Share Westmoreland
Regional Library Group


Member Directory

Periodical Holdings List

IU Booking System

Professional Organizations

POWER Library



Librarian Links

Reference Sites

Share Homepage

Ready Reference Resources
On the Web

These Ready Reference Resources On the Web are meant to supplement and support traditional reference works. Look here for quick answers to questions that relate to established data, facts, people, places or similar information. This online reference section has links to information resources grouped as:  Almanacs, biography and genealogy websites, dictionaries, encyclopedias , glossaries, government information, handbooks and guidebooks, maps and geography, quotations, statistics, and other general ready reference sources.

"Celebrating the World of Festivals and Events." Find out basic information about festivals and celebrations that are being held in the world. Has keyword searching.

Information Please Almanac
Find answers to your questions in this wide ranging reference work, which includes an almanac, encyclopedia, and dictionary-- plus lots more. See also their Fact Monster for kids.

Old Farmer's Almanac
One of the first almanacs published in the U.S. is now online.

On This Day
The New York Times provides a look at the front page and news stories about important events from different years. Includes recognition of important birthdays, plus other information related to that day in history. 

States and Capitals (
Look here to find out about the states of the U.S and their capitals.

Today In History
A feature of the American Memory collections of the Library of Congress. A special historical, primary source feature for each day of the year.

Go up to the top of the page

Biography and Genealogy

Biographical Dictionary
Very brief descriptions of over 18,000 people who have helped shape our earth.

Biographies (Homework Center)
Links to biographical information, organized by subject area of the person.

Classical Composer Biographies
Selected classical composers' lives are documented here.

Distinguished Women of Past and Present
"This site has biographies of women who contributed to our culture in many different ways. There are writers, educators, scientists, heads of state, politicians, civil rights crusaders, artists, entertainers, and others. Some were alive hundreds of years ago and some are living today."

WIC Biography Index
Links to biographical information about various "women of accomlishment". Created by the Women's International Center.

Genealogy Websites

Behind the Name
Focus is the origins of common first names, plus other interesting facts associated with the name, such as famous people with that name. Includes sections on: Sources of First Names, Languages Referred to in this Site, Common Elements in First Names, and The Top Fifty Names. Includes many countries and cultures of the world.

Family History Research & Fine Heraldic Art (From Infokey)
Search for the origins of your surname.

Family Search
Access to the large databases of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints is provided here.

GenWeb Project
"A group of volunteers working together to provide Internet websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. This Project is non-commercial and fully committed to free access for everyone."

Greek Mythology
Find out the relationships between the Greek gods, including stories of their lives, and their Roman/Latin names.

This site contains a variety of information on heraldry and related topics, in the form of texts, images and links.

RootsWeb Genealogical Data
A set of links to search engines and databases for genealogical data. See their RootsWeb Surname List (RSL) for lists of names. 


Go up to the top of the page

Dictionaries,  Thesauruses 

See these sub-sections:

General Dictionaries  Specialized Dictionaries  |   Foreign Languages

General Dictionaries

Cambridge Dictionaries online ©
Three different Cambridge dictionaries may be searched from this site:  International Dictionary of English, Dictionary of American English, and the Learner's Dictionary.

Dictionaries and Thesauruses
A handy collection of online dictionaries and thesauruses to aid you in your research and writing! Included dictionaries for foreign languages as well! (From the University of Texas at Austin.)

Specialized Dictionaries

a.k.a. (Author Pseudonyms)
Here is where you go to find out the real name of an author who is using an alias (pseudonym). As of 9/26/01 there were 10,982 entries (3,924 'real' + 7,058 'pseudo') listed.

The American Heritage® Book of English Usage
A source of information on "grammar, style, diction, word formation, gender, social groups and scientific forms."

Artlex Dictionary of Visual Terms
Find out about terms and words used in the art world, including "definitions of more than 3,100 terms here, along with numerous illustrations, pronunciation notes, great quotations, and links to other resources on the Web."

