Best Free Reference Web Sites 2012 (RUSA)

| January 28, 2013
Encyclopedia of Life entry on Bobcats

Encyclopedia of Life entry on bobcats

Figuring out what resources you need can be quite the undertaking, and once you know what you need you may still run into trouble trying to read or navigate them if they’re not well-organized or simply trying to get access to them if your library doesn’t already have them.

While not every source is perfect or free or easily accessible, you can still find some excellent free reference resources online. So, stay in your PJ’s, put away your wallet, and check out RUSA’s (Reference and User Services Association) Best Free Reference Web Sites 2012.

While not comprehensive or specific to any one subject area, RUSA’s roll call has reviews of 26 sites and descriptions of their content and features. The list contains sites with expansive databases, ratings and metrics, lesson plans, encyclopedic entries, and interactive activities, and lots of other neat stuff.

The list includes Citation Fox, which is super easy to navigate with its faceted browsing and provides general form as well as examples for each type of resource. Common Sense Media has reviews of a variety of media and gives rating based on age-appropriateness. The Encyclopedia of Earth and the Encyclopedia of Life are both rich sites, which serve as alternatives to Wikipedia for their covered subject areas. Sites with health information include HealthyChildren.org, Kaiser State Health Facts, and Merck Manuals. Yad Vashem, the Khan Academy, and the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade Database all provide lesson plans among other dynamic content. And why not just check out the FBI’s Vault and spend a pleasant afternoon perusing declassified documents?

Khan Academy homepage

Khan Academy homepage

Check out the whole list and complete reviews yourself and feel free to leave a comment letting us know about any other resources this list might have missed!

In case you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, feel free to ask the library staff  here about research assistance or finding books. You can also go here to request materials you’d like that Columbia doesn’t have.