Performing local research is a unique endeavor.
- Accessability of information is dependent upon each community's commitment and ability to communicate.
- Finding local information requires a preliminary knowledge of how communities organize and govern themselves.
- Local research typically calls for a hybrid approach, combining primary methods (e.g. interview, observation) with secondary methods (e.g. websites, publications).
Look at www.coveringcommunities.org for tools to help you get to know your community.
Using This Guide
This guide connects you to local information for the CITY of Menomonie, Dunn COUNTY, and the STATE of Wisconsin through website links. It is structured to help you understand community organization and key players. Information includes:
- Libraries, Archives and Historical Societies
- Government Information
- Business Information
- Organization Information
Use the GLOSSARY to learn vocabulary related to governments, community organizations, and local research.
Use BY TOPIC to find local information organized by topic areas.
Note: Organizational principles are similar for other cities, counties and states; comparable websites could be found using an online search engine (e.g. Search Google for [your city] chamber of commerce or [your city] newspaper). Below are general guides by type of information.
Government bodies are responsible for passing laws (Legislative Branch), putting laws into action (Administrative or Executive Branch) and monitoring adherence to laws (Judicial Branch). This is the basic structure for government at any U.S. city, county, state or national level.
Find government websites for any U.S. state, county or city/village/town, or by topic, search the Directory of Official Government Websites.
Understand the unique government structure of any U.S. state by searching the Overview of Structure of Governments from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Government information is, by law, freely accessible and usable to any U.S. citizen (public domain). However, because the government is so large it can be difficult to find information. Here are a few aggregate websites that will help you find particular types of government information:
Information about local businesses can be tricky. Most information produced by the business itself (websites, brochures) is oriented toward marketing. However, the government does require businesses, particularly those publicly traded, to disclose certain types of information (e.g. financials). Third parties may be a more objective source of business information (e.g. newspaper articles, research databases).
Find your local, state, or national Chamber of Commerce. Chamber missions vary, but tend to focus on advocacy for businesses and promoting attractive communities.
Other Helpful Library Subject Guides:
Not-for-profit organizations and community associations are often strong community-shapers. If there is a community organization that deals with your topic area, they will be an invaluable source of information. Find community organizations by searching your city's website, reading local newspaper articles on your topic, or asking your public librarian.