Reference and research sites and tools, online encyclopedias, dictionaries

Below are some carefully selected reference resources, research sites and online encyclopedias. All these resources are free. Check back, new resources will be added regularly. Always remember to cite your sources whenever using information for your research!

About .com is a resource for content that helps people to solve the large and small needs of everyday life.

Academic Earth
Academic Earth presents free online video lectures from universities such as UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Michigan, Harvard, MIT, Princeton,Stanford, and Yale in various subjects.

AwesomeStories is a gathering place of primary-source information to help learners find original sources, located at national archives, libraries, universities, museums, historical societies and government-created web sites. Includes thousands of hand-selected and relevant pictures, slide-shows, videos, audio-clips, documents and other primary source materials. Sign up to dig deeper and see everything the site has to offer!
Username: iselibrary
Password: ise123

Countries and their cultures
Good Social Studies resource on World's countries and cultures.

The free automatic bibliography and citations builder.
Video tutorials on using Easybib

The Electric Typewriter Great articles and essays on a variety of topics by the world's best journalists and authors.

Encyclopedia of Science
The Encyclopedia of Science is an online A to Z Science, technology, mathematics, philosophy, etc resource maintained and updated by astronomer-author David Darling.

Digital archive of European countries and cultures. Explore millions of items from a range of Europe's leading galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Books and manuscripts, photos and paintings, television and film, sculpture and crafts, diaries and maps, sheet music and recordings, they’re all here. No need to travel the continent, either physically or virtually!
Free iPad app is available on iTunes.

Fact Monster
Free online reference for Primary school students. Online almanac, dictionary, encyclopedia and thesaurus.

Flickr: the Commons
Catalog of the world's public photo archives.

Free image search.

Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is a non-profit organization that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.
Now the Internet Archive includes: texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections, and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities.

Internet Public Library
"Information You Can Trust"
ipl2 is a public service organization and a learning/teaching environment. To date, thousands of students and volunteer library and information science professionals have been involved in answering reference questions for our Ask an ipl2 Librarian service and in designing, building, creating and maintaining the ipl2's collections. It is through the efforts of these students and volunteers that the ipl2 continues to thrive to this day.

Khan Academy
A free world-class education for anyone anywhere.

NASA Image and video library
NASA has made their entire collection of images, sounds, and video available and publicly searchable online. It’s 140,000 photos and other resources available for you to see, or even download and use it any way you like.

Safe, free image library for education.

Public Domain Project. Make history. Make media.Download thousands of historic media files for creative projects. Completely free and made available by Pond5.

What is Public Domain?

Pros and cons
The purpose of this site is to provide resources for critical thinking and to educate without bias. It researches issues that are controversial and important, and present them in a balanced, comprehensive, straightforward, and primarily pro-con format at no charge.

Discover a new wonder each day.Explore, imagine, laugh, share, create, learn, smile, grow...

World Digital Library
The WDL makes it possible to discover, study, and enjoy cultural treasures and significant historical documents on one site, in a variety of ways. Content on the WDL includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, prints and photographs, sound recordings, and films

The World Factbook
The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities

Academic reference resources

BASE or Bielefeld Academic Search Engine is one of the world's most voluminous search engines especially for academic open access web resources. BASE is operated by Bielefeld University Library. The database provides more than 50 million documents from more than 2,700 sources. You can access the full texts of about 75% of the indexed documents.

Directory of Open Access Journals - DOAJ is an online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.

Google Scholar
Google Scholar provides a simple way to search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources for relevant work across the world of scholarly research.

JURN is a unique search tool which helps you to find free academic articles and books. JURN harnesses all the power of Google, but focusses your search through a hand-crafted index that has been highly curated over a period of six years. JURN provides comprehensive coverage of ejournals in the arts and humanities, the natural world and ecology. In 2014 JURN’s coverage was expanded to index selected university fulltext repositories, and also to ejournals in science, biomedical, business and law.

Estonian reference resources

Database of Estonian articles: Index Scriptorum Estoniae (ISE)
This database, the result of cooperation between12 libraries in the ELNET Consortium, contains articles, from newspapers, magazines and journals, serial publications and anthologies and collections from the 1990s on allowing the full-text to be accessed in free digital archives and Web publications.

ESTER in Estonian
ESTER in English
E-catalog ESTER gives access to public libraries' collections in Estonia.

Department of Literature in Foreign Languages Tallinn Central Library
The collection holds approximately 151 000 items, including a vast choice of textbooks and fiction in Russian, English, German, French and other languages. Just round the corner at Liivalaia 40, behind the little church opposite Olympia Hotel.

Encyclopedia about Estonia.

Estonian Institute
The Estonian Institute's tasks are spreading information about Estonian society, culture and education both at home and abroad, introducing Estonian culture to other countries and promoting cultural communication between Estonia and other countries, and supporting the teaching of Estonian language and culture-related subjects in the universities abroad.

Dictionaries, thesauri

Snappy Words
Snappy Words is a free visual dictionary and thesaurus.Enter any word or phrase into the Snappy Words search box and it will create a web of related words, phrases, and definitions. Hover your cursor over any word or phrase in the web to read its definition. Click and drag any node to explore other branches of the web. Double click on a node and it will generate new web branches.

Word Sense
Word Sense is one part dictionary and one part thesaurus. When you enter a word into Word Sense it will show you the definition(s) for the word as well as the connections to associated and similar words. You can see any of the definitions of the connected words by simply clicking on them to pop-up a definition.

Fact check websites is one of the best online resources that debunks Urban Legends and Rumors on a huge number of topics. It’s run by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson, who established this website in 1995. Since that time they have continually updated the database with new facts about, why something that is considered “scary” or “sinister” is just a legend created by the common folk. The number of topics they cover is just astounding, and they present enough evidence about every topic so that the visitors can make up their mind, whether the topic being discussed it true or just a rumor.

Hoax-Slayer is dedicated to debunking email hoaxes, thwarting Internet scammers, combating spam, and educating web users about email and Internet security issues. Hoax-Slayer allows Internet users to check the veracity of common email hoaxes and aims to counteract criminal activity by publishing information about common types of Internet scams. Hoax-Slayer also includes anti-spam tips, computer and email security information, articles about true email forwards, and much more.


Perspecs is a new app that aims to provide users with three sides to every news story. On Monday through Friday the free Android and iPhone app offers a selection of articles about current topics in the news. The topics could be breaking news or they could be topics of a more evergreen nature like national education systems.