Free Reference Resource Roundup

Maybe your library doesn't subscribe to any databases, or maybe you'd just like to beef up your offerings to patrons who do not have library cards. Either way, here's a growing list of FREE reputable websites where you can direct your patrons or use for ready reference.

This list is not exhaustive! If you have more to add, please email me at

Legal Resources & Assistance

American Bar Association Free Legal Answers

Online pro bono program that matches low-income clients with volunteer lawyers, who agree to provide brief answers online for free. 

Check to see what online resources your state's Bar Association (or closest large city) has to connect residents with pro-bono representation.

Health & Sciences

EBSCO COVID-19 Information Portal

A team of healthcare professionals and evidence-based medical experts at EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) has launched a COVID-19 portal which aggregates real-time information updates from authoritative sources to provide information on all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BioMed Central

Publisher of dozen of open-access peer-reviewed scientific research.

Clinical Trials

A registry of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the United States and around the world.

Medline Plus

MedlinePlus is an online information service produced by the United States National Library of Medicine. The service provides curated consumer health information in English and Spanish.

Merck Manuals: Consumer Edition

Find information on medical topics, symptoms, drugs, procedures, news and more, written in everyday language. searches over 60 databases and over 2,200 scientific websites to provide users with access to more than 200 million pages of authoritative federal science information including research and development results.

Consider linking to your local health department as well.

General Reference

Directory of Open Access Journals

DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to over 5 million articles from high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.

Digital Public Library of America

An enjoyable and browsable site featuring online exhibits about a variety of topics. It’s like visiting a museum online.

Google Scholar

Search for scholarly articles online.


GovInfo provides free public access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government.

Library of Congress Digital Collection

A collection of historical documents, photographs, and more.

The National Archives

Explore US history through historical records, including documents, photographs, and military records. Also includes primary source lesson planning for educators.

Job Searching

More ideas: Your county or nearest large city may have a workforce center or something similar. Colleges and universities have excellent job finding resources on their websites you can link to, including interview prep and resume help.