The Untapped Value of Your Local Library

It is no secret that out of the Three Geeks, I'm viewed as the cheap one ("thrify" my wife calls me.)   It isn't that I don't mind spending money, it is just that I hate wasting money.  And, if I find a nice way to save a few bucks here and there, I'd like to share that savings along with you.
If you do research (legal or otherwise), you know that there are resources out there that are directed toward helping you do your research.  Products like Westlaw, Bloomberg, Medline, etc. are premium research tools that allow you to basically do some one-stop shopping within your expertise, and are excellent tools to have.  However, premium also comes at a price, and in these times, cost savings aren't just for the "thrifty."
There are many times where I use the local public library resources, without even entering into the library building itself.  I'm pretty lucky that I work one block away from the main Houston Public Library, and can physically be in the public library within 5 minutes (my desk to library door.)  But, within a few seconds, I can access hundreds (if not thousands) of online library resources simply by using my library card.
With access to my public library in Houston, I can take a look at academic, business, cultural, and a long list of other databases from the likes of top-notch vendors like Hoover's, Lexis, Gale, Morningstar, ReferenceUSA and many, many others.  To see a list of the different databases, you can view the "ALL the Library's Research Links" page.  In addition to research databases, there are also valuable resources like magazine archives, newspapers (including my favorite of the Houston Chronicle in full Digital Image format), and even a language program like Rosetta Stone.  
You don't even have necessarily live in a highly populated city to get access to these resources.  A lot of these are negotiated on a state-wide contract so that regardless of the size of your public library, you can still get access to excellent online resources for free.
If you find that your local library doesn't offer these, you can contact some of the larger libraries to see if they offer "Out-of-State" registrations.  Most will, and from what I have found, at a price of around $40 or so.
Go check out your local library's website to see what they offer. 

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