Monday, June 15, 2009

The Wonders of the Internet....

Living where I live, a long way from any large university (apologies to SOU) or a really really great used bookstore (apologies to all the fine local used bookstores) I rely heavily on the Internet for research materials. Over the years this has gotten much easier to do, as more and more public entities at both the Federal and local levels put maps, assessor information, historic photographs and now even the entire texts of early reference material on the web. Google Scholar, if you have not yet discovered it, is like having the Bancroft Library at Cal Berkeley in your office. Really. OSU has digitized much of its fine photo collection and along with the Salem Public Library and the National Archives (which generously posts most its huge HABS photo collection) it is really incredible what you can find sitting barefoot at your office desk. Given the funding issues that are now impacting historical societies all over Oregon (something I really ought to write about in more detail), finding these always-open sources on the web is extremely helpful.

And that doesn't even start to touch the wonders of eBay and Bookfinder. Historic postcard images, so evocative of their period, are of great research value. Over the years I've found that if you are willing to search (and willing to pay) there are few books on Oregon's history (or on bridges, or dams, or roads, or neon signs, or early millwork, or....) that you can't find in some used bookstore that has kindly posted its entire catalog on a web search engine. I am now to the point and a new book almost assures that an existing book goes to the used book store, or more likely to storage. I wish my office was larger! (or at least that its WALLS were).

No comments:

Post a Comment