NEED SOME HELP FINDING INFORMATION?
After we close at night you can call Nightowl, a service of the Enoch Pratt Public Library in Baltimore.
1-800-325-6483 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 8:00 to 11:00 p.m and Thursday and Friday, 5:00 p.m to 11:00 p.m.
We know our library patrons are super searchers but no, you probably can't find everything you need on the web on your own.
- Much of the best stuff is not available for free on
the open web. And much of the open web material is really trash. You have to
tune up your ability to judge the validity of a source.
- Real writers and real editors still publish good, reliable information for newspapers, journals and magazines. You can access the full text of many of these through proprietary databases. Either you pay for access or someone pays for it for you. We have already paid for your right to access materials at Electric Library and a database of full-text articles from over 2000 magazines and journals. You can use them for free if you have a card from this library. If you have a Montgomery County library card you can also access a number of proprietary databases through their site. (Newspapers, in particular, will put their most recent stories online but you will have to go into a proprietory database to get older stories.)
- Some of the best information is available for free but you need to know go to the specific database and search there. Example: for movie questions your first online stop should probably be the Internet Movie Database. You can locate the best of these subject-specific databases through the Librarian's Index to the Internet.
- The Internet is not a good source for finding explanations. Please read this small essay from Library Dust.
- If finding the correct answer to your question is important to you, you may need to try various search engines. They search different parts of the web and use different methods of ranking results in their indexes. (See boxes at the bottom)
- Did you get some bizarre or misleading results when you searched? Beware of search engine scams.
- If you can't physically go to a library, you can get
reference librarians to help you with your search while you are online, in
real-time. They will be able to get you into proprietary databases as well as
to help you do a skilled search on the open web. Try
the AskUsNow service through Enoch Pratt.
And remember: There are always great reference books. Examples: We have the Encyclopedia of Dance, the Encyclopedia of Slavery ... and many, many more. There are just no online equivalents for their richness of information.