Sunday, February 8, 2015

More Research Tools for Writers

A while back I wrote a blog post about research tools for writers, and I thought it was time to include some new ones to the list.

One of things I like to do is read up on a certain subject before I write about it. I may use Wikipedia for a brief overview (yes, librarians use Wikipedia), but then I may want a book for a more in-depth view. And if I don't want to spend money to buy it, or my local library doesn't carry it, I check Worldcat. Worldcat is an aggregator of libraries' catalogs so you can search a particular title or author and find out what libraries carry it. Worldcat lists most academic and public libraries, and a few specialty libraries, throughout the world. Is the only copy of a pulp novel you want to read before you finish your noir novel in another state? Then you can see if it's available for ILL (Inter-Library Loan). There's usually a small fee, and there's some restrictions on what items can be loaned, so check your local library for their ILL policy.

Maybe you prefer to do your research online, but you're having a hard time finding just what you need. Then check out the Internet Public Library. This website is maintained by a consortium of colleges and universities with information science programs. Students and information professionals vet websites and organize them by subject, such as Business & Economics, Social Science, and Arts & Humanities. They even offer a free (!) reference service.

If you really want to get in-depth in a subject and take a class in it, check out Gale Courses. See if your local library offers these free (!) 6 week online classes. New classes are offered monthly on topics such as graphic design, personal finance, and healthcare. They also offer courses on creative writing and publishing!

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