Researching on the Cheap, Part 11: Where do I go for more information?

So, you have exhausted the online museums and libraries, your local library (if you have one) is a bad joke, and you have no access to a university library (if you have a local university library see if they have some sort of “friends of the library ” membership that will give you access to their information and inter-library loan). Now what… Facebook and Yahoo interest groups, and Blogs.

Just a few years ago all of my “special interest groups” were located on Yahoo, and some still are. But my most active study groups are now on Facebook. For both of these online service you must be a member, but once you are a member you can search their groups and ask to join. Generally most of the special interest groups require membership in order to post, and if you want to ask questions, you need to be able to post.

Now, I am NOT in love with Facebook. I hate the ads, and I have actively started blocking people who consistently annoy me. But to be able to go onto a group, post a question, and have people from all over the world reply, is amazing.

Are there drawbacks? Definitely. Modern Mythology abounds on some of the groups. What do I mean by that? Well, someone who believes that just because something is this way now, or that people believe something now and therefore it was true in the Middle Ages, may post really bad information. Again, just as with using the internet, you need to educate yourself and maintain a good amount of skepticism in your thought process.

Be certain that you read the descriptions of the groups carefully. One of the Yahoo groups that I am on is very academically oriented. Blatant trolling or posting of bad information will initiate a message from the moderators. If the bad behavior continues the individual in question will be removed from the list.

Often the questions that are posed on these groups are practical. Things like – I need help with a pattern for a specific type of pants – which one do you recommend? I am trying to locate a good source for this type of fabric, where should I go? I am trying to find an Italian Renaissance portrait that shows a specific type of hairstyle, do you know where I can find it? These groups are positively amazing, when it comes to answering these sorts of questions. Instead of spending hundreds of hours in a futile search, or experimenting randomly with retail sources, you can get help from other people who have already used a company.

Aside from groups, there are individuals who post some very good information on their Facebook pages. Some of these people live in countries other than the USA and will post pictures that they have taken in local museums. You can often find these people through the special interest group pages.

And then there are the blogs. Blogs can be anything that the person who writes them wants to publish. Some are awesome, and some are totally full of bad information or totally skewed philosophically. Blogs will come up in regular search engine searches. You are the only one who can decide if the writer is a real authority or a crackpot. But there are some truly excellent blogs on the web. Full of well-taken photographs and facts. Sometimes you can locate the good ones through comments on a special interest group. If you have questions about a blog post a question about it on the special interest group and see what the response is.

I hope that this blog post helps you locate even more helpful information on the internet!

English: A panorama of a research room taken a...

English: A panorama of a research room taken at the New York Public Library with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)