A Basic Dictionary of ASL Terms
Here are a few American Sign Language terms to help those of you who are trying to communicate with a person who signs, but does not hear. Also included is the basic alphabet and numbers 1-10.

Connected Thesaurus (Lexical FreeNet)
"Allows you to search for relationships between words, concepts, and people. It is a combination thesaurus, rhyming dictionary, pun generator, and concept navigator." Fun to play with: Includes related word browsing links.

A Dictionary of Units of Measurement
Helpful for converting units of measurement.

Dictionary Links (Specialized-- Human-Languages Page)
Dictionaries dealing with specific subjects and areas of interest are listed and linked here, as well as general dictionaries.

The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Hypertext Ed.)
"This classic work of reference - described as a browser's joy - has been in popular demand since 1870. The Dictionary is extensively cross referenced, lending itself ideally, to the hypertext environment. This First Hypertext Edition is taken from Dr. Brewer's substantially revised and extended edition of 1894."

The Nonverbal Dictionary
defines the meanings of gestures, signs and body language cues. Explains how people communicate with their body movements and expressions. "From Adam's-Apple-Jump to Zygomatic Smile"

OneLook Dictionaries
Searches various specialized dictionaries, and then organizes their results, so that the user can choose the context in which the word is to be defined.

Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences
"This social science dictionary has 1000 entries covering the disciplines of sociology, criminology, political science and women's study with a commitment to Canadian examples and events and names.... a product of Athabasca University and ICAAP." 

A Web of Online Dictionaries
Hosts an English language dictionary and links to numerous dictionaries for languages of thre world. Scroll down the page to access the many links.

Roget's Thesaurus Search Form
An online, searchable version of Roget's Thesaurus, a recently updated version, which will find synonyms very quickly, and allow you to link to different major sections with ease.

Word-Online General Language Dictionaries
WORD-ONLINE contains links to general language dictionaries that available free in the WWW or the Gopher. In WORD-ONLINE You will find monolingual dictionaries like the Webster's or bilingual like Finnish - English Dictionary or even multilingual dictionaries.

The Wordsmyth English Dictionary-Thesaurus (WEDT)
A full dictionary and a complete thesaurus, integrated into one work; you only need to look up a word once, with hyperlinks to synonyms, and similar or related words available where appropriate.

WWWebster Dictionary
An excellent hypertext, online dictionary, offered by the Merriam-Webster Company, a well known publisher of reference books.

Specialized dictionary on Information Technology, and explains the meaning of words, but also includes concepts and phrases.
Foreign Language Dictionaries

Chinese-English Dictionary
"Provides a searchable interface.... by Chinese (using either the Big5, or GB encodings), pinyin, or English."

Dictionary of Spanish
Translate words to-and-from English and Spanish.

Spanish-English On-line Dictionary
Translate (with definitions provided) from English to Spanish. This is part of Travlang's Translating Dictionaries, which has dictionaries for many languages. Online German, Spanish, French and Italian Dictionaries
A dictionary publisher provides dictionaries from several of the world's languages. Translates both directions.

Go up to the top of the page

Encyclopedias, General and Specialized

General Encyclopedias

Columbia Encyclopedia
Contains "nearly 51,000 entries (marshalling six and one-half million words on a vast range of topics), and with more than 80,000 hypertext cross-references."

Encarta Encyclopedia (Free Version)
This is a scaled down version of the commercial version, but still worth checking if you don't have access to a full version. 

Infoplease Encyclopedia and Dictionary
A combined small encyclopedia and dictionary.

Specialized Encyclopedias


Offers "a comprehensive index of every artist represented at hundreds of museum sites, image archives....have now indexed 700 leading arts sites, and offer more than 24,000 links directly to an estimated 80,000 works by 7,000 different artists." Search  or browse by movement, medium, name of artist, nationality, etc.

Encyclopedia of Graphic Symbols
"Symbols.Com contains more than 2,500 Western signs, arranged into 54 groups according to their graphic characteristics. In 1,600 articles their histories, uses, and meanings are thoroughly discussed. The signs range from ideograms carved in mammoth teeth by Cro-Magnon men, to hobo signs and subway graffiti."

