There is so much going on in the world, sometimes it feels like it’s hard to keep up. You may read news stories about far-away countries and regions that you only know by name (or never heard of!). Fortunately, there are resources to help brief you on the facts.
Explore the great, wide world with the CIA World Factbook. This detailed database provides all of the basic facts about over 260+ world entities. Learn about the history, geography, environment, government and transnational issues of each country/region.
The World Factbook provides a variety of concise information. From land area to coastlines, languages to population density – you can learn as much or as little as you want about any region.
There is even a handy one-page summary for each country.
Traveling to a specific country? Get summarized travel facts on The World Factbook. Find information on VISA/Passport requirements, plug types, cultural practices, and even tipping guidelines. There is also up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 travel to each country.
The World Factbook is a great resource for research, student projects or anyone with an interest!
Helping a patron search for images of dress styles from the turn of the century for their school report? Want to see what an electric car looked like in the 1970s? Or maybe you need photographic evidence of a building that you swear used to be somewhere so you can win a bet with your friends?
Look no further than the Library of Congress (LOC) Prints & Photograph collection!
This collection has records for over 1 million photographs, prints and drawings dating back over 1,000 years. The majority of the collection is primarily from the 19th & 20th centuries and covers a large span of topics, including: architecture, portraits, military, sports and daily life.
Quickly narrow down your search by subject, format, collection, date, contributor, etc., with the easily-accessible filters in the left-hand column. Then download high-quality versions of the images you find – from JPEG to PNG to TIFF.
And when you find one image you like…
…scroll down for additional suggestions for images related to that record.
One downside of this valuable site that must be mentioned is how often this message appears:
“Full online access to this resource is only available at the Library of Congress.” Records with this message are such a tease, though sometimes the metadata included in the record can be very helpful. Other times, these listings can link you to additional useful images or collections that are available to view full-scale images online.
Fortunately, there is a way to avoid this dreaded message altogether: use the “Access Condition” filter on the left to select “Available Online.” This narrows the results to show only records that have viewable images. Huzzah!
While the LOC Prints & Photographs collection is helpful to search, it is equally as fun to browse.
There are curated collections available. Some are cumbersome to navigate (e.g. the Lewis Carroll Scrapbooks and Prairie Settlement collections) but others are very easy to access (e.g. African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition & Aaron Copeland Collection). In the image below, you can see that certain collections have links below the descriptions that say “Collection Items.” Those are the collections that are easier to navigate.
Allegheny County’s Real Estate Portal is an invaluable resource for researching property data within the county. The site offers detailed information on property ownership, building specs, tax info, boundary maps and more. It is especially useful for those researching house/building histories, buying/selling a home, or searching for an address or property owner.
Users can search for property data by address or lot parcel number. In the library world, this search function is really handy when a patron forgets to write down or incorrectly identifies their municipality. Simply search the house number & street name to narrow down municipalities.
Once you find the property you are looking for, you can dive into the data. View general information about the property, including sale data, school district, assessed value from the county, lot square footage, and the deed book & page number which identifies where to locate the deed in the county registrar’s office.
Dig a little deeper when you look under the building information tab. Find what year the structure was built, approximate square footage of the living space, room counts, what type of heating & cooling the building has, etc. This is all helpful information to know, especially when buying/selling a home.
Another interesting feature of the site is that there are images of the structure available. Many images are decades old and can be used to see how homes have changed over the years.
You can also research the previous owners of a home with under the owner history tab. It often lists the current owner & the last two owners of the property. This is a great feature when researching the history of a building. Pair it with a search of the newspaper archive and you can find a treasure trove of information!
Lastly, the map feature is really helpful for when you want to look up general property lines, adjacent building information or get an idea of where county township/borough borders are. The map is interactive so you can move it around and zoom in/out to zone in on the information you need.
Looking for ways to incorporate a fitness routine into your lifestyle? Did you know that Hoopla offers a variety of health & fitness workout videos to keep you moving? All titles are available immediately with no wait! Access is easy with your library card.