Unconventional Resources: Four Research Options

Written By: Guest Blogger Sophia Guevara, MLIS, MPA.


The question was how to save them!  Cast iron mini servers rendered nearly unusable by rust needed rescuing!  Not being a typical research request, I decided to look beyond books and articles to help resolve the problem.

Turning to a burgeoning new avenue of help, YouTube, I found videos that described how to re-season rusted cast iron pans.  Aha, that sounded familiar!  I determined that the same technique could work on the mini servers.  The results were positive!

The mini servers were ultimately put back into circulation, saving the kitchen money.  The best part was applying research from unconventional sources to an interesting problem.

In today’s digital age, using unconventional resources for research is becoming popular. Here are four unconventional resources to consider when researching:



When I first attempted to find a solution for the kitchen’s problem, I figured that this solution wouldn’t necessarily come from the conventional solutions that librarians often use.  With that said I turned to YouTube.  While many information professionals rely on journals, magazines, databases and books to get to the solution, don’t neglect the expertise and opinions shared by YouTube content creators. Watching how-to-videos on YouTube is fast becoming the most popular way of learning how to do things and can be a key resource for information professionals.

Visit YouTube for your research needs here.



With so many users developing, sharing and reading content using Twitter, why not consider doing a search to see if any tweets contain information or links that you could use?  While you many not find a specific or perfect solution conducting a search here, the knowledge you find might point you in the right direction to further research your solution.

Visit Twitter for your research needs here.


Librarian Bat Signal (Facebook)

Consider this option when you need a leg up on reference assistance.  I was surprised something like this existed and put a post on it awhile back about another problem.

Visit the Librarian Bat Signal for your research needs.


Discussion Lists

Having difficulty figuring out what the next step is?  Ask another information professional to see if they can offer a second opinion on the research problem.  Discussion lists are often available to those with membership in professional associations or for those who share common interests.


Whether you have a regular research request or a unique problem, unconventional resources can help. Don’t be afraid to “think outside the book” when it comes to your next research project.