SLA 2011: Mining Public Records

The SLA Division of Government Information was the lead division for the Wednesday, June 15, 2011 program: Mining Public Records. This session was co-hosted by the News Division. The speakers were Jennifer McMahan and Bridget Gilhool of the Justice Department Library.

SLA 2011 - Jennifer McMahan and Bridget Gilhool

This was one of those programs that made you glad you stayed for the last program slot of the conference because it turns out to be one of the best you attended.

It would be impossible for me to share everything I learned in this packed session in a short blog post but here are a few takeaways from the program:

  • Tips to getting started when doing public record research:
    • Start with summary reports when possible.
    • Try more specific databases and state-wide public records searches.
  • This is the kind of information is it possible to find in summary reports:
    • Aliases
    • Bankruptcies
    • Birth and/or death record
    • Business and personal associates
    • Criminal filings
    • Current and historical addresses
    • Fictitious businesses
    • Judgments/liens
    • Neighbors
    • Professional licenses
    • Real property
    • UCC filings
    • Vehicle registrations
  • Is everything you find in an online public record search going to be correct? Doing a public records search on yourself can give you the right attitude towards looking at other people’s records.

Here are the slides from the presentation: Mining Public Records and the search guide that was shared throughout the presentation: Records Online: How to Find Everything There Is to Know About Mr. X/Ms. X. This guide is going to be published shortly in the 2011 Best Practices for Government Libraries.

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