General Reference

Almanacs and Encyclopedias

Encyclopedia Britannica

The venerable print encyclopedia in an online form. It has the gravitas of a traditional source but the convenience of easy access.

This is an online encyclopedia aggregator site. In one search you can find articles from multiple encyclopedias. A one stop shop for any topic.


If you are interesting in learning about languages, rather than learning the language, this is the site for you. It includes many statistics and lots of background information on a large variety of world languages.


Infoplease has created an online encyclopedia much like the more traditional print encyclopedias. All manner of topics are covered. In addition to the encyclopedia, they offer access to a thesaurus, a dictionary, an atlas, and other useful resources.

LookLex Encyclopedia

In addition to the articles, this encyclopedia provides a number of illustrations that can be of great assistance.

Old Farmer’s Almanac

The famous Farmer’s Almanac has long term forecasting and crop information along with a host of other topics.

Atlases and Maps

Google Earth

This online atlas, from Google, offers you a download to install on your computer and use offline.

Google Maps

The online only version of Google Earth, Google maps offers you powerful route planning tools (including such features as traffic delays/congestion and bicycle routes). Overlays display hotels, restaurants, schools and much more.

How Far Is It?

Type in two locations on earth, and this site will tell you the distance between those locations, as the crow flies, in miles, kilometers, and nautical miles. The site will also give details of heading direction and degrees, the latitude and longitude of each destination, and the amount of carbon footprint you would leave if traveling by plane, train, or car.

National Geographic Maps and National Geographic MapMaker Interactive

These two National Geographic sites provide access to a wealth of map resources. MapMaker Interactive has many interesting map overlays, from locations of earthquakes and volcanoes to language diversity and population density.

Old Maps Online

Search the web for historical maps, dating back to the year 1000, at this website.

Rand McNally

This is the online edition of the famous Rand McNally Atlas. In addition to the normal atlas usage, their site also provides the ability to get driving directions.

University of Texas Map Sites

The University of Texas brings you an extensive database of historical maps as well as modern looks at the earth (including NASA satellite imagery).

Libraries and Archives

The British Library

The British Library, created from the book collection of the British Museum, is one of the oldest and largest collections of books and materials in the world. Their Item of the Week feature gives a fascinating glimpse of some of the treasures in their collection.

Digital Public Library of America

“The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science” (from their About page 12/11/2014).

Internet Archive

Through the Internet Archive, find current and historic web resources on a wealth of topics. Their Open Library project attempts to create a web page for every book ever published and includes an ebook lending library and access to free ebook titles for classics in the public domain (also see the Internet Archive’s Digital Books collections).

Internet Public Library

Hosted by a consortium of schools, the Internet Public Library is home to a wide variety of online resources for research or leisure purposes.


Find web resources by category (e.g. language, media, money) or search the entire Web using the iTools Search Toolbox, which allows you to search any of a number of popular search engines and websites at one location.

Library of Congress Web Guides and Virtual Reference Shelf

The Library of Congress is the national library for the United States. It and the British Library compete for the title of Largest Library in the World. You can browse their extensive collection from this site. The Library has created extensive Web Guides similar to our own Online Information Desk. Browse by topic to find excellent web resources. Ask a Librarian allows you to ask a Library of Congress librarian for help in research. There are also some live chat options depending on your subject of interest.

Libraryspot tries to bring together the best research resources into one website. The Reference Desk section will connect you with online resources on almost any topic.

National Archives

The National Archives offers access to a large collection of primary sources, public records, and significant documents of American government history.

New York Public Library

The famed New York Public Library, the third largest library in the world, has an outstanding website and catalog. You can browse their extensive photo gallery or take a look at their digital collection.

OCLC WorldCat

OCLC (which stands for Online Computer Library Center) is an organization that seeks to promote worldwide access to library resources. Their product WorldCat allows you to search the catalogs of libraries around the world for books and materials.


This site promotes the use of public libraries and can help you find materials you are looking for. It also contains articles on the past, present and future of libraries. In addition to public libraries, this website can connect you with college and university libraries, presidential libraries, state libraries, and public records offices.

Refdesk will connect you with 20,000 online resources, including some Help and Advice and Just for Fun resources.

The WWW Virtual Library

This virtual library contains links to many things you may be looking for. It is hosted by CERN and many links are vetted by experts.

Local and Regional Libraries

Sherrod Library (East Tennessee State University)

Sherrod Library has some outstanding materials in their collection, as well as some useful resources available through their website.

Tennessee State Library and Archives

The Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA), collects and preserves books and records of historical, documentary and reference value, and promotes library and archival development throughout the state.  (From the TSLA site, 11/14/2013.)

Wayne G. Basler Library (Northeast State Community College)

This is the website of Northeast State Community College’s Wayne G. Basler library. Browse their collection or utilize various resources available at their site.


American FactFinder


Using current and historic U.S. census data, Censtats provides robust tools for understanding the U.S. population and projected population. The population clock provides a snapshot of U.S. and world population growth.

Census QuickFacts

Find interesting and useful statistical data collected through the U.S. Census Bureau, including the most current data from the 2010 census. American FactFinder is a section of that provides an easy-to-search snapshot of facts about the United States as a whole and your community. You can also use FactFinder to search census data and download tables. Use QuickFacts to find lists of key census statistics for the country and for each state. The Census website also has a Population Clock which provides world population projected statistics based on the most current available demographic data.


The Social Science Data Analysis Network offers map overlays and trend charts created using  current and historic U.S. Census data. The graphical representations of segregation in the United States are particularly fascinating.

Find useful data about cities, neighborhoods, schools, and restaurants throughout the United States.

Historical Census Browser

If you are looking at the historical population of the US, or individual states, this University of Virginia website should be of use. It provides census data from 1790-1960.


“A trusted source for federal statistical information since 1997. FedStats supports a community of practice for over 100 agencies engaged in the production and dissemination of official federal statistics, and provides the public with a showcase of information, tools and news related to official Federal statistics” (from the About page, 12/11/2014).


Nation Master allows you to compare countries in a number of ways, from total population to the number of tractors produced and much more. Also, find useful articles that give context to the numbers.

United Nations Statistics

Information from the United Nations Statistics Division. A broad range of topics are covered.

Other General Reference Resources

100 Search Engines for Academic Research

Instead of doing a Google search, try using one of these alternative search engines on your next homework project. Whether you want to target your search by subject or do a broad keyword search, these search engines will help you avoid advertisements and find reliable information. Some of them even break down sources by grade-level, which makes them ideal for younger searchers.

Replace Your Vital Records

Do you need to replace your passport, social security card, or driver’s license? Need a copy of your school records, a federal tax return or a birth, death, or marriage certificate? This government website provides directions on how to attain these vital records.

Return to the Online Information Desk to find more online resources. If you need more assistance finding information, contact the Johnson City Public Library Information Desk at (423) 434-4454.