MIT's Virtual Reference Collection -- Freely-available online reference sources
Worldcat -- search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world.
Researching Boston, Cambridge & Somerville
Boston Indicators Project -- Data & reports from the greater Boston area in the areas of civic community, cultural life & the arts, economy, education, environment, health, housing, public safety, technology, and transportation.
Metro Boston Data Common -- an online mapping tool. A partnership between the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and the Boston Indicators Project, it makes available data about cities and towns in Massachusetts. Explore data, print out instant community snapshots or maps, and create your own maps.
Boston & its Neighborhoods -- research guide from Boston University Libraries
Data & Maps
MassGIS -- Geospatial data for Massachusetts includes infrastructure (roads, the T, libraries, lighthouses, etc), natural resources, parks, image data, water features, boundaries and more
National Map -- Federal data for the US including transportation, elevation, land use/land cover and some imagery.
EPA - Environmental data from the US Environmental Protection Agency
Wunderground weather station data -- find temp, pressure, wind speed and precipitation data at 10 minute intervals from weather stations all over the country (and the world).
Natural Earth -- A public domain map dataset available at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110 million scales. Find data of physical and cultural attributes. All versions of Natural Earth raster + vector map data found on this website are in the public domain.
Open Street Map -- A free editable map of the whole world, data can be downloaded. People are encourage to upload data they have collected with GPS units and other geo-tracking devices. Great way to find and download digital data of streets and trails of places that aren't frequently mapped or where maps are expensive or hard to find.
Social Explorer –- US Census information from 1790 to the present. Create maps using Census information quickly and easily. Some functionality is free. There is also a paid version at many institutions.
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection -- Over 150,000 maps that you can view online. Collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century maps of North and South America, although it also has maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania.
Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection -- Another source for maps (current, historical, global coverage), scanned by the map library at UT Austin. Most are in the public domain. You can download them and use them as you wish. (The ones that are still under copyright are pretty obviously marked.)
EJ View - Designed to provide the public with a geographic view of environmental, health, and facility relevant information along with demographics for any given community in the United States.
MarineTraffic.com -- This web site is part of an academic, open, community-based project. Free real-time information about ship movements and ports, mainly across the coast-lines of Europe and N.America. Click on an icon on the map to see a picture of the boat, its dimensions, where it's from, where it's going, and how fast. The project is currently hosted by the Department of Product and Systems Design Enginnering, University of the Aegean, Greece.
Open access to research by/for nonprofits & NGOs
IssueLab -- archives research about social issues,makes it publicly & freely available, and advocates for the use of open licenses and open access standards in the nonprofit sector. You can search by issue or geographic area.
NGO Research Guide - Duke- searches sites which were chosen based on their consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and also collated from University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, Duke University Libraries' NGO Research Guide, and the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO).
NGO Research Guide - UC Berkeley - features several tools for searching by issue area & by location/region.
Eldis -- a collection of full-text, online documents from more than 7,500 different publishers. All documents are available free of charge. Site includes topic-based research guides.
DSpace @ MIT -- Free access to theses from MIT, plus articles published by MIT faculty. The MIT faculty have expressed a commitment to open dissemination of their work through the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy.
Public health information
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Health Disparities Database from the American Public Health Association
National Library of Medicine: Health Services Research & Public Health Information Programs
Information Center: Health Resources and Services Administration
National Center for Health Statistics
PubMed -- a service of the US National Library of Medicine that includes over 19 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals.
New York Academy of Medicine Grey Literature Report (What is grey literature?)
Free or appropriately licensed images, video, etc.
International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) / Petrucci Music Library -- Major database containing over 36,000 scores, including complete works of many composers
Ubuweb -- independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts. "Acknowledged web-wide as the definitive source for Visual, Concrete + Sound Poetry."
Soundtransit -- a collaborative, online community dedicated to field recording and phonography. On this site, you can plan a sonic journey through various locations recorded around the world, or you can search the database for specific sounds by different artists from certain places. If you are a phonographer, you can also contribute your recordings for others to enjoy. The Creative Commons Attribution license encourages the sharing and reuse of all sounds on this website.
Internet Archive: Moving Image Archive -- this library contains thousands of digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts. Many of these videos are available for free download.
Sandbox - WGBH shares high-quality video clips with users. Use Sandbox clips to "make a mash-up, documentary, music video, or whatever!"
American Memory -- Provides free and open access to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience.
Aaaaarg.org -- (Requires registration) Source for rare and hard to find documents in art, music & sociology theory and criticism
Foundation Finder -- Basic information on grantmakers in the U.S. including private foundations, community foundations, grantmaking public charities, and corporate giving programs. (A free version of the Foundation Directory Online Professional, which is available in the Social Science department of Boston Public Library.)
BBC Country Profiles -- History, politics and economic background of countries and territories, and background on key institutions.
State & County QuickFacts -- US Census Bureau. Quick snapshot of states, counties and cities in the US. Includes population counts, racial breakdown, income, housing value and more.