Find your library
Libraries are great resources for finding sources and research.
Libraries are organizations that have been tasked with helping local community members find the information, knowledge and skills they need. Wikipedia is a free research tool, helping readers check information and find research materials. Librarians are trained to help members of the public use tools like Wikipedia as part of the lifelong learning. By going to your local library or asking questions of librarians online, your can learn how to better find and use the information you need, when you need it; many librarian can also help you use Wikipedia more effectively (librarians can click here to learn more about teaching).
This page outlines different strategies for finding and engaging your library to help with your own research, whether for your personal research or to help contribute to Wikipedia. After all, Wikipedia is a summary of information from reliable research materials. To learn more about using Wikipedia in Research see our Research Help page.
How can libraries help?
- Libraries provide print books and other research materials. You can search for materials cited in Wikipedia articles, but additionally, you can browse the library’s shelves by subject, as most library collections are arranged topically. If you are unsure of where to find materials on your subject matter of interest, ask a librarian.
- Libraries subscribe to online databases and other electronic resources, providing free access to materials that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. This can be a good place to search for articles you find cited on Wikipedia articles that are behind paywalls. Different library systems have different electronic resources, so you may want to search a few local libraries for the type of content you are hoping to find. Additionally, many of these libraries have an Interlibrary Loan system that will allow you to obtain materials from other libraries at your local branch.
- Libraries provide research guides and other educational resources that help users learn how to research better. These may offer simple research skills, but often, they offer information for more involved strategies and can lead you to thinking about search and finding information and content in new ways.
- Librarians teach instructional sessions on a variety of topics, from information literacy to use of specific resources and more
- Librarians answer reference questions and help find materials on a particular topic. Most libraries have reference or information desks designed to help patrons find materials. Asking a librarian for help locating information on your topic can also mean making the most out of your library’s visit. A librarian will know more about each branch’s interlibrary loan capabilities and digital services, on top of in-house collections.
- Libraries often have free internet or computer access. Some libraries will require that you have a library card to access their computers, but you can often sign up for a free library card with a photo ID.
- Some libraries lend tech resources like iPads or cameras. Check with your library to see if what resources are available and to learn about how they may be used.
- Some libraries provide a current awareness service to allow users to keep up-to-date on new scholarly literature
How can you find a library near you?
How can you access library resources?
- Get a library card! At most public libraries this is free if you can show that you live in the library's geographic area. Some National Libraries provide digital services and/or a library card as well.
- Explore the library website! Libraries in many parts of the world provide online access to resources for those with a library card or those visiting the library.
- Make use of interlibrary loan. Even if your local library does not have a particular book or journal, they can often borrow a copy from another library. At many libraries this service is free for members.
What about free resources beyond libraries?
Wikipedia editors also can acquire Library resources from other members of the Wikipedia community. Try: