Best Free Reference Websites

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association, has developed the Best Free Reference Websites Combined Index, a compilation of its yearly best reference website lists from 1999-2012. This is a really great, comprehensive list of free online reference resources, covering a wide range of disciplines and subject areas. Here’s a quick look at a few examples:

  • Acronym Finder
    Ever wonder what ASRI, MAEE, or WWWS stand for? You’ll find these acronyms among the over 1,000,000 human-edited definitions on Acronym Finder.
  • LIFE Photo Archive
    A searchable, Google-hosted database containing photographs from the archives of LIFE Magazine, from the 1750s to the present.
  • Kids Count Data Center
    The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Center provides a wide array of data on aspects of child well-being in the United States, including education, economic well-being, health, and more.

If you’re looking for reputable sources of information online, this list is a great starting point. Something to be aware of is that some of the links, especially those featured on some of RUSA’s older yearly lists from the late ’90s and early 2000s, are no longer active. But the majority of what’s included is really useful and worth checking out!


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