Fun Fact

Animals like bats, hedgehogs and many kinds of fish all hibernate during the winter!

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Karen, accountant

I needed a place without kids, dogs and husbands to study for my CPA exams. The study rooms were perfect! And if I wanted to be around people and still have relative quiet, I could enjoy some coffee at the cafe or sit by the lake. Without the library, dedicated study time would have been difficult for me. 

 

Reference Tools

Reference Tools

Below are brief lists of great websites for beginning your own research, listed by broad category. Remember that you can always call the WDM Library Reference Desk at 515-222-3403 during library hours, or email us your questions.

Life Links

Books, Music and Entertainment

Hobbies and Interests

Local Interest

Government

General Reference

Travel and the Outdoors

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Business and Finance

  • Better Business Bureaus – Find information on contacting nationwide Better Business Bureaus.
  • US Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics – Accurate statistical data relevant to the needs of site users and to the social and economic conditions of the United States, its workers, and their families. Includes the Consumer Price Index.
  • CNN Money News – Business news from CNN. Includes current stock and mutual fund quotes.
  • DailyStocks – Form for stock look-ups. Excellent links to other financial sites. Ticker symbol lookup.
  • EDGAR database – information on companies and others who are required by law to file forms with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • Forbes Online – Includes back issues of Forbes, Forbes ASAP and Forbes FYI magazines.
  • Hoover’s Online – Links stock and company information. Extensive company profiles.
  • Iowa Economic Development Authority – Links and information aimed at improving the economic well-being of the state of Iowa in the areas of business development, travel, careers, and community development.
  • Iowa Grants Guide – sponsored by The University of Iowa (UI) Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center (INRC), and the Iowa Council of Foundations (ICOF), this resource serves as a web-based directory of grant-making organizations for Iowans. Does not include grant applications, but does provide links to granting organizations’ sites.
  • Small Business Association – Formed by the federal government, this association aids, counsels, assists and protects the interests of small businesses.
  • Thomas Register – search by product or manufacturing area for businesses, suppliers, etc.
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis/ What’s a dollar worth Calculator – Calculator uses the Consumer Price Index (1913 through 2010) as a measure of the average change in prices over time in a market basket of goods and services.
  • Iowa Regional Economics & Community Analysis Program – Iowa Community Indicators Program – ICIP’s goal is to provide easy access to economic, demographic, and social data to meet the needs of Iowa’s communities and businesses.
  • Producer Price Index – Bureau of Labor Statistics – The Producer Price Index (PPI) program measures the average change over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers for their output.
See Also: Taxes

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Consumer Information

  • US Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics – Accurate statistical data relevant to the needs of site users and to the social and economic conditions of the United States, its workers, and their families. Includes the Consumer Price Index.
  • American Association of Retired Persons – AARP is a nonprofit membership organization of persons 50 and over dedicated to addressing their needs and interests. There is information on health and legal issues, travel, money and work, family and home, fun and games, learning and technology, and issues and elections.
  • AutoBytel (formerly Autotropolis) – interactive tools for new and used car research. Free service.
  • Automobile Leasing: The Art of the Deal – Information on automobile leasing, how to get the best deal from a consumer’s perspective, written by an experienced consumer.
  • Better Business Bureaus (BBB) – Find information on contacting your local Better Business Bureau
  • BBB Wise Giving Alliance – The BBB Wise Giving Alliance “helps donors make informed giving decisions and promotes high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public”.
  • Carfax – This site provides vehicle history reports.
  • Consumer Information Center (CIC) – Consumer information about cars, health, and more. Full text of many of their publications. One of the best consumer resources available.
  • Consumer World – “Consumer World is a public service, non-commercial guide cataloging over 2000 of the most useful consumer resources.”. Excellent overall site. Good starting place for any consumer query.
  • Fannie Mae – The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) includes a home buyer section, with lists of properties for sale and articles about home buying.
  • The Homebuyer’s Fair (and Salary Calculator) – This site offers information on the costs of moving, including a Moving Calculator to estimate the cost of a move and the Salary Calculator, which compares salaries and buying power in different cities.
  • Kelley’s Blue Book – Find the current value (“bluebook price”) of your used car or motorcycle or compare prices on new cars.
  • National Charities Information Bureau – Since 1918, the NCIB has evaluated national charities to “promote informed giving and charitable integrity”.

