I read an article the other day about the ‘invisible web’, or the parts of the internet that you can’t find from google or other search engines. There are a lot of fee based databases out on the net, but they cost money so most people don’t know they’re there. For example, at work, we make an extensive legal database (westlaw) that lawyers use to research cases, statutes, etc… You can’t find the stuff on there unless you pay.
Anyway, the article went on to say that many good libraries will give their card holders access to a lot of valuable databases, some of them from home. They also said that in most cases, you can get a card to any library in your state for free. The New York Public Library is one such library, and I just got my card today- they have a lot of encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases and other databases available for free, and my card came in just 3 days! They even have a lot of databases from Thomson Gale, a sister company of Thomson West. (No westlaw though).
It’s really easy to sign up for a card there, so if you live in New York State, try it out, it could be nice to have around if you need to settle an argument, or if your kids need to do research for school.