Research Tools A-Z

The following are research tools that the Library provides. To access them, you will need your 14-digit library barcode or to be in a library branch. Click on the title to go straight to the research tool, or click on "More about this research tool" to read specific information about what the research tool offers. Troubleshoot connection problems with our handy guide.
If you do not have a library card, you can request one and gain access to research tools here.

To see the research tools ordered by category, click here.

To see a PDF that you can save and print out, click here.


Available for genealogy research in the Headquarters library and at all branches. Use either Firefox or Chrome as your browser, as Ancestry is no longer supported in the Internet Explorer browser. Note: This database is not available remotely.

Biography In Context

 Search for people by name or personal facts such as birth and death year, nationality, ethnicity, occupation or gender. Browse lists such as Ancient Greeks & Romans, American Presidents, Notable Women, Nobel Prize Winners.  

Birds of North America

 BNA Online contains image and video galleries showing behaviors, habitat, nests, eggs and nestlings, and more.  Each online species account contains recordings of that bird's songs and calls, selected from the extensive collection in Cornell's Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds.

Books and Authors

Designed for book groups and individual readers to enhance the experience of the book they are reading, dig deeper into its themes and origins, or learn how the author's life and times contributed to the work. Easy-to-follow menus allow users to broaden and narrow their searches according to author, title, series, awards and other criteria. An "if you like" search connects readers to themes and genres that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Business Insights: Essentials

 Includes industry news, company profiles, brand information, rankings, investment reports, company histories, chronologies and periodicals. 

CQ Researcher

In-depth exploration of a hot issue in the news each week. Topics include social and teen issues, environment, health, education, and science and technology.

Consumer Reports

Product reviews and ratings on cars, appliances, electronics, and more. Please see a librarian to log in. Available at Headquarters and all branches. Note: This is not available remotely.

Contemporary Literary Criticism

Biographical/critical introductions, listing of principal works, and sources for further study on contemporary authors. 

EBSCOhost logo

Thousands of downloadable nonfiction eBooks. Individual titles are searchable here and through the CRRL catalog.

Click here for tips on creating your myEBSCOhost account and using the EBSCOhost web site.

Other Downloadable eBooks:  A smaller number of nonfiction downloadable eBooks are available from the primarily fiction based OverDrive, Freading, and OneClickdigital.


Content from current magazines and newspapers, pictures, maps, and TV & radio transcripts. Includes selected articles from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Roanoke Times & World News, Washington Post, Washington Times, and some Spanish-language publications. (Provided by Find It Virginia)

Britannica Online Ref. Center

 The classic encyclopedia, plus Internet Guide, Merriam Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus, video and media collection, World Atlas, Year in Review, and Timeline.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Spanish)

 En espanol, Spanish-language articles.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Kids

 Kids search or browse arts, geography, language arts, mathematics, religion, science, social studies, sports. Student Center includes How to Write a Research Paper and more.


eSequels lists the most popular series so you can discover a new author or rediscover an enjoyable series of years past.  Indexes by character, location, subject, author, and title so you can identify a series that you may recall only vaguely. Read about this database in depth in this article

Combines the best of Weiss Ratings and TheStreet Ratings to offer a single source for financial strength ratings and financial planning tools covering insurance, banks, and credit unions. Plus, build your own customized Medicare Supplement Insurance Planner.

Foundation Center

Provides comprehensive information for grant seekers on over 120,000 foundations and corporate donors.  Updated weekly.  Available at Headquarters. Note: This is not available remotely.

Free Lance-Star

Full color, page-by-page scanned images of the newspaper from late 2008 to the present.  Note: This database is not available remotely.  

Gale Virtual Reference Library (eBooks)

Specialized reference sources covering the arts, biography, business, the environment, history, popular culture, the nation and world, and science.

General OneFile

Articles from newspapers and periodicals, many with full-text and images. Includes, as well, more than 500 travel guides, including hundreds of Fodor's titles, National Public Radio programs from 1990 to the present, with searchable transcripts, and full-text of the New York Times from 1985 to the present. Updated daily. (Provided by Find It Virginia)

From the Tools tab, select Change Databases to search specialized collections such as:  World History, Child Development, Criminal Justice, Gardening, Landscape and Horticulture, Home Improvement, Nursing and Allied Health, Military and Intelligence, and Psychology.

Grants Connection

Profiles on nearly 1,000 private, corporate, and community foundations in Virginia.  Available for use in the Headquarters library and at England Run, Porter and Salem Church branches. Please ask a librarian for assistance. This database is not available remotely.

Information for individual grant seekers, primarily to fund education or to support artistic or research projects.  Available at Headquarters. Note: This is not available remotely.

