Ask a Librarian

For help with research projects, searching the collections, interlibrary loan, genealogy, or using equipment, library apps or other online tools,

  • visit the Reference Desk on the upper level of the library,
  • e-mail the Reference Staff and someone will respond as soon as possible,
  • call the Reference Desk during normal Library hours at 906-226-4311
  • attend a Reference Department Program.
Research tools you can access online:

Search the collection:  PWPL Online Catalog

Mel (Michigan eLibray):  What’s the best kept secret in online research? How does one sort through the overabundance of information available online to get answers you can trust?  Mel Gateways at

Librarians have sifted through and selected reliable websites and purchased subscription databases that provide fulltext access to the print materials.  Over 30 subscription research databases are available through the portal on your home computer within Michigan.  Topics cover health, academic subjects, car maintenance, general education, business, pleasure reading and more.  Access to these databases is paid for by the State of Michigan.

PWPL Online Tools:  The following online tools are funded by the Peter White Public Library:

Ancestry Library Edition:  Approximately 4,000 databases including key collections such as U.S. Federal Census images and indexes from 1790 to 1930; the Map Center containing more than 1,000 historical maps; American Genealogical Biographical Index (over 200 volumes); Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage (over 150 volumes); The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1630; Social Security Death Index (updated monthly); WWI Draft Registration Cards; Federal Slave Narratives, and a strong Civil War collection.  Only available in library building.

Basic ESL:  Basic ESL improves an individual’s listening, speaking, reading and writing skills through a simple to follow, and instructionally proven curriculum. Students learn English quickly and effectively on relevant topics including: family, home, school and many other topics. In each lesson students learn key vocabulary and how to use that vocabulary in conversation. No computer experience is necessary.

Mango Languages: Learn new languages (over sixty available) and connect with new cultures.  Can be accessed anywhere online by PWPL patrons with a library card.

Magill’s Literary Annuals:  Resource for students of literature and readers interested in learning more about a particular work or author.  Can be accessed anywhere online by PWPL patrons with a library card.

Michigan Legal Help:  The Michigan Legal Help website was created to help people who have to handle simple civil legal problems without a lawyer. There are articles you can read to learn about a specific area of the law and toolkits to help you prepare to represent yourself in court.

Novelist:  Great tool for selecting reading material.  Learn more about favorite authors and learn about more authors similar to your favorites.

Sanborn Maps: provides digital access to 1793 large-scale maps of 339 Michigan towns and cities, including Lansing, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Traverse City and nine maps of the City of Marquette as it grew between 1884 and 1946.  Can be accessed anywhere online by PWPL patrons with a library card.

Foundation Directory Professional:  multiple filters and an assessment tool help non-profits identify their best potential funding sources.  Only available in library building.

Foundation Grants to Individuals Online:  a source for finding foundations willing to fund individual artists, inventors, scholars, and other individual grant-seekers.  Only available in library building.

RBdigital:  Download popular magazines with your PWPL library card (formerly Zinio).

Overdrive:  Check-out and download audio books and e-books with your PWPL library card.

More useful websites:  check out the Mel Gateways for resources hand-picked by library professionals from the Library of Michigan.


Research Stations and Other Equipment

free wifi

adaptive technology

Micro-film readers

Public internet access computers

Designated stations for the Foundations center,  Legal Help, database searching




Reference Department Programs

Genealogy lock-ins: held in April and October, cover special topics and a fun opportunity to work side by side with other genealogy enthusiasts.

One-on-one computer lessons:  sessions are available several times a week.  Call 906/226-4312 to schedule a mutually suitable hour to work at your own pace with a member of the reference staff.

Computer Coaching:  Held Monday afternoons at 3:00 in the Computer Lab. Check the events calendar for upcoming topics or contact the reference desk, 226-4312, if you have questions.