Books, Articles from Online Databases, the Internet...
How Do I Choose Which One to Use?

Selecting the correct resource to use for your research can be puzzling.
Before choosing a resource, you must define at least a  preliminary topic, or have a general idea of what you need to find out.

        There is no "magic formula."  Your choices of which resources to use can change with every new topic you research. A little knowledge about the differences between these resources and the types of information that they contain can help you decide. Often, a combination of resources--with a particular emphasis on one or two--will be necessary for your research.

The Internet
Ah, the Internet, one-stop-shopping for all your research needs? 
"Hardly!" Or, "Absolutely!"  It depends on what you are trying to find.  
Here is a short list of free information you can find on the Internet:

  • General background information -  on the Web, there are free versions of  encyclopedias, like There are also web directories  like the WWW Virtual Library and   How Stuff Works is another example of the type of information you can find. Sites found by using directories can provide background information, or very specific information (or both).
  • "Reference" type information - what librarians call "Ready-Reference", like almanacs, encyclopedias, all types of dictionaries and  thesauri, telephone books, maps, etc. 
  • Graphics - the World Wide Web is a graphical creature, and images abound. There are image databases of   artworks, buildings, photographs, and others.
  • Statistics and Demographics - international data about population, income, labor, education, economics, health and other topics are available in many places on the web.
  • Company & Industry information - company websites can have a great deal of information, including the company's annual report, mission statement, what they do, and how well they say they do it. Try a search engine to find them, or the old trick of typing You can find brief company information on the web, or annual reports. See Gutman Library's resource page for company and industry research for additonal ideas and specific library databases.
  • Organizations and Associations  - and their related missions and publications.
  • Government agencies- both United States and foreign.
  • Foreign countries - the Library has many links under Internet Resources for Areas of the World 
  • Biographical information - notable people from around the globe can be researched easily using either a search engine or a biographical web database or directory, like
  • Obscure information - There are websites and web pages devoted to just about EVERYTHING, from the French Revolution to carnivorous plants. Unfortunately, ANYONE can mount a website for the world to see. Therefore, "The Absolutely-Ultimate-Definitive-Guide to (you-name-it)" could be authored by a complete crackpot.