Doing Research at the Library of Congress
VIII. Talking to People
Often a telephone call, an email, or a letter will provide important information
that cannot be found even in the largest of libraries. The Library,
however, can provide the resources that enable you to identify knowledgeable
people in any subject area, and their phone numbers or other contact
information. For example, when human-rights activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize he was not well known outside Argentina,
and articles about him had not yet appeared in conventional indexes to
newspapers and journals. A reporter assigned to write a story on him thus
could not find articles already in print. The librarian working with him,
however, at that point asked the basic questions for pursuing research outside
the Library: Whose business is it to know this information? Whose interest
it to know? These questions led to a phone call to Amnesty International, a
human-rights monitoring group; Amnesty turned out to have a whole file
on Pérez Esquivel. When asked if they could supply additional leads, the
Amnesty contact suggested phoning another human-rights organization,
the Washington Office on Latin America; it, too, had a whole file of information
about the new Nobel laureate.
When looking for knowledgeable people to contact, a few sources are
- The Encyclopedia of Associations
- Washington Information Directory
- Web of Science
The first is a comprehensive directory of nonprofit organizations; and there
is usually some organization for anything. The second is a large directory
of government, nonprofit, academic, and other information sources in the
Washington, DC, area. The third source is a very large index of scholarly
journal articles; what makes it useful in this connection is that it provides
the institutional addresses of the authors of the articles. It is a good way to
locate academics who are currently writing in any field of interest.
Thousands of other directory sources exist, both online and in print.
Reference librarians can help you to identify them.