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Education

  • The College Board – information on the SAT, PSAT, ACT, as well as information on colleges and college planning.
  • Education Reference Desk – Provides links to a variety of primary Internet resources including FAQs for educators, listserv archives, lesson plans, and more.
  • ERIC: Education Resources Information Center – This free database from the United States Department of Education indexes a variety of education-related articles. Some resources are available for free online while others must be obtained elsewhere. Note that we also have ERIC access through our EBSCO databases link (library card required) on our main Databases page.
  • Gateway to Educational Materials – One of the oldest publicly accessible U.S. repositories of education resources on the Web, The Gateway contains a variety of educational resource types from activities and lesson plans to online projects to assessment items.
  • House Committee on Education and the Workforce – The committee that monitors legislation on education, child labor, school food programs, workers’ compensation, vocational rehabilitation, labor wages and hours, and work incentive programs.
  • FAFSA On the Web
  • FastWeb – Search for colleges, scholarships, loans and more.
  • FinAID – “The SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid”
  • Iowa College Student Aid Commission
  • National Center for Education Statistics – “NCES is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data that are related to education in the United States and other nations.” Look here for statistical information on all levels of education. The site includes an encyclopedia of education statistics, an FAQ, activities for children, and a catalog the best search engine based on the information you have, and other resources for teachers.
  • Peterson’s Education Center – Online, searchable versions of the popular Peterson’s educational guides. Active sections are private college-preparatory schools, undergraduate colleges, graduate and professional study.
  • Student Scholarship Search – as with all scholarship search sites on this page, make sure you understand the parameters and obligations of any financial aid listed
  • US Department of Education – Compiles a variety of information relating to government initiatives and educational programs at all levels, education-related grants (look under OERI) and statistics (NCES), and departmental publications. News bulletins about department activities are added frequently. It also provides access to individual state education departments. Searchable index and searchable department phone directory available.
  • US Dept of Education, Post-Secondary Education – info on loans, federal aid, grants.
  • West Des Moines Schools Tutor Directory – “The tutor directory is provided as a resource for the WDMCS students and parents. WDMCS Community Education and the West Des Moines Community School District do not endorse any tutors listed in the Tutor Directory.”

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Email sites (Gmail, Live/MSN, Yahoo)

  • Gmail – From Google, free email service which links you to other Google services like Google Drive and Google Plus. Searchable, large free storage, multi-device.
  • Hotmail/Live/MSN Email Login Site – Login to your Microsoft Account – Live.com, hotmail.com, MSN, Outlook.com.
  • Yahoo Mail login – free email services from Yahoo. Searchable, free email storage.

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Job Searching

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Medicine and Health

  • American Heart Associationhttp://www.americanheart.org/ — Includes the AHA’s Heart and Stroke guide, heart attach risk assessment, home health guide. Searchable site.
  • American Cancer Societyhttp://www.cancer.org — Information on the ACS’ education programs, professional journals. Good lists of Web resources on cancer.
  • Iowa Board of Medicine Find a Physician
  • Health World Online – A large self-health resource on wellness, alternative health, and integrative medicine.
  • Mayo Clinic – Includes information on many health topics (cancer, diet and nutrition, women’s health), as well as drug information.
  • MedLinePlus.gov – Highly Recommended! – From the National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine, includes information written for the lay person on diseases, treatments, drugs and more.
  • National Institutes of Health – Health information, news (including health warnings), grant and contract information. Also lists of scientific resources on the Web. Searchable. A good site.
  • RxList–The Internet Drug Index – Searchable list of prescription drugs. Includes extensive content and interaction information about each drug.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – Information from the FDA on foods, drugs for humans and animals, etc. Has a text-only alternative to its pages, for less powerful browsers. Includes press releases.
  • University of Iowa Health Care – Includes links to their Dental Clinics, Children’s Hospital and more.

