A very common type of question in the Los Angeles Public Library is finding information to help people make decisions as consumers of products and services. These questions can range from buying a vacuum cleaner or automobile, to selecting the best school or college, to finding a good lawyer or doctor, to checking on a bank to make sure it is safe, to finding out if you have a collectible candidate for the Antique Road Show, to picking the best places to live and travel, to seeking recommendations on books to read or movies to see.
This article is intended to offer just a tiny sampling of the wide variety of topics that are requested and a few of the online resources selected by the library’s staff on the Web Resources, Research Guides, and Research & Homework sections of the Los Angeles Public Library website. Perhaps one of these might lead to an answer for one of your own questions.
Los Angeles Public Library Web Resources
LAPL Web Resources—Business and Company Information—Banking
Bank Rate Monitor http://www.bankrate.com
How safe and sound is a particular bank or credit union?
Who has the best interest rates for a one-year CD?
LAPL Web Resources—Consumer Information
Consumer Information (from the Federal Trade Commission): http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/
Where and how do you get your free annual credit reports?
Help! You are a victim of identity theft. What should you do? Where can you find help?
California Dept. of Consumer Affairs http://www.dca.ca.gov/
Is your auto repair shop licensed in California?
Who handles complaints about security alarm companies?
Better Business Bureau http://www.bbb.org
How does your favorite store rate with the Better Business Bureau and has the Bureau received any complaints about the store?
Find ratings on mobile cellular smart phones.
Check out gadgets and gizmos promoted on TV infomercials.
LAPL Web Resources—Health
Board Certified Medical Specialists http://www.abms.org/
Medical Board of California http://www.mbc.ca.gov/
Check out your doctor’s certifications, background, and disciplinary actions.
LAPL Web Resources—Education & Grants/Foundations
Compare your local schools with other public schools in California.
College Rankings: U.S. News and World Report http://www.usnews.com/rankings
Identify some of the top-rated colleges and universities.
LAPL Web Resources—Legal Information
Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Locator http://www.martindale.com/
Find a selection of top attorneys near you in a specialty you need.
LAPL Web Resources—Movies & Television
Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com
Movie Review Search (Query) Engine http://www.mrqe.com/
Find movie reviews and MPAA ratings of your favorite movies or new ones coming out.
LAPL Web Resources—Literature
For your reading group, you are seeking fiction books from the last 10 years that are winners of distinguished awards such as the National Book Critics Circle Award and other awards
LAPL Web Resources—Travel & Geography
Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com/
Rough Guides http://travel.roughguides.com/
Find recommendations for things to see or do for your next trip
CDC Travel Information http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel
What health precautions and preparations should you consider for your next overseas trip?
Los Angeles Public Library Research Guides
Kelley Blue Book http://www.kbb.com/
Information and prices about new and used cars.
Valuation of Collectibles
In addition to the Central Library’s resources listed first, also offers web links for auction, antique and collectibles sites near bottom of page
You have some furniture created by a famous designer. Might any of it be valuable?
Research & Homework
For even more help, library’s online subscription databases and other online services offer the ability to search and find articles, reports, reviews, ratings, commentary from magazine and newspaper articles, and even selected books. Access from outside the library requires a valid LAPL library card.
Suggested general resources include:
Axis 360 (eMedia)
General OneFile (Gale): magazine, journal articles
ProQuest Newsstand: magazine, journal, and newspaper articles
And some more specialized ones offer more unique content, such as:
ABMSDirectory.com: certified doctors
Business Insights: Essentials: includes reports on companies for investors
Health & Wellness Resources Center: includes information on medications and diseases
Literature Resource Center: includes criticism and reviews
NoveList: fiction reader’s advisory
Standard & Poor’s NetAdvantage: offers industry overviews, company data and evaluations for investors