Return to Virtual Reference Desk
CIA World Factbook - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/
Extensive country information, maps, charts, and
DoD Almanac - http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/almanac/
This web site provides a variety of information and
statistical material about the Department of Defense - its people,
organization, equipment, and funding.
Information Please Almanac - http://www.infoplease.com/almanacs.html
Quick facts and overviews covering a range of
topics. The almanac can be browsed or searched.
Old Farmer's Almanac - http://www.almanac.com
Limited free access to the astronomy, weather,
gardening, and food related information found in the Old Farmer's
Virtual Reference Desk - http://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/virtualref.html
Selected Web resources chosen by
The Library of Congress
Atlases & Maps
- MapBlast - http://www.mapblast.com/
Travel direction maps.
- MapQuest - http://www.mapquest.com/
Travel guide and searchable driving
directions for any destination.
- Maps.com - http://www.maps.com/
Another searchable travel guide which also
has other features, such as an Online World Atlas, Topozone,
More than 27,000 notable men and women who have shaped
our world from ancient times to the present day.
Biography-Center - http://www.biography-center.com/
A searchable, multi-lingual biographical directory to
over 10,600 biographies which also indexes and provides links to
biographies available from other Web sites.
Biography - http://www.biography.com/
Entries for over 20,000 of the greatest lives, past and
Prize Winners - http://nobelprize.org/search/all_laureates_c.html
Links to the presentation speeches, biographies, and
other resources for each of the Nobel prize winners since 1901. You can
browse by year, category, or first/last name.
Gallery - http://www.lib.utexas.edu/exhibits/portraits/
From the Perry-Castañeda Library, University of Texas at
Austin, public domain portraits of famous people that may be used freely
in any project.
Use the search box at the top of the page to find
biography, discography, songs, and more for musicians from many genres.
Find a Poet -
The Academy of American Poets collection of biographies
on more than 450 poets.
Internet Movie Database -
Use the search box on the left side of the screen and
change the search mode to people. Most actor entries will include a
brief bio, a filmography, and lots of links to interesting facts.
Several biographies include excerpts or reprints from reputable print
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: 1774 to the
Present - http://bioguide.congress.gov/
Search by name, position, state, party or year. In
addition to the bios, you'll find links to the House and Senate history
Web sites with more details on people who have served in Congress.
Political Graveyard -
An incomplete but unusual database of politicians and
government officials. The coverage of the site includes "certain federal
officials, state officeholders and candidates in all 50 states, state
and national political party officials, federal and state judges, and
mayors (including candidates at election for mayor) of qualifying
POTUS: Presidents of the
United States - http://www.ipl.org/div/potus/
Named after the Secret Service code for "Presidents of
the United States", POTUS, part of the Internet Public Libary, provides
information on all 43 presidents, listed in chronological order.
Presidents of the United States -
The White House web site includes bios for all
Presidents and their wives "from from the book The Presidents of the
United States of America written by Frank Freidel and Hugh S. Sidey
(contributing author), published by the White House Historical
Association with the cooperation of the National Geographic Society."
Judges of the
United States Courts -
"The Federal Judges Biographical Database contains the
service record and biographical information for all judges who have
served on the U.S. District Courts, U.S. Circuit Courts, U.S. Courts of
Appeals, and the Supreme Court since 1789."
Nations Secretaries General -
Biographies of past and present Secretaries General of
the United Nations.
U.S. State Department
Biographies - http://www.ipl.org/div/potus/
Biographies of senior officials and Chiefs of Mission
representing the State Department.
National Inventors Hall of Fame - http://www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/1_0_0_hall_of_fame.asp
Browsable or searchable by invention or inventors name
and includes a time-line of inventions.
Distinguished Women of
Past and Present - http://www.distinguishedwomen.com/
Biographies of women who contributed to our culture in
many different ways, including writers, educators, scientists, heads of
state, politicians, civil rights crusaders, artists, entertainers, and
North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century : A
Biographical Dictionary - NetLibrary
resource requiring on campus use or prior registration for off campus
Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, Vol. 1219,
by Jules Heller, made available by NetLibrary. (You must
register first as a NetLibrary user on an IP authenticated computer
anywhere at Brewer Library, the Huntsville Campus Library, or anywhere else on Calhoun's
Living or Not?
Alive? - http://www.deadoraliveinfo.com/
Browse or search the database for famous people to
confirm whether they are dead or alive. Database also includes brief
Who's Alive and Who is
Dead - http://www.whosaliveandwhosdead.com/
Another resource that helps in keeping track of which
famous people have died and which are still alive.
Social Security Death
Index - http://ssdi.genealogy.rootsweb.com/
Generated from the U. S. Social Security
Administration's Death Master File, this database includes birth date,
death date, last residence, and social security number.