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Legal Sites

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Book Club Guides and Reader’s Advisory Sites

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Books – New, Used

  • Abe Books – New, used , rare, out-of-print books.
  • AddAll Book Search and Price Comparison
  • Alibris – used, rare, out-of-print books. Great for checking pricing of collectible books.
  • BookFinder Searching for an out of print book? Call us at the library first! If we can’t get it though, try Book Finder. This website provides information on finding rare and out of print books for purchase.
  • Fantastic Fiction – Fun website that has biographical infomation on authors as well as existing and forthcoming books.
  • Many Books – Download free (classic, new, small press) ebooks to your computer or ereader.
  • NYTimes Bestseller ListsNYTimes site – current and recent lists (use arrows at top of page to go through the last few weeks’ worth)
  • NYTimes Bestseller Lists Archives – old and current NYT Bestseller lists.  Don’t be put off by the horrible website – it’s a handy list of lists in PDF format.
  • Overbooked – Features new books that received starred reviews in library journals. Also provides lists of books for different genres.
  • Powell’s Books – top used book store.
  • Project Gutenberg – Download ebooks to your computer or ereader from this extensive free catalog of titles.

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eBooks and other e-content

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Entertainment

  • E! Online – The Web site for the popular E! Entertainment channel. Gossip, news, bios.
  • Film100– Biographies and timelines for the 100 “most influential in the history of the movies”.
  • The Internet Movie Database – huge listing of movies, over 130,000, with short reviews and ratings by their staff and users. Also biographical information on entertainment industry names. Includes links to additional information on the Web. Searchable.
  • Mr. Showbiz – Entertainment news, features, biographies, reviews.
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum – Information on museum exhibits. Some virtual “tours” of the Cleveland museum. Includes biographical information on Hall of Fame inductees.
  • TV Guide Online – TV Guide’s Web presence. Entertainment news, gossip, listings (including local listings).

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Literature

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Music

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Art and Antiques

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Food

  • Food on the Table A meal planning website with recipes, it also links you up to local grocery stores so that you can plan your meals around what is on sale.
  • The Splendid Table From the popular NPR food/cooking show.
  • Supercook Search for recipes containing ingredients that you already have at home!

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Gardening

  • GardenNet – An excellent site with an information directory organized by category, a garden business homepage center, and a calendar of events.
  • The Virtual Garden – Information on container gardening, including the Time-Life plant encyclopedia and Dig the Net searchable links.

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Genealogy

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Sports

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Iowa and Des Moines Area

  • The Amana Colonies – Iowa’s leading visitor attraction and National Historic Landmark.
  • IOWA BIB – online bibliography of Iowa history and culture. Organized by subject areas, searchable, contains books, periodical articles and specialized materials.
  • Des Moines Downtown Chamber of Commerce – Information on Central Iowa commerce, lifestyles, news and entertainment, as well as the Chamber itself.
  • Greater Des Moines Partnership – Economic development information for the Des Moines metro area.
  • Iowa Small Business Development Centers – “Established in 1981, the Iowa Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) provide free, confidential, customized business advice in all 99 Iowa counties to businesses with 500 employees or less. We also present affordable workshops that teach practical skills and techniques, conduct research, provide comprehensive information services, and offer access to subject matter experts in a variety of fields.”
  • Iowa Department of Transportation – Planning a trip? Check out current construction information.
  • Iowa General Assembly – Includes legislation, congressional calendars, Code of Iowa and more. Official site.
  • Iowa Community and Economic Development – Through Iowa State University, provides “information in support of local community education, planning and change”. Includes economic, demographic and community development information. Public resources.
  • League of Women Voters of Iowa – Iowa chapter of national nonpartisan political organization for women and men which “encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy”.
  • State Library of Iowa – Iowa Library Serviceshttp://www.silo.lib.ia.us — The State Library of Iowa’s site. Includes the “Ask a Librarian” service for legal, medical, public policy, patent and trademark questions.
  • State of Iowa – The State of Iowa’s main home page. Includes links to Tourism, Education and other Iowa Internet Links.
  • State of Iowa Tourism – Includes lists of their publications, a calendar of events, fun facts, travel information, and links to other related sites, like Pella or the Balloon Festival.

