access thousands of historic commercials created for clients or acquired by the D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B) advertising agency or its predecessor from a period ranging from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Art lovers rejoice! Google Art Project brings the art to you by linking to thousands of works of art across 30 institutions in the US and worldwide! Just choose a museum from the homepage and then use Street View technology to virtually explore the museum or click on specific works of art and zoom in to view them in high resolution.

Fans of truecrime books may enjoy browsing through The Vault, a repository of thousands of declassified FBI documents including memos, reports and other materials spanning several decades. While some words and passages have been redacted to protect identities or sensitive information, a plethora of dossiers are available on both well known and minor criminals as well as such notable figures as Steve Jobs, Elizabeth Taylor, George Steinbrenner and even the pop group the Monkees. Please note: Some material contained in this site may contain actions, words, or images of a graphic nature that may be offensive and/or emotionally disturbing. This material may not be suitable for all ages. Please view it with discretion.

And finally, a great resource for students, educators, and anyone interested in viewing country-by-country statistical data, the World Databank offers a wealth of statistics gleaned from databases maintained by the World Bank. World Development Indicators (WDI) provides data across many categories such as education, the environment, health, and poverty, while Global Development Finance (GDF) provides statistics about the economic and financial health of countries. The site is easy to use, just plug in the country or countries, the statistics of interest, and the years needed.

Want to see more reference sites from previous years? Check out the combined index of lists from 1999-2012.


Oct 16 2009

Best Free Reference Websites 2009

by Jesse M

For the eleventh consecutive year, the Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) has put out a list of the best free reference websites. This annual series was initiated “to recognize outstanding reference sites on the World Wide Web”, a task which it has once again performed admirably. This year there are over two dozen sites listed, specializing in all manner of information.

Looking for a job? Check out the Dept. of Labor sponsored Careeronestop. It offers career resources and workforce information, such as salary data, where to file unemployment insurance, locations of career centers, self-assessment tools, and resume advice. The site also includes links to other useful resources, such as the online version of the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Need help with measurement conversions? Try Onlineconversion.com, which boasts over 5,000 units and 50,000 conversions, lending credence to their claim to be able to “convert just about anything to anything else.” Whether you are attempting to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius or are interested in more esoteric conversions, like comparing clothing sizes across countries or finding our how much you’d weigh on different planets, this is the site for you.

Tired of defective online translation services mangling your intended message? Head over to Lexicool, a directory of “all” the online bilingual and multilingual dictionaries and glossaries freely available on the internet (currently numbering over 7000), many of which have been created by translators working in specialist fields.

Are you a sports fan? Sports-reference.com is “a combination of sites providing top notch statistics and resources for sports fans everywhere. Our aim is to be the easiest-to-use, fastest, most complete sources for sports statistics anywhere.” With sections devoted to baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and Olympic sports, the site has something for sporting fans of all varieties.

Or perhaps you are interested in procuring locally grown and/or organic food in your area. If so, you can utilize Local Harvest to find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food. Search by zip code or state, or use the interactive map. Other offerings include a monthly newsletter, recipes, and blogs by members.

Want more sites? Check out the combined index of lists from 1999-2008.

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May 11 2009

Consumer Health Source

by Amanda L

This month the feature database is Consumer Health Complete. This database is one of the many sources the DeKalb County Library cardholders have access through GALILEO. All of these databases can be found on our Reference Databases page.

Have you or someone you loved been diagnosed with a disease by the doctor? Have you wanted to know more information but were afraid to ask the doctor? Consumer Health Complete is a good resource to learn more about diseases and health information.

Consumer Health Complete contains many electronic versions of Reference books that we have on the shelf like the Complete Guide to Prescription & Nonprescription Drugs. You can browse the electronic versions of the Reference books or you can keyword search the books. Consumer Health Complete also has the type of documents it contains broken down by category such as Pamplet & Fact Sheets, Encyclopedias, Evidence-Based Reports, Images and Diagrams and Alternative Sources to name a few.

[read the rest of this post…]


For many students at DeKalb County Schools, it’s science fair season. Fortunately, your neighborhood DeKalb County Public Library branch has some resources for you. There are three places to look:

Reference Books – Ask the Librarian!

