Things to Do in Austin If You’re a Researcher or Librarian in Town for SXSW 2016

So, you’re a researcher or librarian in town for SXSW, and after a few days of straight conference you want to see what else Austin has to offer. Here’s a special list of suggestions just for you, the gal or guy who appreciates the arts AND information. These are all centrally located, and shouldn’t require a car if you’re willing to walk a bit.  

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Dead Websites: A Researcher’s Tool

There are times when you can’t find something that you know was available online in the past. In cases like this, dead websites are an often overlooked research tool. In addition to being fun to look at, many of them contain functioning links to PDFs, images, and other files that are still relevant today.

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DIY Fact-Checking: Looking at a Presidential Candidate’s Legislative Record

Presidential candidates (some more than others) make hundreds of exaggerated, misleading, outdated, or downright false claims during the course of their campaigns. Assessing the accuracy of these claims is not always a quick endeavour. The process can involve digging around for data, contacting individuals, finding news stories, and comparing numerous reports and studies. And all that can be for just one claim. Repeating this process for several claims could get time-consuming.

Luckily, political fact-checking has grown over the last several election cycles. In fact, between 2008 and 2012, the number of fact-check news stories increased by more than 300 percent. Three of the biggest fact-checking sites are Fact Checker, Politifact and

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5 Things You Can Find in HathiTrust Digital Library

HathiTrust Digital Library seems to be everywhere these days. I first heard about it last year in a workshop, and since then I’ve seen it mentioned in several other contexts. It’s apparently useful for many different types of research, so I thought it was time to sit down and take a look at what it has. 

In a nutshell, HathiTrust (pronounced Hah-Tee Trust) is a collection of collections. It pulls together both copyright and public domain content from a partnership of libraries located mostly in North America. First launched in 2008, it has grown to include over 13 million volumes, many of which are available in full-text (materials still under copyright have a limited view). 

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Finding Free-To-Use Images

If you’ve ever had to develop social media content in your professional life, you’ve likely had to look for images that are free to use. Free-to-use images are good if you don’t have the budget to hire an in-house graphic designer or pay royalties on a copyrighted image, but still need high-quality, professional-looking images. Fortunately, the Internet is a rich trove of free images if you know where to look.  

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Non-Subscription (Free) Sources for Court Documents

Researchers of all types use court documents. Journalists use them in their reporting, government officials use them to track policy developments, and some individuals even read briefs and rulings out of general interest in an issue.

What’s the best way to find these documents? If you are employed at an organization that subscribes to legal databases, the process of finding court documents is greatly streamlined. But, for a person who doesn’t have access to subscriptions, the process can be a little more involved.

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