    For Tourism, also try: Travel and Tourism

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Local Libraries

  • Clive Public Library
  • Des Moines Public Library – Includes Des Moines and Iowa area information.
  • Urbandale Public Library
  • Iowa State University Libraries – Includes link to their online catalog (searchable). Also lists of reference resources. Includes links to some full-text resources.
  • Library of Congress – Here you can search the LOC’s catalogs, as well as searching the site itself by subject. They have provided a number of original publications/exhibits which are worth viewing. They also provide a link to THOMAS (see below), which they administer.
  • New York Public Library Online – Created by the NYPL, which is both a public library for the city of New York, but also a group of research libraries. This site includes information about the library itself, as well as guides to Internet resources, exhibits, links to their catalogs (research and branch), a list of their publications, and more.
  • University of Iowa Libraries – Links to their online catalog (OASIS), as well as Internet resources and a Virtual Exhibit.

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Government and Politics

  • The Electronic Embassy – “The Electronic Embassy links the staffs and resources of the Washington D.C. embassy community to their constituencies in business and industry, education, the press and government.” Includes a FAQ and links to embassies on the WWW. Searchable.
  • FedStats – More than 70 agencies in the United States Federal Government produce statistics of interest to the public. The Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy maintains this site to provide easy access to the full range of statistics and information produced by these agencies for public use.
  • Government Printing Office – Access to Government publications, including the Federal Budget and the Federal Register.
  • Library of Congress – Here you can search the LOC’s catalogs, as well as searching the site itself by subject. They have provided a number of original publications/exhibits which are worth viewing. They also provide a link to THOMAS (see below), which they administer.
  • Presidents of the United States (POTUS) – Created by a staff member of the Internet Public Library, includes biographical information on all 41 presidents. Includes some audio and video clips and other links. Also odd facts, election results and information on first ladies, vice presidents and other related persons.
  • State and Local Government on the Net – Guide to government sponsored Internet sites. Searchable. Good Iowa links.
  • Thomas: Legislative Information on the Net – One of the best sources available for current U.S. legislative information. Includes current House and Senate bills and text of the Congressional Record.
  • U.S. Census Bureau – Includes access to full information from the 1990 census, as well as some current population updates. Also links to other federal government statistics. Excellent site.
  • VoteSmart: Non-partisan political information – Tracks the performance of over 13,000 political leaders. Includes biographies.
  • White House – Visit the White House online. Includes information and biographies on U.S. Presidents as well as information of Federal services and the White House itself.

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Taxes

  • The WDM Library has a Tax Help Page with links to forms, instructions, local resources and more.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – Federal tax site – get forms, instructions, publications and more. Includes forms from previous years and filing information.
  • Iowa Department of Revenue – Iowa state tax information for individuals, businesses, local government, and tax professionals, including: online services, tax forms, and publications.
  • Federation of Tax Administrators – Information and links of value to tax administrators and the general public alike. Includes links to state tax agency home pages, state tax forms and electronic filing sites, general information on state tax structures.

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Voting Information

  • Project Vote Smart Find information about American government, elections, candidates and voting, along with your local representatives.
  • USA.gov The home page for the USA government.
  • Vote411This helpful site from the League of Women Voters assists with finding your polling place, registration information, and learning what’s on your ballot.
  • Voterinfonet.com The website of the Cook County Election Department, this site includes information on registering to vote, upcoming elections and representative information.

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Article Search

  • Our very best articles/periodicals resources are available through EBSCOHost. See our Web Tools and Databases page for more information and the links to this resource.
  • Articles Base Free online article search. You can also upload articles to this site. Be cautious about the authority of information here.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals Search the DOAJ for free articles from full text, vetted scholarly journals of all subjects.
  • Illinois Newspaper Project A project from the University of Illinois, to preserve newspapers through microfilm. Browse the catalog or explore holdings by county.
  • MagPortal Online article search from magazines.