History, Law & Social Science 

Encyclopaedia of British History
A wonderful historical encyclopedia created in Great Britain, and made freely available on the Web by Spartacus Publishing Company.

Encyclopedia of the Celts
The goal of this work is to "give the reader access to a fragment of the contents of some of the greater and lesser know works of Celtic Literature; including works of mythology, legend, fiction and history." 

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
"Articles ... are currently from three sources (1)adaptations from public domain sources, (2) adaptations of material written by the editor for classroom purposes, and (3)original contributions by professional philosophers around the Internet." Includes timeline, table of contents, and keyword searching.

Legal Encyclopedia
Nolo Press offers this collection of articles on a wide variety of legal topics. "Plain-English articles on the legal topics that affect you most."

Religion & Mythology

Catholic Encyclopedia
An encyclopedia related to matters involving the Catholic religion. This is a broad area, with much historical and biographical information about many, many related things.

Encyclopedia Mythica
An on-line encyclopedia about mythology, folklore, legends, and more...


The PLANTS Database
Encyclopedic in scope, includes names, checklists, automated tools, identification information, species abstracts, distributional data, crop information, plant symbols, plant growth data, plant materials information, plant links, references, and other plant information.

Technology (Mostly Computer-related) 

An online encyclopedia that covers technology and all things related to computer technology and the Web. Very thorough and complete, with links back and forth between many concepts and topics.

Go up to the top of the page


Abbreviations and Acronyms of the U.S. Government
When you hear people use strings of letters (acronyms) when referring the government, such as "ARPA", do you wonder what they stand for? This page shows what they stand for and link to the government agency.

Acronym Search - The ultimate acronym tool
When you hear people use strings of letters (acronyms) when referring to something, such as "CIA", do you wonder what they stand for? This page tells you some of the possible meanings.

Asia Reference
Explains terms used with the study of Asia. "Features a growing general glossary of terms covering Economics, Business, Politics, Arts, and Religion... currently lists more than a thousand terms with a particular strength in the Arts and Religion."

Financial Terms Glossary (Yahoo!)
Find out the meaning of terms related to investing, such as stocks, bonds and commodities. At the top of the page, click on the first letter of the term you want explained.

Glossary of Grammatical Terms
Concise chart of common grammar terms, with Latin meanings as well. 

Glossary of Internet Terms
Find out the meaning of words and phrases related to the Internet. Provided by Matisse Enzer, Internet expert. 

Hypertextual Finance Glossary
"Over 6,000 Entries, More than 16,000 Hyperlinks, The largest financial glossary on the Internet. Developed as a result of teaching Global Financial Management at both Duke University and the University of Chicago."

Sports Glossaries
Use glossaries to four popular sports: soccer, ice hocky, football and basketball. Simply click on a name of the sport for definitions of terms and phrases.

The World Wide Web Acronym and Abbreviation Server
This is a list of (mostly) acronyms (abbreviations constructed from the first letters of the words of a phrase), not a dictionary or encyclopedia. For example, if you want to know that ALANON stands for, you can find out by searching here.

Go up to the top of the page

Government Information

The only official U.S. Government portal to 30 million pages of government information, services, and online transactions; it offers "a powerful search engine that searches every word of every U.S. government document in a quarter of a second or less." Browse according the subject of information you desire.

Info USA
Information about many agencies and departments of the U.S. government, produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State.  Created for foreign audiences seeking information about American society, political processes, official U.S. policies and culture, but useful for all as an accurate source of data and information.

Ben's Guide to American Government for Kids (Grades 9-12)
Find out here about the various agencies and services of the U.S. Government. The guide provides learning tools for K-12 students, parents, and teachers. These resources will teach  how our government works, the use of the primary source materials of GPO Access, and how one can  use GPO Access to carry out their civic responsibilities. 

Congressional Glossary (C-SPAN)
Are you wondering about the meaning of some of the terminology associated with the U.S. Congress? This glossary allows you to click on any term used in Congress to see its definition.

