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Best of Everything: Los Angeles Public Library as a Link to Consumer Resources

Richard Kraus, Librarian III, Business Department,

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


LAPL Web Resources—Business and Company Information—Banking


Bank Rate Monitor

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):

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

Is your auto repair shop licensed in California?

Who handles complaints about security alarm companies?

Better Business Bureau

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

Medical Board of California

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

Identify some of the top-rated colleges and universities.


LAPL Web Resources—Legal Information

Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Locator

Find a selection of top attorneys near you in a specialty you need.


LAPL Web Resources—Movies & Television

Internet Movie Database

Movie Review Search (Query) Engine

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

Rough Guides

Find recommendations for things to see or do for your next trip

CDC Travel Information

What health precautions and preparations should you consider for your next overseas trip?


Los Angeles Public Library Research Guides

LAPL Research Guides


Automobile Information



Kelley Blue Book

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

For example: and

You have some furniture created by a famous designer.  Might any of it be valuable?


Research & Homework

LAPL Research and 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)

EBSCOhost e-Books

Gale Virtual Reference Library (Reference eBooks)

General OneFile (Gale): magazine, journal articles

OverDrive e-Media

ProQuest Newsstand: magazine, journal, and newspaper articles


And some more specialized ones offer more unique content, such as: 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