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Biography

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General Reference

  • Abbreviations and acronyms dictionary Find definitions for over 4 million abbreviations and acronyms.
  • ALA Best Free Reference Websites A link to the best free sites for reference of all kinds, from the American Library Association.
  • AnyWho Search white and yellow pages, or do a reverse telephone lookup at this site.
  • Bartleby Use this site for online reference versions of dictionaries, thesauri, and more.
  • The CIA World Factbook The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 266 world entities. View maps of the major world regions, as well as Flags of the World, a Physical Map of the World, a Political Map of the World, and a Standard Time Zones of the World map.
  • Computing Dictionary Use this free online computing dictionary to look up computer-related terms.
  • Dictionary.com Need to look up a word? Dictionary.com is a free online dictionary that uses definitions from reputable reference sources. There’s a thesaurus here, too!
  • Fact Monster An online reference source, Fact Monster includes an online Almanac, Dictionary, Encyclopedia, and Homework Help.
  • Foundation Center The website for the Foundation Center. Find funders, foundation information, including information from the 990 tax forms, access reports on giving and more, here.
  • Guinness World Records Browse the online version of the Guiness Book of World Records.
  • How Far Is It? – This service uses data from the US Census and a supplementary list of cities around the world to find 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.
  • HowStuffWorks Learn how everything works at this fun, encyclopedia-like website.
  • Internet Public Library The Internet Public Library is an index to the Internet, with sites that are recommended by librarians. Browse websites by subject or check out the reference section.
  • Librarians’ Internet Index Similar to the Internet Public Library, the Librarians’ Internet Index is a pathfinder of websites across the Internet, selected by librarians and organized by subject.
  • MapQuest Online Maps and Directions
  • Metacritic Find reviews for Movies, TV, Video games, Music, and more at this review site.
  • New York Public Library Online – Created by the New York Public Library, which is both a public library for the city of New York, but also a group of research libraries. This site includes information about the library itself, as well as guides to Internet resources, exhibits, links to their catalogs (research and branch), a list of their publications, and more.
  • The Old Farmer’s Almanac Browse the Old Farmer’s Almanac online.
  • Print What You Like Save paper by printing only what you want from any website.
  • The Quotations Page Your Source for famous quotes.
  • Recycling Centers Find a local recycling center for electronics, cars and other items.
  • RhymeZone Writing a poem that rhymes? Use this online rhyming dictionary to help find suggestions for hard-to-rhyme words.
  • timeanddate.com This helpful site contains information on holidays, daylight savings time changes, and all timezones across the world. Also includes weather, dialing codes and more.
  • Top 5 Citation Applications Instructify’s list of the top 5 citation applications for students, along with the links to the sites for these useful tools.
  • USPS – ZIP Code Lookup Looking for a zip code? Find it here at this easy to use site, provided by the United States Postal Service.
  • Voice of the Shuttle a great resource for those doing research in the humanities, Voice of the Shuttle was created by the University of California at Santa Barbara.
  • WolframAlpha Experience a new way to search with WolframAlpha, the “world’s first knowledge engine”. Searching the web on WolframAlpha is quite different than what you might be used to with Google. Give it a try and see what you think!
  • WordReference.com A helpful language translator.
  • Zabasearch Free online people search.
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Geography

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History

  • Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents – Inaugural addresses of the presidents, in full text, from Washington through Clinton. Originally a government publication, this has been mounted on the Web as part of the Bartleby project.
  • IOWA BIB – online bibliography of Iowa history and culture. Organized by subject areas, searchable, contains books, periodical articles and specialized materials.
  • The Nobel Prize – Information about all of the past Nobel Laureates, organized by prize and year, or searchable. Includes brief biographical information plus links.
  • Smithsonian Institution – Take a walk through the Smithsonian, “America’s Treasure House for Learning”

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Religion and Philosophy

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Science

  • EurekAlert! Find the latest science news at this free site.
  • The National Science Digital Library Find free online articles and resources for students of science.
  • U.S. Science This government site provides an extensive pathfinder to science websites, organized by topic.
  • Webelements- Online Periodic Table Perfect for science students. Browse information by element.
  • World Wide Science Gateway – “a global science gateway—accelerating scientific discovery and progress through a multilateral partnership to enable federated searching of national and international scientific databases and portals.” Searchable scientific and technical research and data from around the globe.

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State Tourism Sites

A list of official state Tourism websites, with travel and tourism materials such as online vacation guides and tourism links for that state. This is also the place to look for contact information for state tourism departments, or to order a free print copy of an official state vacation guide.

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Travel and Tourism

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