Public Libraries Briefcase


No. 3, 1st Quarter 2003

A publication of the BRASS Business Reference in Public Libraries Committee

Public Libraries Briefcase is a quarterly column written by members of the BRASS Business Reference in Public Libraries Committee. Our latest column, written by Jennifer Mahnken, is a selected bibliography of industry information. We hope that this column will be of use to public librarians working with business materials.

Finding Industry Information

Print | Free Web Sites | Other Ideas

In public libraries, a request for industry information is common. Someone is working on a business plan or needs background information for their investment club research. Following is a list of resources as well as ideas on how to help someone looking for industry information, historical data, current trends or the outlook.


  • Standard & Poor’s Industry Surveys – Covers 36 major industries. Sub-industries included within major ones. Very thorough coverage that includes top market share holders, trends, history and projections.
  • Gale’s Encyclopedia of American Industry – This two-volume source covers most industries and provides a brief description as well as some history and trends.
  • Gale’s Encyclopedia of Emerging Industries – As the name implies, get information about new and emerging industries.
  • Dun and Bradstreet’s Industry Norms and Key Business Ratios – This source and the following two are organized by SIC code. They offer ratios and averages for a given number of companies in an industry in various areas such as inventory costs, debt, earnings, and employee costs. Get an idea about costs and expenses for any given industry.
  • RMA Annual Statement Studies
  • Troy’s Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios

Free Web Sites

Other Ideas

Associations – Don’t forget about recommending that your patron check out some of the associations affiliated with the industry! This can be a great source of information as well as a current one.

  • Gale’s Encyclopedia of Associations – A list of associations grouped by subject, accessed by key word.
  • Small Business Source Book – Not only associations but also books and trade journals about the business or industry.

Magazines and Newspapers – This is one of the first places I send a patron for current industry trends or outlook. It is the most up-to-date information and easily accessible through several online databases or free news Web sites.

  • Infotrac’s Business and Company Resource Center
  • EbscoHost’s Business Source Premier
  • Proquest’s ABI/Inform and ABI Inform Dateline
  • – Regional business news

Written by Jennifer Mahnken, Johnson County Library, Overland Park, Kansas

Disclaimer : This publication has been placed on the web for the convenience of BRASS members. Information and links will not be updated. Posted 14 January 2003.