Part of the fun for a college student on winter break is having time to explore.  The databases available through the Syracuse University Library are manifold, and I’ve been having a great time poking through the ones that have nothing to do with my current degree. Part of the reason librarianship is such a great field is that it allows for multi-disciplinary learning and varied approaches to problem-solving. However, the downside to this is that the only way to be a good librarian is to know something about nearly everything. It’s the challenge, and the best part, of my vocation.

Information is meant to be shared! I want to highlight some resources that can grab you, and keep you clicking-through and checking out more images, more sound files, more articles—the sort of databases that can make you say, “Cool!”

Here are three fun databases to check out:

ArtStor Digital Library:

The ArtStor Digital Library “provides more than one million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences with accessible suite of software tools for teaching and research.” It’s a searchable archive of images, and collections span a sizable range of topics. The native interface takes a bit of getting used to, as with most databases, but it’s time well-spent.  This database aggregates some phenomenal collections, but also provides a host of other tools to get you started. Be sure to check out the subject guides, which can provide some search terms and collections of note in most areas of interest. I looked at the ‘Maps & Geography’ and ‘History of Medicine & Natural Science’ guides—from Renaissance navigational charts to anatomical illustrations from the dawn of modern medicine, I found some cool stuff!

Smithsonian Global Sound:

My undergraduate background is in music, among other things, so I was incredibly excited to stumble upon this database while working on a project this year. Smithsonian Global Sound hosts recordings of music from around the world, including,

“music owned by the non-profit Smithsonian Folkways Recordings label and the archival audio collections of the legendary Folkways Records, Cook, Dyer-Bennet, Fast Folk, Monitor, Paredon and other labels. It also includes music recorded around the African continent by Dr. Hugh Tracey for the International Library of African Music (ILAM) at Rhodes University as well as material collected by recordists on the South Asian subcontinent from the Archive Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (ARCE), sponsored by the American Institute for Indian Studies.”

What this means for us is a searchable archive of world music, available to us whenever we please. It’s great for musicians trying to tackle music from a new culture, or for listeners who want something a little different. There are a number of recordings that sound like they’re straight out of the songcatchers’ equipment—check it out!

National Agricultural Library:

The National Agricultural Library, an arm of the US Department of Agriculture, maintains a number of special collections on their website that are worth checking out. Their “spotlights” show off some of the resources that the government can bring to bear, and I found myself reading articles and other content about things I didn’t think I’d find interesting (Entomologist C. V. Riley & Integrated Pest Management, for example). AGRICOLA, the online catalog for the NAL, is also worth checking out, and has been recommended to me by a number of people as a good resource for those interested in nutrition & food science, and agricultural studies. Also of note are the image galleries—enjoy!

What are your favorite resources, and how did you find them? Let us know in the comments!

Contact Topher at or on Twitter @HieAnon.