Historical United States Census Data Browser
The data presented here describe the people and the economy of the US for each state and county from 1790 to 1960. Data is accessible and organized into decades for most of the time periods.

US Census Bureau
The provider of timely, relevant, and quality data about the people and economy of the United States.

Handbooks and Guidebooks

All Music Guide
Explains the different styles of popular music, from bluegrass and country to gospel and rock. Includes essays and background information on the styles, performers and other aspects of popular music. Includes a glossary, discographies, and "music maps" which trace the development of various styles, with a nice "decades" listing section.

American & English Poetry: 1250–1920
This superb poetry site (at Bartleby.Com) contains five separate collections of poetry: 1)The Oxford Book of English Verse; 2) Yale Book of American Verse; 3) Modern British Poetry; Modern American Poetry; 4) Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th C.; and 5) The Golden Treasury. The collections may be searched by keyword, and browsed via: Indexes to Poems: Chronologic, Author, Title, First Line. 

American Verse Project- Texts
The American Verse Project is a collaborative project between the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative (HTI) and the University of Michigan Press, is assembling an electronic archive of volumes of American verse prior to 1920.

American FactFinder
General information about the American people gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Phone, fax, e-mail addresses are searched for here. Special sections are available on toll-free numbers.
A Web portal for all things association-related! Find out about groups, organization and associations dedicated to a wide range of topics and interests.

AwardWeb: Collections of Literary Award Information
Lists of science fiction literary award winners. "The emphasis is science fiction awards, but you'll find other literary awards as well."

Baseball Basics: Major League Baseball
The rules of the game as played by Major League Baseball teams.

"A site dedicated to reading, which offers fiction reading lists, book reviews, forthcoming titles, author information and much more."

CIA Kids Secret Zone
History, Geography, and the World Factbook presented by the U.S. Central Intellihence Agency, designed especially for kids!

The CIA World Factbook
Wide variety of information about countries of the world, including maps, prepared by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

CNN Travel Guide
Maps, city guides, travel directions and much more travel information is offered here by CNN.

Cagle's Professional Cartoonists Index
A very large, well-organized and indexed collection of editorial cartoons. 

Calendar Conversions
There are many different calendars in use. This converter converts one into another.

Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments
If you want to know who the top government officials are in any country of the world, please look at this page. It is offered by the CIA!

Cliché Finder
Looking for a "well worn phrase"? "Over 3,300 clichés indexed!"

Consumer Search Product Reviews
Find evaluations and reviews of  commonly used or purchased consumer goods. Includes review categories such as Electronics, Computers, Sports & Leisure, Office, etc. 

Ethnologue: Languages of the World
Find information about the 6,800 main languages plus 41,000 alternate names and dialects languages by the many peoples of the world, organized by maps and charts, with descriptions and other helpful data.

A Glossary of Literary Terms and 
A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices

"This book contains definitions and examples of more than sixty traditional rhetorical devices, all of which can still be useful today to improve the effectiveness, clarity, and enjoyment of your writing."

The Greatest Films
Offers  interpretive, descriptive review commentary and historical background, a wealth of film reference material (including a complete Academy Awards History and Film History - by decade), and hundreds of colorful, vintage film poster reproductions for some of the best Hollywood and American classic films in the last century.

How Stuff Works
Explains in detail what makes a wide variety of things function, from air conditioners to jake brakes to tattoos.

How things get done (
Explains how to do things, and where to buy what you need to do it with.

Internet 800 Directory
Directory of free toll free, 800 and 888 listings of businesses by company, number and type of industry, regardless of long distance carrier. Yellow page advertising, Web pages and banners available.

The Internet Movie Database
Find out about the different movies, actors, directors and other interesting background on films. Huge! See their Oscar Awards section! 

The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (17th ed.)
The Merck Manual - Home Edition
Two highly used and acclaimed sources of medical information are available. Use each according to your information needs.

Periodic Table of the Elements
Find information about the elelemnts that make up our physical world. Very basic and simple.


