For most of us we may find ourselves sitting at a library desk answering routine questions (We hope!) Many times the answers will be on a sheet of paper or a shelf of books behind us.
But there will be times when we'll need to find the answer and you fingers are already on the keyboard. This is a brief survey of the type of information resources that are available for quick ready-reference type questions.
Library Focus Ready-Reference
The Internet for Librarians has a great page that links to Almanacs, Biographies, Maps and other types of fact based information. The Internet Public Library has a master page of links to similar types of items including calendars systems, links to experts and a link to the Department of Defense list of Military Acronyms and Abbreviations.
Lakewood Public Library (Ohio) has a library vetted list of good links for tech dictionaries, charity evaluations sites like Guidestar and Idealist and a link to the Ramapo Catskill Library system which has its own Best Online Reference sites.
And for the folks up north in Canada there is the Ontario Ready Reference page produced by the Southern Ontario Library Service.
Non Library Ready-Reference
Acronym Finder does what it claims, you type in the acronym or abbreviation or initialisms and it will root out a list of associated concepts.
An oldie but a goodie RefDesk has a little bit of everything such as currency converters, links to online encyclopedias, national and international newspapers and so much more. The design is old school 1998 so it is really important to scroll down to get familiar with all the items it contains.
Kathy Schrock over at Discovery Education has a nice list of items such as Phone Directories, Citation guides, Robert's Rules of Order and the World Time Server.
And if you really want to get a taste of the kind of questions folks ask at the library you should take a look at Ask Meta Filter. It is a good opportunity to practice on the kind of questions you might face at a public library desk. After reading a few of the questions I am rethinking my position on cataloging.
Construction of A Ready Reference Page
For those of you interested in becoming librarians or those on the tech side that would like to know how to structure these kind of sites I found an 1998 article on the value of having library reference web sites. Some of the concepts are still valid, however some of the links have evolved, disappeared or changed.