American Heritage Dictionary - http://www.bartleby.com/65/
The 3rd edition (1996) made available at Bartleby.com.
Information Please - http://www.infoplease.com
Choose the dictionary.
Merriam-Webster Online - http://www.m-w.com/
Definitions and a sound file for proper pronunciation.
One-Look Dictionaries - http://www.onelook.com/
Index to more than 6 million words found in 990+
WordSmyth - http://www.wordsmyth.net
English dictionary and thesaurus featuring a word of the
day and various search options including definition, pronunciation and
synonyms all hyperlinked. From the University of Chicago AFTFL Project.
A Web of
Online Dictionaries - http://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/rbeard/diction.html
A directory of over 600 Web dictionaries, including
foreign language dictionaries.
YourDictionary.com - http://www.yourdictionary.com/
Features an index of 1,200+ dictionaries in more than
200 languages and other word tools including 60 specialized
Acronym & Abbreviation
Acronym Finder - http://www.acronymfinder.com/
A searchable database of 109,800 acronyms/abbreviations
and their meanings, with a focus on computers, technology,
telecommunications, and the military.
World Wide Web Acronym
and Abbreviation Server - http://www.ucc.ie/acronyms/acro.html
A searchable database of more than 17,845 acronymns,
Language Brower - http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/aslweb/
Access "video of thousands of ASL signs and learn
interesting things about them courtesy of Michigan State University."
A Basic Chaucer
Glossary - http://www.towson.edu/~duncan/glossary.html
A list of words from Chaucer's work with a modern
Handspeak - http://www.handspeak.com/
A sign language dictionary featuring video clips
demonstrating hundreds of American Sign Language terms.
Medicine.Net's Medical Dictionary - http://www.medicinenet.com/Script/Main/AlphaIdx.asp?li=MNI&p=A_DICT
Browse or search for terms. Many entries include linked
references to other relevant information.
Merck Manual of Diagnosis
and Therapy - http://www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual/
The 17th edition from Merck is searchable or browse by
table of contents.
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations -
The 10th edition with over 11,000 searchable quotations
(the 17th edition of this work is available in print at both Calhoun
Community College libraries).
Simpson's Contemporary Quotations - http://www.bartleby.com/63/
1988 edition with over "9,000 quotations from 4,000
sources organized into 25 categories and 60 sections."
Computing - http://foldoc.doc.ic.ac.uk/foldoc/index.html
A searchable dictionary of terms and acronyms with over
Dictionary - http://www.computeruser.com/resources/dictionary/
Search for more than 7,000 high tech terms.
Telecom Glossary 2000 - http://www.atis.org/tg2k/
Search or browse this glossary of telecommunications
terms that began as the Federal Standard 1037C, Glossary of
Telecommunication Terms glossary.
Word & Phrase
Behind the Name: Etymology of
First Names - http://www.behindthename.com/
A searchable database of first names, or you can browse
by alphabet, geography, or a set of categories (i.e., Biblical, ancient,
Behind the Name:
Etymology of Surnames - http://surnames.behindthename.com/
Search the database or browse by geography or ethnicity.
IdiomSite - http://www.idiomsite.com/
A dictionary of the origins of words and phrases.
American Universities - http://www.clas.ufl.edu/au/
Links to the homepages of American Universities granting
bachelor or advanced degrees.
Colleges - http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/cc/
Search for community college web sites by name,
location, or keyword.
Internet Universities - http://www.geteducated.com
Browse by graduate or undergraduate programs.
ERIC Clearinghouse for
Community Colleges -
Find a community college, search the ERIC database for
documents, and read about community college related graduate programs.
IPEDS College Opportunities
OnLine - http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cool/
Link to over 9,000 colleges and universities in the
United States, including large universities, small liberal arts
colleges, specialized colleges, community colleges, career and technical
college and trade schools.
Search - http://www.petersons.com/ugchannel/
Search for colleges and universities by name, location,
tuition, enrollment size, average GPA, or student/faculty ratio.
People & Phone
AT&T Real Yellow Pages - http://www.realpageslive.com/
The online version of The Real Yellow Pages with
residential, business, and government listings.
Infospace.com - http://www.infospace.com/
Search yellow pages, white pages, and public records.
Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Locator -
Search for lawyers by name, firm, location, or
Social Security Death Index - http://ssdi.genealogy.rootsweb.com
An interactive search at RootsWeb of over 72 million
social security death records. This source is updated monthly.
Switchboard Dictionary - http://www.switchboard.com/
Nationwide telephone and address directory.
Reverse Look-Up - http://www.anywho.com/rl.html
Enter a phone number to retrieve the person or business
associated with that number. This is an AT&T sponsored directory.
YellowPages.com - http://www.yellowpages.com/sp/yellowpages/
Another AT&T sponsored directory. It includes
separate search pages for businesses or residences in addition to city
and consumer guides.