These are the books we keep at the library so everyone has a chance to read them. Please leave your test tubes and microscopes at home!

Science Experiments on File
(older editions here and here)

IndexaspxHistorical Science Experiments on File – Perform for yourself science experiments that made history.

Books to Check Out – You’ll Need a Library Card

The call number for science project books is 507 (or J 507 in the juvenile section). Here are some standouts:

Anything by Robert Gardner – we have 75 books on many different types of science projects.

Janice VanCleave also has a great many options for science projects.

Online – Using Your Library Card at Home

The Library subscribes to the Student Resource Center, which is available on our Databases Page.

You can use this inside the library, or from home. Either way, once you’re in the Student Resource Center, type in “science experiments” in the search box to bring up all the many options we have.

Have fun, but try not to blow anything up!!Images


10. They are portable. Take them absolutely anywhere – in the library that is.

9. They don’t need power from outlets or batteries. That’s one great thing about all books!

8. They can perform advanced searching too – or help you do it. Many have multiple indexes and tables of contents, and they even tell you how to use them.

7. Teachers love them.

6. Librarians love them. We’ve been using (and recommending them) for years.

5. They are trustworthy. Editorial staffs spend tons of time fact-checking and verifying.

4. They can be very general, or very specific in nature. You can read the entry in World Book on the Lewis and Clark expedition, or you can browse a whole encyclopedia about it.

3. No waiting in line. Actually, they’re waiting for you, right on the shelf.

2. We foot the bill. Some reference sources are very, very expensive. Trust us – you wouldn’t want to pay for your own copy.

1. When the internet (or the printer) isn’t working, they are!

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Nov 27 2007

Library Basics – A Catalog Tip

by Chris S

Many of the questions we get at the library reference desk involve the use of our catalog. People want to be self-sufficient and to find what they are looking for, and part of our job as librarians is to teach the public how to use the catalog themselves. Many people expect the library catalog to behave like Google or Amazon in the way it finds items, but this is not the case. The library catalog what is known as a “finding tool,” and like all tools, it only works when you learn how to use it. Here’s a tip for searching success:

Tip #434 – Use List Searching Instead of Keyword Searching

When you know the specific title or author of a book (or other item) you’re looking for, list searching is the most effective way to quickly find it. Here’s how:

1. On the “Search” bar in the catalog window, click “Lists.”


2. Use the drop down menu to select which list you would like to search.


3. Type in your search terms (spelling must be exact!) and click Go:


4. Click on the correct item on the list of results (for context, your search term will be the third down).


Voila! You have found your list of all the John Grisham titles available at DeKalb County Public Library. This technique works the same way for titles or for subject headings. If you don’t know the exact title or author name, try typing some keywords into Amazon.com or a search engine. That usually allows you to know the information you need to use our catalog most effectively!

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Sep 19 2007

We're off to see the WIZard…

by Heather O

Questions about health? Confused by your doctor? Go and ask the WIZ, the Wellness Information Zone, that connects you to health information.


DeKalb County Public Library is excited to be a part of a new pilot program which provides health information in three of our branches: Decatur, Chamblee, and Wesley-Chapel William C. Brown (photo). Developed by the Humana Foundation partnered with Libraries for the Future, the WIZ is a specially designed website where you can find information and links to a variety of health care topics from medical conditions to exercise and fitness. The WIZ website will also link to information on insurance programs and many websites, including the WIZ, have Spanish language content.

Using the WIZ is easy, each of the three branches has a special computer station that can be accessed with your library card and PIN or a guest card. Your time on the WIZ computers is a part of your normal internet access time at DeKalb County Public Libraries and you can also print from the WIZ stations.

Wellnesszonelaunch091207 DeKalb County Public Library Director Darro Willey was among those on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony at Atlanta-Fulton Public Library September 12 launching the Wellness Information Zone project. The project’s aim is to provide reliable health care information online.

Photo: From left to right: John Szabo, Director, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library system; Darro C. Willey, Director, DeKalb County Public Library; former Atlanta Hawks basketball star Dominique Wilkins and Virginia K. Judd, Executive Director of The Humana Foundation.

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