The Mechanics’ Institute is one of my favorite resources. Despite how the name sounds, it is a private library (as opposed to public) that offers excellent access to online collections for a membership fee.
From their website: Founded in 1854, the Mechanics’ Institute is one of the oldest institutions on the West Coast of the United States. Its mission is to provide a center for intellectual and cultural advancement. Located in the financial district of San Francisco, it serves individuals and families throughout the Bay Area offering a vibrant library with full-time professional staff, expert instruction and competition in chess, and a full calendar of engaging cultural events, programs, and classes. Anyone can join the Institute for a small annual fee. Many of its activities and services for members are also open to non-members.
Since I will assume that most people seeing this blog post are not in the San Francisco area, I will only highlight their online collections. But, if you are in the area, do stop in and look at this beautiful building and all the services it has to offer!
The Mechanics’ Institute offers online access to a wide variety of databases through its subscription program. Some databases, like Ancestry, can only be accessed on-site in San Francisco. However, most of their digital holdings may be accessed remotely.
What does this mean for you? (aka, Why should you care?) You see, these types of databases are often limited to subscriptions that can be accessed by a company, university, or other educational institution. Some public libraries may have similar digital access, but the Mechanics’ Institute really has some gems that can benefit the OSINT researcher.
Business resources like Mergent Intellect and Morningstar Investment Research Center.
General research tools like Consumer Reports and Reference USA.
News articles and scholarly publications like JSTOR, Gale, and ProQuest.
If you know anything about research, you should be salivating right now. It can be very difficult to capture access to all of these resources in one place without being at a university. All of these resources have information that can compliment an OSINT investigation about a person, company, or product. Think beyond just social media for OSINT; there’s gold to be had in business and article databases.
They also give you the opportunity to download audiobooks, eBooks, and eMagazines. Look under the “Downloads” tab on the main site.
So, now, the big question. Membership. How much does this wonderful place cost? Less than you’d think. It’s an amazing value.
Students: $65 per year
Individual: $120 per year
Family: $180 per year
Above are their standard memberships, in U.S. Dollars. Understand more about what all a membership includes, here.
This is a great mission to support and it gives you access to gems of OSINT resources. Check out the Mechanics’ Institute today!