Online Newspapers - http://www.ipl.org/div/news/
A directory of online newspapers from around the world
which can be searched by keyword or browsed by region or title.
A directory of online newspapers listed alphabetically
and searchable by location.
Associations on the Net - http://www.ipl.org/div/aon/
A collection of hundreds of Internet sites providing
information about a wide variety of professional and trade associations,
cultural and art organizations, political parties and advocacy groups,
labor unions, academic societies, and research institutions.
The site of the Biotechnology Association of Alabama.
In addition to membership information, site includes news and events
information on the state and national levels.
NIRA World Directory of
Think Tanks - http://www.nira.or.jp/past/ice/nwdtt/
Links to public policy institutes from over one hundred
countries, including more than 70 from the U.S.
Register - http://www.processregister.com/
A database of manufacturing suppliers and services.
With 80,000 vendors and over 20,000 products, it is worth a look, but
does not come close to replacing Thomas Register of Manufacturers (see
below) for depth and coverage.
Register of Manufacturers - http://www.thomasnet.com/home.html?navsec=header
ThomasNet is an industrial search engine that allows you
to keyword search or browse by company or category to find products,
services, or suppliers. It also includes line-item product details, CAD
drawings, and more.
Zip Code Directory - http://www.usps.com/zip4/
From the US Postal Service, a database that lets you
look up zip codes by address, city, or company.
Get Educated.com - http://www.geteducated.com./
A safe place to research distance degrees. "No Degree
Mills - No Unaccredited Colleges - No Online Universities Accredited by
The Elements of
Style - http://www.bartleby.com/141/index.html
Written by William Strunk, Jr. and made available online
JobStar - http://jobstar.org/tools/resume/
Tools for preparing resumes, including resume styles,
samples, cover letters, and other resources.
Occupational Outlook Handbook -
"Revised every two years, the Handbook describes what
workers do on the job, working conditions, the training and education
needed, earnings, and expected job prospects in a wide range of
Periodic (Chemistry) Table -
The periodic chart and information about the elements
from Los Alamos National Laboratory's Chemistry Division.
The United States
Government Manual - http://www.gpoaccess.gov/gmanual/
This official handbook of the Federal Government
provides "comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative,
judicial, and executive branches."
of Alabama -
A free, online reference resource on Alabama’s
history, culture, geography, and natural environment.
Encyclopedia Mythica -
Online encyclopedia on mythology, folklore, legends,
and related subjects.
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy -
A browsable encyclopedia of articles on philosophy
edited by two philosophy professors. Most articles are signed
contributions; those that are not are considered temporary entries
to be replaced in the future.
The Literary Encyclopedia and
the Literary Dictionary - http://www.litencyc.com/
An online encyclopedia written by over 1000 named
scholars, most of whom are current university teachers, with over
2550 profiles of writers, works, and topics. New records added every
Encyclopedia of Philosophy - http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html
"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
Editorial Board before they are made public."
Networks & News
Associated Press - http://www.ap.org/
ABC News - http://abcnews.go.com/
BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) -
Interactive - http://www.cnn.com/
News - -
MSNBC - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/
Reuters - http://today.reuters.com/news/home.aspx
Voice of America -
Docuticker.com - http://www.docuticker.com
Direct links to new reports from government agencies,
NGOs,think tanks, and other groups.
First Things First - http://www.refdesk.com/first.html
A quick guide to wire services, newspapers, and other
sites for current information on the Web.
Newspaper Archives on the Web - http://www.ibiblio.org/slanews/internet/archives.html
Provides links to Web versions of 62 U.S. newspapers
from 29 states and their full-text online back files.
Newswise - http://www.newswise.com/
A clearinghouse for press
releases from universities, nonprofit organizations, PR firms,
government agencies and corporations. You can search the site
and/or sign up for daily email alerts.
OnlineNewspapers.com - http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/
A directory of online newspapers, listed alphabetically
and searchable by location.
Online Newspapers from around
the World (Internet Public Library) - http://www.ipl.org/div/news/
Search the database, or browse by country or publication
Television News Archive at
Vanderbilt University - http://tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/
Abstracts of more than 30,000 individual network evening
news broadcasts and more than 9,000 hours of special news-related
programming, all of which are available for online loan requests (for a
RSS News Feeds
RSS Specifications - http://www.rss-specifications.com/
An "everything you need to know" site about RSS,
includes explanation of RSS, what you need to create, display, and read
RSS feeds, directory of RSS sites, forums and more.
RSS Feeds.com - http://www.rssfeeds.com/
A good directory of RSS feeds that you can search or
American Fact-Finder -
From the U.S. Census Bureau.
Bureau of Economic Analysis -
Vast economic data arranged by categories: national,
international, regional, or industry. You can also use the index to
locate relevant data.