Go up to the top of the page

Princeton College Review
Online version of the famous guide to colleges. Lots of basic information available here related to colleges.

Representative Poetry Online
Excellent collection of the great poets of the English language, courtesy of Ian Lancashire. Poetry has been selected with editorial comments by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto from 1912 to 1996. Included is an extensive collection of criticism, both in verse and prose forms. The works are indexed by poet, title, date, keyword and first line. 

Robert's Rules of Order Revised
The copyright on the original 1915 version has expired. However, the modifications and enhancements to this work are Copyright © 1996 Constitution Society.

RxList - The Internet Drug Index
Search for information about common prescribed drugs here.

Social Security Handbook
This is "a readable, easy to understand resource for the very complex Social Security programs and services.... [which are] so complex it is impossible to include information about every topic... the most common and helpful information."

Stock Market Fact Book (NYSE)
"The Fact Book delivers the year in review. Read about trends, market performance, the global marketplace and the happenings of our listed companies." 

Tax Statistics
Information about the financial composition of individuals, business taxpayers, tax exempt organizations and more.

TV Guide Online
TV show listings, and some reviews as well. See the section "TV Listings" for the program schedules in your area. 

Telephone Directories
An index of online phone books, with links to Yellow Pages, White Pages, Business Directories, Email Addresses and Fax Listings from over 150  countries all around the world.

The Tree of Life
"A collection of over 1,380 World Wide Web pages containing information about the diversity of life, authored by biologists from around the world. Each page contains information about one group of organisms."

World Flag Database
In addition to flags, "There are over 260 pages on countries and international organizations. Each page contains basic information on the country, including its formal name, capital city, area, population, currency, languages, and religions."

The ZIP Code Look-Up and City/State/ZIP Code Association
If you need to look up a ZIP Code, the USPS has the answers.

Go up to the top of the page

Maps, Gazetteers and Geography

     Click to see our special section on Gazetteers below.

Altapedia Online
"Contains full color physical and political maps as well as key facts and statistics on countries of the world."

Atlas Maps - The National Atlas of the United States of America
The National Atlas of the United StatesTM is intended to provide a comprehensive, map-like view into the enormous wealth of data collected by the Federal Government. 

The Fascinating World of Maps and Mapping
This is a very handy place to find maps of places of the world. It has many, many other mapping resources as well! Browse the index to find the information you need. Their Gazetteer section is quite extensive, covering the entire world. 

Historical Map Web Sites
Collection of links to maps of places in earlier times. Provided by The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection.

How far is it?
"Finds the latitude and longitude of two places, and then calculates the distance between them (as the crow flies). It also provides a map showing the two places."

Maps and References
"The maps which are listed are categorized by geographical region although there are a couple of thematic categories such as Interactive Maps which both highlights the potential of the WWW and are also fun to use."

Map Collection at Perry-Castaneda
Many maps from countries around the world are available here, at this excellent online map collection. Maps are organized by continent, and then by country. World maps are also available, and this one is very detailed and expandable.

Map Machine (National Geographic)
Some maps from the world famous National Geographic organization.

U.S. Geological Survey
Geographical information for the United States is offered here. See and browse their new section: USGS Information by State for information on Earthquakes, Floods, Maps, Public Health, Volcanoes and other similar/realted topics.
There are many types of gazetteers, and a number of the various types are linked below. Take a look at them!

U.S. Gazetteer
Find geographic facts about places in the U.S.

The World Gazetteer
Offers current population figures for cities, towns and places of all countries.

Other Typical Gazetteers
Alexandria Digital Library Gazetteer Server
Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names(Research at the Getty)
The Global Gazetteer: 4 million places on file
World Gazetteer: population figures for cities, towns and places
Bill Thayer's Gazetteer of Europe

Astronomical Gazetteers
The Galactic Gazetteer
Planetary Nomenclature Introduction

Historical Gazetteers
A Roman Gazetteer
Gazetteer to Locations in The Political Graveyard

Mythology Gazetteers
A Gazetteer of Arthurian Sites
The Gazetteer of Mysterious Britain

Geography Learning Resources
National Mapping Program Teaching Packets

Go up to the top of the page


Creative Quotations to Inspire Creative Thinking
Provides thousands of quotations, organized and searchable by various arrangements (e.g., month, day, theme, famous person.)

