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GEG 242: Research Methods in Geography: Wider Research

Finding Information Beyond the Library

You may need information from sources beyond the "traditional" library resources such as scholarly articles and books. Librarians are happy to help you brainstorm what type of information you need, who might collect or disseminate it, and how you might access it.

Photo of Chicago EL

"Milwaukee Elevated Tracks (just before completion)" by Chicago Transit Authority is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Newspapers (Online)

Where to Look?

Ask yourself these questions to figure out where to look for the information you need:

  • Whose voices are most likely to be discussing the issue? Elected officials? Community leaders? Local nonprofit groups?
  • How would information on the issue likely be communicated or shared? Local newspapers? City council meetings? Organization newsletters?
  • What are the best ways to access information about the issue? Does the local newspaper have a website and/or are articles available through the library? Are city council minutes available on the web? Are data about the issue available on federal, state, or local websites? Are there individuals to whom you can reach out for more information about the issue and to see if they have any additional ideas of people or sources you can consult?
  • Do the sources you've already found (such as scholarly or news articles) mention any additional sources that you might pursue? For instance, do they mention specific local government offices or committees, local nonprofit leaders, or library digital collections?

Tip: Visit the Data Portals & Geospatial Data tab on this guide to browse some of the information that's available.


  • One issue you may encounter is accessing local data. It might exist but you might not be able to locate it. Not all local information will be posted online. In this case, you may need to contact relevant individuals or organizations to see if they can help (for instance, the president of a community group, or the president of the city council).
  • If you're searching a local newspaper, you might hit a paywall. Never pay for an article! For larger cities, the paper might be in Access World News or ProQuest US Newsstream If you need help placing an Interlibrary Loan request, just as a librarian.
  • You might not be able to find local information, such as statistics or demographic information, that matches what you're looking for exactly. Maybe you can find data for your county but not your town, for example. In some cases, you might need to piece together several pieces of information as evidence.
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