Research and your local library

When a lot of you artists and writers out there need to do research, the first thing you probably do is go to your desktop, laptop, or tablet and pull up a search engine – probably Google if you’re anything like me.

Indeed, the Internet is a boon to all of us as we have a universe of information instantly at our fingertips.  But there’s another source of information that you should not overlook in this day and age.  That is your local library.

I know what some of you are thinking.  “Dude, get with the times” some of you probably just said out loud or are saying in your head.  Nowadays, a lot of you think that the Internet is THE definitive and only source of information you need.  

I used to believe that myself.  Up until recently, it was very rare for me to visit a public library since I could almost instantly look anything up.  But that’s no reason to write off the library as a source of research material.

How’s that?  A large public library or a library of a college/university (if you’re a student) has magazines and trade journals that would be otherwise inaccessible via the Web or at least expensive to the general public.  These can be a goldmine of information whether you’re writing or illustrating your own work or someone else’s.

Libraries also have access to colossal databases that likewise are restricted from the general public.  One example of this is Reference USA, which is only available through certain libraries and to patrons with a valid library card.  (Check their website for more information.)  These databases have demographics that can be useful for research in your artwork, writing, or in your business planning.  I’m not even going to start on how many archives libraries keep on old magazines and newspapers – VERY handy if you need to do some historical research from earlier years or decades.

I ended up getting some VERY useful books from the Greensboro Public Library.  Besides researching for Sunnyville Stories episodes 7 and 8, I needed to read up on different kinds of architecture (especially Gothic) for my planned graphic novel Von Herling, Vampire Hunter.  While I had found various images of castles, keeps, and architecture characteristics on Google and Google Images, I needed something a bit more thorough.  Thus, these books came in handy.  These information and the photos contained within are worth their weight in gold.  And I would NEVER have found this information online with ease.

So if you need to do research, remember to check your friendly neighborhood library.  You never know what you may find there.

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About Max West

I am a freelance artist and the creator of Sunnyville Stories, an independent slice-of-life comics series.
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