Health & Wellness Resource Center

 Articles from health and fitness magazines and scholarly medical journals, medical dictionary and encyclopedias, health organization directory, health news, drug and herb finder, alternative health resources, and health assessment tools.


Assistance for learners of all ages: grades K-12, college students, and adults in English and Spanish. Live tutors [available 2:00-11:00 pm daily] provide help in most subjects, including the Writing Lab and Foreign Language Lab. Study Suite [available 24/7] provides test preparation for students and adults, plus study help with electronic flashcards and games.  Student resources include SAT, ACT and standardized state tests.  Adult resources include citizenship tests, computer literacy, and GED. Collaboration Suite [available 24/7] enables work on group projects and study with friends in a virtual classroom.

This periodical database is designed for students in junior high and middle school, with magazines, newspapers and reference books (most are full-text) for information on current events, the arts, science, popular culture, health, people, government, history, sports and more. (Provided by Find It Virginia)

Infotrac Newsstand

Search a collection of more than 1,000 newspapers, translate articles into 11 different languages, create email alerts, and customize your search options and results format.

Infotrac Student Edition

This database is designed for high school students, with access to a variety of indexed and full-text magazines, newspapers and reference books for information on current events, the arts, science, popular culture, health, people, government, history, sports, and more. (Provided by Find It Virginia)


Live coaches [available 2:00-11:00 pm daily] help users strategically target jobs best suited to their interests and qualifications, work on interview skills, and craft effective résumés and cover letters. Includes 24/7 access to a carefully-selected library of job resources.


Academic journal articles covering most disciplines, including arts, history, humanities, science, medicine, and law.

Kids InfoBits

 Highly visual, guided research tools for students in Kindergarten through Grade 5. (Provided by Find It Virginia)

A core collection of over 3 million full-text entries in subjects such as health, history, literature, languages, technoogy, and science.  Includes over 500,000 images, audio and video clips. 
Literati Public Homework Help: Live tutoring in math, reading & writing for grades 3-12, Monday – Thursday 3:00 - 9:00 pm; Saturday 9:00 am - 3:00 pm. (Provided by Find It Virginia)

Literature Resource Center

 Biographies, lists of authors' works, and critical analyses of authors from every age and literary discipline. Search by author name, title, genre, literary movement or literary themes.

Mango Languages

Mango is an online language-learning system that can help you learn languages like French, Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Greek, Italian, Russian, and more.

Mobile app available for iPhone or Android.

 Morningstar Investment Research Center

 Research, data, and analysis to help make sense of the complicated world of investing.  Includes portfolio tools and calculators to determine what your asset mix should be, how your investments are working together, a Retirement Cost Calculator, and a College Savings Calculator.

National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids gives you access to the National Geographic Kids magazine (from 2009 to present), more than 200 National Geographic Kids books, and hundreds of downloadable images. (Provided by Find It Virginia)

Natural Standard
Natural Standard was founded by healthcare providers and researchers to provide high-quality, evidence-based information about complementary and alternative therapies. Please note: You will need your 14-digit barcode or phone number to access this both in the library branch and from home. 

Business, residential, and market research data for entrepreneurs, businesses, students, job-seekers or anyone wanting access to information on tens of millions of businesses and hundreds of millions of consumers in an easy to search format.

Salem Health

Salem Health brings online access to Salem Press’ award-winning health reference works, Magill’s Medical Guide.

Sanborn Maps

 Detailed property and land-use records for Virginia, useful tools for genealogy and historical research.

Testing & Education Reference Center

Information on colleges, technical schools and executive programs. Find application forms, identify scholarships. Use test-prep ebooks. Practice GED, Civil Service, EMS, firefighter, military, real estate and many more exams.

Value Line - Expanded Library Edition

Weekly online presentation of Value Line's Investment Survey. The service includes full-page reports with analyst commentaries as well as Timeliness™, Safety™ , and Technical™ ranks on over 3,500 large, small, and mid cap size companies. Includes, as well, information and rankings on an additional 4,500 companies and three-to-five year projections of key financial measures, and concise, objective commentary on current operations and future prospects. Please note: You will need your 14-digit barcode or phone number to access this both in the library branch and from home. 

Available for legal research at all branches.  Gives access to an extensive collection of primary and secondary materials with easy, plain language searching. Includes cases, statutes, regulations, forms, trial documents and transcripts, and the Virginia Practice Series. Click here for tips on searching WestlawNext.
Note:  This database is not available remotely.

World Vital Records

A massive library with billions of Family History and Genealogy records, and millions of family trees. Access key collections: COMPLETE U.S. Federal Census images and indexes from 1790 to 1940; military records; enhanced Social Security Death Index (SSDI) records; millions of newspaper articles; unique, exclusive local and international collections.


 Search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world.


Mobile Apps

Several of our research tools have mobile apps. Find out about them here.