Bureau of Justice
Statistics - http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/
The source for criminal and justice system
statistics on the federal level. Includes links to the FBI data,
juvenile justice statistics, and other relevant online collections.
Bureau of Labor Statistics -
A huge source for data on employment, spending,
demographics, productivity, occupations, and more.
Bureau of Transportation Statistics -
Search or browse by mode of transportation, subject
(i.e., safety, infrastructure, etc.), or agency.
Economic Research Service -
The Department of Agriculture's statistics portal.
In addition to numerous sources for farming and food data, you'll
find data on rural issues, land use, conservation, and foreign
Energy Information Administration -
In addition to large datasets, you can access
reports about energy prices, consumption, policy, and more.
FEDSTATS - http://www.fedstats.gov
Statistics of interest to the public from more than
70 federal agencies.
Statistics Service -
Another Department of Agriculture Web site. This
one includes the Quick Stats database, The Census of Agriculture,
and historical data.
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) -
The CDC's expansive data sets on issues of health,
birth, aging, and death.
National Center for Health
Statistics - http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/
From the primary organization that collects,
collates, analyzes, and reports statistics on American education.
State Labor Market
This site provides links to the state offices with
statistical data on labor and workforce issues.
of the United States -
Also known as the National Data Book, this
source has statistics on social and economic conditions in the
United States. You can view the current edition or past editions.
Statistics of Income -
Access the IRS statistical data on individual,
corporate, charitable, and estate taxes. The site includes large
data sets and full-text reports.
U.S. Census Bureau -
Searchable statistics by subject which can also be
The UN site for statistical data on member
countries. Good for comparing country data.
International Statistical Agencies -
Links to official government statistical sources for
countries around the world.
Nations Economic Commission for Europe -
Links to official statistics for Europe and North
America. This site includes government sources, nongovernmental
sources, and links to other regions.
Statistics Division -
Links to the UN's free and fee-based statistical
EPI DataZone -
The Economic Policy Institute's statistics dealing
with the labor market, earnings, and income.
for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) -
An archive of research and instructional data in the
social sciences. ICPSR archives census enumerations, health
statistics, attitudinal and behavioral surveys, opinion polls and
other data are collected from government agencies, individual
researchers and other sources.
The National Election
Studies - http://www.umich.edu/~nes/
NES conducts national surveys of the American
electorate in presidential and midterm election years. The NES
time-series now encompasses 23 biennial Election Studies spanning
Network of State Polls -
The site contains a data archive containing over 350
state-level studies (consisting of over 31,000 questions) from 22
survey organizations in 19 states.
Polling Report.com -
Large set of public opinion polls - elections, State
of the Union issues, national security, and news items (abortion,
immigrants, stem cell research, etc.).
Public Agenda -
Guides to 'hot topic' issues, current policy issues
and public opinion data, and research studies, news, press releases.
The Roper Center: Public Opinion Matters -
The free section of The Roper Center's enormous
collection of public opinion polls.
CBS News Polls - http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/opinion/polls/main500160.shtml
National public opinion survey data.
The Gallup Organization -
A source for public opinion data since 1935. This
site is regularly updated with selected recent Gallup Polls and
special reports. Most data is available for a fee only.
Polls - http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/timespoll/
Public opinion poll results.
Washington Post Polls -
Public opinion poll results and commentary.
Zogby News -
This site contains public opinion poll results,
commentary, news archives, and articles on polling facts and myths.
Center for Writing Studies - Citation Styles -
From the University of Chicago at Urbana-Champaign, this
site "summarizes and illustrates the bibliographical formatting rules
for two different citation styles: the American Psychological
Association (APA) style and the Modern Languages Association (MLA)
Columbia Guide to Online Style -
The publisher's web site for a guide to citing online
sources. This page does not provide complete access to the style guide,
but does provide sections for the elements of a citation and documenting
sources in the text.
The Elements of
Style - http://www.bartleby.com/141/index.html
Written by William Strunk, Jr. and made available online
Guide for Citing
Electronic Information -
From the William Paterson University of New Jersey, this
cite provides examples of citations for e-mails, online articles, online
reference books, and Web sites.
Psychology with Style
A hypertext guide to writing research reports for
students and instructors of experimental and research methods courses.
Handbook: MLA Documentation -
Citation examples from the MLA Handbook provided
by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center.
The Write Source - MLA
Guidance for citing
electronic sources using the MLA style. Provides an overview
and several examples.
The Write Source -
APA Style - http://thewritesource.com/apa/apa.htm
Guidance for citing
electronic sources using the APA style. Provides an overview
and several examples.
Thesaurus - http://thesaurus.reference.com/Roget-Alpha-Index.html
Browse the thesaurus alphabetically.
WordNet - http://wordnet.princeton.edu/
The official site for accessing Princeton's mammoth
thesaurus of the English language.