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Libraries at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Subject Research Guides: General

What is a Library Guide?

Rensselaer Library Guides are online resources that include curated information on a variety of topics. Library Guides are updated as new resources (e.g. databases, library materials, tools) become available through the Rensselaer Libraries.

Information Literacy

See the InfoLit Guide for training and tips to help you develop your skills in gathering, evaluating, and using information.

ScienceDirect [Elsevier]

Getting Started - resources for any discipline

News Sources

Streaming Video

Theses and Dissertations


What Is a Patent?

Grant of property right to inventor, issued by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Depending on type of patent, term of new patent is from 14 to 20 years from filing date.
U.S. patent grants are effective only within U.S. and its territories and possessions.

Type of Patent

  • Utility - Granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new, useful, and "non-obvious" process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful Granted for 20 years from date of filing. 
  • Design - Granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Granted for 14 years from date patent was granted.
  • Plant - Granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of  plant. Granted for 20 years from date of filing.

Patent Searching

USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Search for Patents

Seven Step USPTO Patent Search

Google Patents

Espacenet (European Patent Office)

WIPO (Worldwide Intellectual Property)


The Libraries offer access to other online encyclopedias. To identify these titles, search the catalog for the keyword "encyclopedia," and then use the Modify Search button to limit to Material Type "EBooks".

Government information

Federal The U.S. Government's Official Web Portal. - As the U.S. government's official web portal, makes it easy for the public to get U.S. government information and services on the web.

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. - Finding tool for electronic and print publications from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Provides direct links to those publications  that are available online.

govinfo - Provides free public access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government.  - Find and apply for competitive grant opportunities from all Federal grant-making agencies


New York State

New York State Official Homepage.

New York State Government Information - Single point of access to New York State agencies, publications and laws.

New York Municipal

Albany, NY · Albany County

Troy, NY · Rensselaer County

Saratoga Springs, NY · Saratoga County

Schenectady · Schenectady County

New York City

State and Local Government on the Net - Each state's listing includes links to regions, counties, cities, towns, villages with that state.

Other States

State and Local Government on the Net

Statistical Abstract of the U.S. (ProQuest) 


Information about Maps

U.S. Geological Survey. National Mapping Information provides information on maps, maps symbols and mapping programs.  

USGS National Geologic Map Database : A searchable catalog of paper and digital maps, geologic names, and new mapping projects. Included is "information about maps and related data for: geology, hazards, earth resources, geophysics, geochemistry, geochronology, paleontology, and marine geology." for the United States.

Glossary of Cartographic Terms : from Maps for America. Third Edition.

Map Projections : Map Projection Overview developed by Peter H. Dana, Department of Geography, University of Texas at Austin, 1995.

Map Collections

Library of Congress maps : most content is from 1800 to 2000, entire collection of over 400,000 is searchable, over 35,000 are available to download.

Open Access Maps at NYPL : high-resolution maps from the 16th to 20th centuries; includes New York, New Jersey, the Mid-Atlantic states, and also some from Europe. Create a free account to use the downloader. The maps are all available under a Creative Commons CC0 license.

Electronic Map Collection : Perry-Castañeda Map Library at U. Texas Austin

Geographic Information Systems

GIS (geographic information system): Information about GIS from the National Geographic.

New York Maps

New York State Map Pathfinder : "A collection of links to digital images of maps of New York State. It includes both individual maps and links to sites having multiple images."

New York City Transit Maps : "Maps of the Subway system, Manhattan buses, and Staten Island Railway."

New York State Historical Maps : "Twenty New York historical maps, listed in chronological order from 1556 to 1895, illustrate early New York."

Boro of Manhattan: Sanborn Maps - can be found under the Architecture subject tab.

National Maps

MapQuest : Street maps and driving directions for the U.S. General coverage for the rest of the world.

U.S. Census Bureau. Reference and Thematic Maps. Reference Maps include a variety of map types that show the boundaries and names of geographic areas for which the Census Bureau tabulates statistical data. Thematic maps are data maps of a specific subject or for a specific purpose.

Surf Your Watershed : "Interactive mapping tools to locate watersheds down to the zip-code level. Includes Watershed Atlas, a catalog of geo-spatial displays and analyses of information and data important for watershed protection and restoration."

Color Landform Atlas of the United States : "Each state link brings up a menu of links to maps and other online information about the state. There are two main types of links on each state page: maps and images local to this site, and links to external Web sites."

Map Collections: 1500-1999 : This searchable American Memory collection includes maps from the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division. Organized by topic, including Cities and Towns; Conservation and Environment; Discovery and Exploration; Cultural Landscapes; Military Battles and Campaigns; and Transportation and Communication.

TerraFly : An interactive "fly-over" application designed to aid in the dissemination and visualization of geospatial data via the Internet. "Virtually 'FLY' over the entire United States."

School District Demographics System : Access to school district geographic and demographic data from the United States censuses.

Foreign, International and World Maps

National Atlas of Canada Online : "Searchable, online atlas. Maps are arranged into themes and issues with each map providing descriptive information. Themes include physical, human, economic, historical, and general."

ViaMichelin : Driving directions, route planner, and maps for over forty European countries; hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions for twenty-five countries; and more from Michelin, publisher of maps and the Red and Green guides.

Embassy WorldWide : Links to worldwide directories providing embassy locations, consulate locations, dialing codes, telephone directories, visa requirements, voltage requirements, and telephone rates. Searchable.

Map Machine : "National Geographic Society's interactive maps of the world, searchable by place name and also offered by theme: physical, political and cultural, climate and weather, historical, Mars, and ecosystems."

United Nations Cartographic Section : "Over 100 general maps of the world available as PDF files (Adobe Acrobat Reader required). Browse by either region or country. Also available are maps of deployment of UN peacekeeping operations. There are also a couple of thematic maps; geographic resources that include member names, capitals, and country codes; and related links."

Historical Maps

Historic USGS Maps of New England & New York : collection hosted by the University of New Hampshire Library.

A Set of Plans and Forts in America, 1765 : Reproduction of "A set of plans and forts in America: reduced from actual surveys, 1765." Some of the towns and fortifications depicted are Albany, New York, Montreal, Quebec, Ticonderoga, Fort George, and Halifax. From the collection of The Massachusetts Historical Society.

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection : "Contains to date over 6,400 maps online and focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North and South America cartographic history materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia and Africa are also represented."

Euratlas : "A periodical historical atlas, with a map of the states and political divisions of Europe for the first year of every century from AD 1 to AD 1700."

Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century : "Maps illustrating what was going on in the world at specific times in the twentieth century in cities, government, war, religion, international relations, living conditions, and economics."

Maps of the French and Indian War : Fourteen historic maps, with accompanying facts about the pivotal battles of the French and Indian War. From the collection of The Massachusetts Historical Society. Includes Albany, Schenectady, and Saratoga.