From Doug Turner, The Quotations Server
Simply enter your search text in the box, and the results will be displayed in a list.

Quotations About Libraries and Librarians
A subject guide to topical quotations about libraries and librarians.

The Quotations Page
Lots of quotations are available here, including the Quote of the Day. Each day a quotation is selected and made available by the click of your mouse. If you want more quotes, try the Random Quotations Page, which chooses new quotes every time you load it.
Quotations on many topics, by many authors, and in many possible fashions.

TV's Great Quotations
"Quite simply, this is a collection of quotations from good television shows. "

WebElements Periodic Table
The Preiodic Tabel of the Elements includes basic information about the chemical elements of the scientic world.

Go up to the top of the page


2003 World Population Data
"...contains the latest population estimates, projections, and other key indicators for 200 countries, including births, deaths, natural increase, infant mortality, total fertility, life expectancy, urban population, HIV/AIDS prevalence, contraceptive use, GNI PPP per capita, land area, and population per square mile.
"A growing collection of over 40,000 adherent statistics and religious geography citations -- references to published membership/adherent statistics and congregation statistics for over 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, ultimate concerns, etc." 

Baseball:  Major League Baseball Historical Stats
Check the statistics of any and all professional baseball players. 

Encyclopedia of ED Stats
"Brings together data from several NCES sources including: The Condition of Education (click here for 2001 edition), The Digest of Education Statistics, and Projections of Education Statistics... find information by searching documents through their table of contents."

Offers a "full range of official statistical information available
to the public from the Federal Government; track economic and population trends, health care costs, aviation safety, foreign trade, energy use, farm production, and more; collected and published by more than 70 Federal agencies." Or, go directly to their: Statistical Reference Shelf: Published collections of statistics available online including the Statistical Abstract of the United States. 

This is "an easy-to-use, two-step database that allows you to view and compare the most up-to-date statistical data for the Member States of the United Nations.... Statistics and indicators are provided by the United Nations Statistics Division from the World Statistics Pocketbook, Statistical Yearbook and Demographic Yearbook 1995, except languages." 

Public Agenda
A great deal of statistical information on various current issues is available here. "Drawing on its research, Public Agenda prepares a broad array of educational materials that help explain policy issues to the public in a balanced and easy-to-understand way. Citizens can use this information to weigh various choices and make educated decisions."

Statistical Abstract of the United States
Find the mots frequently requested statistics about the United States here. Collected and provided by the U.S. Census.

Statistical Resources on the Web
A statistics "gateway" site that organizes the most useful Web sites according to the type of statistics offered there. Compiled by the University of Michigan Library.

Statistics Every Writer Should Know
Check this place out so that you will be able to tell if someone is "lying with statistics."

Other General References & Collections 

Fast Facts: Almanacs/Factbooks/Statistical Reports & Related ....
A huge collection on non-annotated links to ready reference sources online.

Federal Agencies & Commissions
Various government agencies, listed alphabetically.

Find Articles.Com
This is a free database of magazine and news articles.

Finding Data On The Internet
How to find basic references and information to back up your research. Designed for reporters, but useful to many others seeking information on a wide range of subjects.

HyperHistory Online
"HyperHistory presents 3,000 years of world history with a combination of colorful graphics, lifelines, timelines, and maps."

Pinchbeck - Reference Section
From the famous student's Homework Helper website. Collection of links to ready reference works.

A number of high quality reference books are available here includes "contemporary and classic reference works." - Quick Reference / Research
Collection of links to ready reference works. Check out their main page too!

A large, searchable collection of high quality reference sources which "contains encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, books of quotations and reference works covering a wide range of subjects."

Go up to the top of the page