General Reference

Bartleby publishes literature, verse and reference as a free online service. Their comprehensive reference section connects to dozens of classic and modern reference works. They also provide a succinct introduction to each reference book, and each comes complete with the book’s index (linked to its contents) and a search engine. This site is truly a public service. 

BBC In Depth 
The BBC compiles its special reports neatly in one location for quick if not predictably neutral introductions to global issues, players and debates. The reports tend to meld many managable bytes of text, image and audio. As an experience in the consumption of news it can be compared to that of selecting and consuming tapas bites!

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Because it is the main fact-finding agency for the Federal Government, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’s website is a goldmine of statistical information on many aspects of daily life in the US. The site’s user-friendly home is page packed with articles analyzing everything from current employment data to the costs of goods and services, along with charts, databases, answered questions, and - statistics. BLS has managed to contextualize statistics in a way that makes it easy to loose track of time while discovering the fascinating social and economic stories the numbers tell.

Encyclopedia of Life
Truly a reference tool of the 21st century, the Encyclopedia of Life will eventually document, in detail, every single species of the 1.8million that inhabit earth. The project is the desire of E.O.Wilson, renowned biologist, humanist and environmentalist. The realization is possible through a global web of allies formed following Wilson's TED Prize.
One of that class of timesaving websites that are so very useful, GovEngine is hub site that assembles many of the important government links for each American state and territory. Links are divided neatly into Executive, Legislative, and Judicial categories, with extra references for information sites common to all states.

High Beam Research 
A one-stop-shop for those who do research on the Web, HiBeam Research boasts a rich archive of documents and images from more than 3,000 sources, including newspapers and periodicals, encyclopedias and reference books, discussion groups, and more. Simply enter a key word and, within seconds, HiBeam culls through millions of documents, displaying results by relevance. You can also customize your search, limiting it to “newspapers only,” for example, or to a particular publication. Visitors can even save their preferences for speedier searching in the future. Despite its generous database, the site is remarkably quick and easy to use. A free membership will allow you to preview articles, but you’ll need to ante up for a full membership to view the complete text.

International Affairs Resource (Virtual Library) 
In our ever-changing world, it can be a real challenge to keep on top of world events. Enter the Virtual Library’s International Affairs directory, a shortcut to more than 2,500 sources of information on everything from health to foreign policy, from human rights to science. Library visitors can link directly to think tanks, governments, the UN, international nonprofits, and other organizations to get information online, anytime. This site may not win any design awards for aesthetics, but it’s well-organized and a cinch to use.

International Research Libraries Association 
Established in 1972 in order to address the future of independent, privately-supported research libraries. From its inception, IRLA has dealt with common needs and aspirations - how to preserve precious cultural heritage, how best to serve the public and the world of scholarship, and how to finance and manage fragile libraries that must survive largely without the security of public or university support. A venerable organization.

Internet Archive
The Internet Archive was assembled to address a serious issue: because there are no artifacts in the digital world, all its discoveries risk disappearing into the past without a trace. The break-neck speed at which digital information and culture is produced and discarded has left many fearing a “digital dark age,” where there is no means or will to collect and preserve work produced on the internet. In conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute and the Library of Congress, the Internet Archive has taken on the seemingly impossible job of building an Internet Library, open to all. Its mission, “protecting our right to know” and “exercising our right to remember” underlines the vital nature of this Herculean endeavor 

Internet Public Library
This site was founded by a group of Library Studies students looking for a way to connect the resources of a public library to the potential of the internet. IPL is structured like a physical library, with subject collections, a reference area and “reading rooms” for kids and teens. The site’s easy system and friendly tone reflect its creators’ commitment to making information available to all. 

There is such a thing as too much information, or perhaps the real problem is getting to the good stuff. Intute is a free online service designed to address the fact that for all the advantages that the web offers, it is often difficult to sort out reliable and relevant information from the rest. Created in the U.K. as a support system for higher education and research, Intute is a search engine that accesses only material that has been vetted by a network of subject specialists. For academics, teachers, students and researchers this is likely to be an invaluable tool, providing access to trusted information in the areas of Science and Technology, Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Health and Life Sciences. 

Lexis Nexis
For a subscription fee, this “data warehouse” offers an amazingly comprehensive range of online information resources. Business, legal, environmental and media archives; the web’s largest public records database – in all, 31,000 online sources are available through this site. This is an indispensable search tool for anyone needing quick access to authoritative information.

One Look Dictionary Search
A straightforward definition finder. One Look will search through 993 online dictionaries, if you ask it to, a useful feature that allows you to compare definitions. Ask it nicely and it will also find you a translation, although the result is not always an instant answer.

One Look Reverse Dictionary
One Look’s latest feature, the reverse dictionary, will surely find an audience. What could be more useful than search engine that finds the exact word that describes that concept in your head?

Quintessential Careers Writing Resources
Although it’s rather busy looking, this site delivers excellent writing and editing resources, neatly categorized into subject sections. Be aware that not all these resources are web-based, some links will lead you to your local library

Refdesk – Style, Grammar, and Usage
Anyone who has ever had to write a grant proposal, a marriage proposal, a proposal of any kind, will wish that they had seen this page first. In alphabetical order, Refdesk lists and describes an amazing variety of sites ranging from A Rulebook for Arguments to Wired Style - Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age. Bless Refdesk for their orderly, yet lateral thinking!

The Free Dictionary
Well organized and very comprehensive, the Free Dictionary manages to be all things to all people. The site offers many kinds (legal, medical and financial) of dictionaries and encyclopedias beyond the standard English, as well as offering all kinds of attractive and easy to use search tools. What sets it apart from other online dictionary sites is the obvious love of knowledge and word play that the creators have worked into home page features such “this day in history” and “word of the day.”