Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Resource Spotlight: Reference USA

As we all know, the Arlington Public Library subscribes to some excellent online databases that can be accessed at the library, as well as at home. Do you know much about these databases? The library provides descriptions of each database, but these little blurbs can't even come close to describing all the cool things these resources can do for you. Sometimes, it is often best to just dive right in, play around, and see what these resources are all about.

One database that I think truly needs to be explored to be appreciated is Reference USA. It is often described as a "business" database, which it is, but it is useful for so much else that you wouldn't necessarily think were of a "business" nature.

Several times, I have used this database to find contact information. Reference USA is useful to find the contact information of a manager from such and such business. But the other day, I had a gentleman tell me he would like to contact the owners of such and such house so that he could make them an offer to buy their home. We were able to use the residential database to find this information.

Reference USA can really help take the stress out of event planning. A custom business type keyword search for "reception"provided a code for "Halls and Auditoriums" which I limited to the Dallas metro area. In less than 15 seconds I had a list of names , addresses and phone numbers of 109 potential places to throw a party.

Last minute holiday shopping? Your kid wants a Zhu Zhu pet (or whatever) and you can't find it at the last three toy stores you visited. Well, a custom business type keyword search for "toy store" brings a code for "Toys-Retail." Limit it to the however far you are willing to drive for the silly thing, and you've got a list of stores that you can frantically call.

I use this database often. I'll probably use it today. Where do I want to eat for lunch? I am to indecisive to think of a place without help. A custom business type search for "restaurants" with a mile radius from my zip code gives me a list of 30 choices. Fantastic!

I encourage you to play around with Reference USA and see what it can do for you!

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