Reference FAQs 

Many frequent reference topics can be answered on the Internet...


LII.ORG - the Librarians' Index to the Internet also has a wealth of hand-picked, high-quality reference web sites on these and many other subjects.

Call 650 330-2520 for the MPL Reference Desk. If the line is busy or the library is closed, leave a message and we can usually get back to you within an hour (or within an hour from when we reopen).

Email the MPL Reference Desk to get brief answers to factual questions, usually within 48 hours.  Sometimes a question takes longer to answer or requires your legwork, so we may call you for more information or ask that you visit the library to complete the research.

Books & Other Materials
Online Catalog for PLS - search, place holds for materials in the Peninsula Library System
Other Library Catalogs - search Palo Alto, Stanford and more
eBooks - enjoy Audiobooks and texts, (Overdrive), Computer tech books (Safari), General texts and Cliff's notes (Netlibrary). See details
Lists - of MPL materials, like videos, DVDs, large type books, books on tape/CD, newspapers and magazines
Your Library Account - Renew items; check on holds; see due dates or fines

Notices by Email
- Sign up to start Notices by Email, or update your email address
Book information - Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble tell if books are out of print, not yet published, what formats are available and more
Buy new & used - Best Book Buys (new & used), abebooks (used), BookFinder (new & used)

Book Reviews & Analyses
Literature Resources database - biographies, bibliographies, essays and critical analyses
Literary Criticism - from the Internet Public Library
Barnes & Noble - often has reviews from Booklist, Library Journal and more.
Cliff's Notes - from cliffsnotes.com or netlibrary.com (Netlibrary details)
Sparknotes - study guides, message boards, complete texts and more
Pink Monkey - literature summaries, plus study notes on other subjects
What Do I Read Next? - book recommendations based on genre, title, author, series, more.

General Business Database - get news and current information
Newspaper Database - includes Financial Times and other US and UK papers
Company Database - get profiles and reports on companies
Tools to start and grow a business - web sites from the City of Menlo Park business development office
BigCharts - stock quotes & charts
Morningstar (without subscription) - gives basic ratings of mutual funds.  For the detailed ratings, come to the MPL reference desk to see our print subscription.
Inflation Rate (Consumer Price Index) - covers the Bay Area and the rest of the US
FXConverter - convert currency from 164 countries

Consumer Action - lots of information guides; alerts; surveys of credit cards, bank accounts, and long distance; and more 
Kelley Blue Book - used car prices
NADA Appraisal Guides - prices for classic cars, motorcycles, boats, RVs and more
Fuel Econonmy Site (EPA) - MPG and more for cars (1985 to the present), light trucks, minivans & SUVs
Recycleworks - where to recycle/reuse almost anything in San Mateo County and beyond
Computer Donating - Computer Recycling Center., National Cristina Foundation, KidSource Online
Junk Mail reduction - register online, or use the link on the right side of the page to download a printable form for mailing.
Telephone Solicitation reduction - "National Do Not Call" list
Email Advertising reduction
Consumer Price Index (Inflation Rate) - covers the Bay Area and the rest of the US

Community College class schedules
City of Menlo Park classes
SchoolWise Press - public school rating information for San Mateo Co.  Printed version at MPL reference desk includes schools in Santa Clara Co.

Equipment in the Libraries
Wireless Network - free Internet access for laptop computer users
Internet computers - signup and policy information for Internet use at PLS libraries
Computers and Software (non-Internet) - word processing & more
Audio-Visual - cassette & CD players, microfilm & fiche readers, VCRs
Miscellaneous Equipment - typewriters, cameras, engravers & more
Accessibility Devices - Kurzweil Reader, magnifiers, Visual Tek, CCTVs

City Council agendas and minutes
How to Reach Your Lawmakers
Voter information - Shapethefuture.org for SMCo, and Smartvoter.org from LWV California
TaxesIRS, CA or other states' tax forms and instructions 
IRS en Español
Forms from the Feds - many downloadable government forms
Legal Codes - Menlo Park; California (includes Vehicle Code); United States (includes IRS Code)

Community Information Program - database of health and human services in the Bay Area

National Library of Medicine - includes MEDLINE, Senior Health, Research Programs, more
PLS Databases - Health & Wellness Resource Center and other PLS databases are available from home with your PLS library card
New York Online Access to Health (NOAH) - information in Spanish and English
Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) - guide to prescription drugs 
Health Library - at Stanford shopping center has a large collection, much available online
Clinical Trials - information from the National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine
National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) - search for a specialist (requires free registration)
AMA Online Doctor Finder - search by name or specialty, limit by location
Medical Dictionary - browse or search
Vital Records - where to get certificates of birth, death, marriage, divorce
Obituaries - the MP Historical Association has a collection of clippings from local newspapers. The System Reference Center does archival obit searches in the San Jose Mercury News and SF Chronicle. Also, here are obituary sources focused in Santa Clara county.

City of Menlo Park jobs - includes any Menlo Park Library openings too
Bay Area job web sites - compiled by a PLS librarian
PeninsulaWorks - for job search help, visit them in Menlo Park or Daly City
CONNECT! Job Seeker Center - in Sunnyvale
Opportunity Knocks - for non-profit jobs in the Bay Area

Other job sites - from the Librarians' Index to the Internet (LII.ORG)
Occupational Outlook Handbook - job / career descriptions, earnings, requirements and outlook
VolunteerMatch.org and VolunteerInfo.org - connecting volunteers with opportunities

Lawyer Referral in SMCo - low-cost appointment with a lawyer to get you started
Bay Area Legal Aid - largest provider of free civil legal services in the Bay Area
Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Locator - search by name, firm, area of practice, more
FindLaw - Law, Lawyers and Legal Resources
NOLO Press - publisher of self-help law books features their 'Plain-English Law Center' 
Legal Codes - Menlo Park; California (includes Vehicle Code); United States (includes IRS Code)

Lists of Our Materials
Books -

CDs - DVDs- Create your own List -
  1. Go to the Catalog’s Advanced Search
  2. In list of search limits, look for Collections
  3. In the Collections dropdown list, scroll down and choose a Menlo Park collection
  4. Click Search
Periodicals - Magazines and Newspapers that MPL owns

Magazines and Newspapers
eMagazines from Zinio - online in full text and full color. Also see FAQs.
Databases for MPL and PLS - most available from home with your library card!
Periodicals - Magazines and Newspapers that MPL owns
Local Newspapers online - Menlo Park Almanac, Palo Alto Weekly, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, and San Jose Mercury News.
World Newspapers

Phone#s and Addresses
Switchboard - one of two largest databases, with white & yellow pages and reverse lookup
Anywho - the other large database, which also has international and toll-free numbers
Which CA Phone Book? - tells you which book to use to find a city's listings. (i.e. Want Berkeley? Look under "O" for the "Oakland, Alameda & Berkeley" directory.)

Infospace - includes other world phone directory links
USPS Zip Code directory
PLS Libraries (San Mateo Co) - hours, phone numbers, addresses and directions

Reference Manuals

Information Please Almanac
The Old Farmer's Almanac
Statistical Abstract of the United States
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Roget's II:  The New Thesaurus
Translation Dictionary for words or web pages
Columbia Encyclopedia
Measurement Conversion

Bay Area Transit - schedules & info for bus, rail, ferry and more
Travel web sites - compiled by a PLS librarian
Passport services
Elderhostel catalogs

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