Transportation research can be especially challenging. The nation’s network of transportation libraries and librarians is quite small compared to those available to the medical and agricultural industries, even though the impact of transportation on the economy is much larger than either one of them. While medicine and agriculture benefit from large well-funded national libraries, transportation has to rely on its independent network of information professionals, and a small and relatively new National Transportation Library that contains digital documents only.
We are the only transportation library available in Southern California, and have played an important role in transportation research locally, nationally, and internationally as far back as 1890. We have been open to the public and participated in OCLC (the world’s largest library cooperative) since 1971. Approximately 40% of the collection is unique; not held or cataloged by any other library. We provide interlibrary loans to other libraries, university research centers and government agencies via our cataloged collection that is part of a shared global bibliographic utility. We are also a selected participant in TLCat, the National Transportation Library’s union catalog of more than 40 transportation research libraries.
For current awareness, there are several daily transportation headlines news aggregators online, including the Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library's own Los Angeles Transportation News Headlines, the San Francisco Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s News Headlines, the daily Transportation Communications Newsletter, and the Transportation Research Board’s weekly newsletter.
Outlined below is a suggested approach for transportation research:
1. Articles published in journals, reports, conference proceedings, and digitized reports: Search the National Transportation Library and Transportation Research Board’s integrated Transportation Research Information Service (TRIS), a bibliographic database for abstracts of articles published in journals, conference proceedings, reports, and serial publications. Take note of the titles found and vocabulary terms used. Search Metro's Library catalog for journal holdings and for specific volumes/dates needed. Of the 700,000 records in TRIS, about 50,000 have links to full text items available online, some free and some for purchase.
2. Books, reports, studies, dissertations and journal titles in our library: Search the Metro library catalog (about 40,000 items). Take note of any additional keyword vocabulary contained in the library records. Some records contain links to on-line full text publications. After locating books, reports, studies, dissertations and journals, look for and take note of the bibliographies or sources used in those items for additional research material. A significant portion of the research collection is contained on microfiche. These reports can be distinguished by Call Numbers beginning with the letters PB. See National Technical Information Service below. Depending on the subject, a search of the Metro’s Board Action Archive (about 18,000 items) and Board Policy Book (70+ major policies) may also yield important information on public policy decisions.
3. Books, reports, studies, dissertations and journal titles held by other transportation libraries: Search TLCat, a union catalog of 40 transportation library collections (over 1 million items). Our transportation library collection is included in the TLCat database. We can request materials in other libraries via interlibrary loan or considered them for purchase. For an even broader search, look at OCLC's WorldCat database which provides access to the collections of public, academic, and specialized libraries around the world.
4. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board (TRB): Search the Transportation Research Board’s publications online section for free reports. The series most applicable to Metro is the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP). After locating reports of interest, look for the bibliography of source material to find additional related resources. Also available via the intranet only is access to TRB’s Transportation Research Record (TRR) series of peer reviewed technical reports (about 7,000 items).
5. Research In Progress (research that may not yet be published): Search TRB’s Research In Progress database for research announcements, scope, and contact information for researchers. This resource provides access to research projects not yet published. It is a great resource for finding out who is currently in the process of performing research and/or projects that are not yet funded.
6. Other full text reports: Search the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) online catalog. The catalog lists reports published since 1990, but they have reports dating back many years earlier. If you need anything prior to 1990, just call the Customer Service Center. They digitize reports as requests for older materials are made. We have subscribed to NTIS transportation reports on microfiche (to save shelf space) since 1976; about 20,000 reports in our collection. Additional full-text reports from NTIS are available in the library.
7. Transportation Data: Search the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Their mission is data collection, analysis, and reporting as well as ensuring the most cost-effective use of transportation-monitoring resources.
8. Transportation studies, theses, dissertations, academic research: Search the University Transportation Centers' websites. Some notable institutions providing access to their collections there include the University of South Florida’s Urban Transportation Research Center, the Texas Transportation Institute, the Mineta Transportation Institute, the U.C. Berkeley Harmer E. Davis Transportation Library and the Northwestern University Transportation Library. Locally, both UCLA (Institute of Transportation Studies) and USC/CSULB (Metrans) are participants in the Federal University Transportation Research Centers program.
9. Guidelines, policies, standards, conference presentations: Search the websites of professional industry associations such as the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the American Planning Association, and others.
10. Government outreach, contacts and study documents: Search the websites of government agencies and their offices for specific subjects (such as safety and security) such as the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Air Quality Management District, the Southern California Association of Governments and the planning offices of various Cities and Counties. We maintain a list of the General Plans adopted by Los Angeles County and Incorporated cities.
11. Policy studies, interpretation of government data: Search the websites of related non-profit research and think tank organizations such as Wiengart Center/United Way, Brookings Institute, RAND Corporation, and Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC).
12. Foreign resources for transportation information: The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), Australia/New Zealand Transport Libraries, and the United Kingdom all publish transportation research through their universities, professional associations and government agencies. Many other European countries publish transportation in English. Other sources for international transportation research in a variety of languages include the International Transport Research Documentation (ITRD) bibliographic database, the Association for European Transport, and the International Transport Sources database.
A systematic review of the above resources should yield a large percentage of the research currently available. Keep in mind that the Internet has only been widely available since 1996. Few government agencies, associations or other institutions have digitized pre-1996 documents unless they are part of a rare or historical collection. Relying on an Internet search engine alone will provide a skewed scope of the actual material available on any given subject.
Custom Google search engines have been created by transportation librarians have created their own tools to assist with narrowing down online searches, such as the National Transportation Library's custom Google search engines list.
Our Web 2.0 tools:
Please contact the library for further research assistance.
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