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1.  Where can I find reliable general information online?

You cannot trust everything you read on the Internet. Some websites that claim to be reliable sources are filled with errors or biased information. Websites are also not permanent and are always subject to change. The most reliable online sources are electronic versions of print texts, such as The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition. which is currently available through Bartleby.com.

You may also use the Free Library's electronic resources or visit the library to answer general information questions.

2.  Where can I find out what a word means online?

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition is available online at http://www.bartleby.com/61/ .

You may also call the Free Library at 215-686-5322 to have a librarian help you.

3.  How can I tell if I'm spelling a word correctly?

Dictionaries are often not useful when trying the find the correct spelling of a word since you need to have some idea of the spelling in order to look the word up. Google (www.google.com ) can be used to test the spelling of a word. When you type a word into Google's search engine it will correct you if it suspects that you spelled the word incorrectly. If Google detects an uncommon sequence of letters it will offer a similar but more commonly found sequence which is often the correct spelling of the word. Look for the "did you mean??" link that precedes the search results.

You may also call the Free Library at 215-686-5322 to have a librarian help you.

4.  How do I search the Internet?

Search engine websites allow you to search the Internet. To use them, type in a word or phrase that describes the information you need and press enter. Remember that the websites you find may have been created by anyone and do not necessarily contain trustworthy information. Contact the Free Library if you need more help searching.

Some of the most powerful online search engines are Google (www.google.com ), Yahoo! Search (www.yahoo.com ), and Ask Jeeves (www.askjeeves.com ).

5.  Where can I look if your library does not have a book that I need?

If you are having trouble finding a book in our catalog, you may call the Free Library at 215-686-5322 for assistance.

If you are sure that our library does not have a particular book, you may get in touch with our Interlibrary Loan Department (http://www.freelibrary.org/ill/ ) by calling 215-686-5360 or following the link. They will attempt to borrow the book from another library for you.

If you need the book immediately you may purchase it from an online bookstore. Three recommended stores for locating hard-to-find books are Addall.com (www.addall.com ), AbeBooks.com (www.abebooks.com ), and Amazon.com (www.amazon.com ).

6.  Where can I find out about Philadelphia weather and traffic online?

To find the Philadelphia weather forecast for the upcoming week visit Weather.com (www.weather.com ). Once there simply type in your zip code and press enter.

To find out about construction and accidents on Philadelphia roads visit Yahoo! Maps (maps.yahoo.com ), type in "Philadelphia, PA," press enter, and then click on the "view traffic" link on the right hand side of the screen. Click on the icons on the map to learn about the current delays.

7.  How can I get in touch with Philadelphia government offices online?

Visit the City Departments page on the City of Philadelphia website (http://www.phila.gov/deptaz/index.html ). Select the office you are trying to reach from the list to find its homepage and contact information.

8.  Where can I find a person's or business's phone number or address online?

The Yellow Pages are available online at Switchboard.com (www.switchboard.com ). Simply choose "Find A Business" or "Find A Person," type in a name and address, click on search, and any matching listings will be retrieved. Switchboard.com can also be used to determine zip codes and area codes.

9.  Where can I find directions to a particular location online?

A number of websites provide street maps of the Philadelphia region, the country, and the world. Mapquest (www.mapquest.com ) and Google Maps (maps.google.com ) are both reliable atlases that allow you to search for a particular address or get driving directions from one address to another.

10.  Are there books on the Internet that I can read for free?

Many classic works of literature that are no longer protected by copyright are available to read online free-of-charge. Any book that was published before 1924 and whose author(s) has been dead for seventy years is considered public domain. Project Gutenberg ( www.gutenberg.org ) has a collection of 17,000 full-text books available free-of-charge. Bartleby.com ( www.bartleby.com ) makes available fiction, nonfiction, and reference books online at no cost. The reference books include encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, books of quotations, and books on English usage.

The Free Library also provides cardholders with an e-book collection that can be accessed at home with a library card and PIN numbers. The collection includes classic fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, reference books, and audio books. From the Free Library’s homepage click on “Advanced Search.” The e-book collections are listed on the left side of the screen.