Literature & Language Databases
Use these resources on any Chicago Public Library computer or on non-Library computers with your Chicago Public Library card.
Contemporary Authors »
Contemporary Authors offers information about the lives and works of modern authors. In general, information is available only for writers who were active after 1960, though biographies of some earlier influential authors are also included.
The Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés »
Discover the meanings and origins of more than 4,000 clichés and common expressions.
“…for Students” Literary Criticism Collection » teen pick
Find information to better help you understand the plays, novels, poetry and short stories most read by students. For each covered work, you’ll find an author biography, plot summary, list of characters, and a discussion of work’s themes, style, and historical context in addition to an overview of critical approaches to the work and selected critical essays.
Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales »
Find overviews of the traditions of various groups, genres and subgenres, critical approaches, themes and tale types, periods, and performance and media (including film and television) as well as biographies of individuals.
Literary Reference Center » teen pick
Literary Reference Center helps users deepen their understanding of literature through a wide variety of information on authors, their works and literary topics. Use this resource to find author biographies, plot summaries, character information, critical essays, book reviews and overviews of literary topics. Search by keyword or, if unsure of the spelling of an author’s name or title, browse lists of authors and works.
Little Pim » kid friendly
Young children (ages 3 through 6) can learn Spanish, Chinese, English and other languages through these interactive, online videos.
Oxford English Dictionary »
The Oxford English Dictionary is an authoritative source for definitions of English words and phrases as they have been used over time and throughout the world. Descriptive rather than prescriptive, it aims to present the English language as it is actually used rather than how it ought to be used. Entries include pronunciations (using the International Phonetic Alphabet), etymologies, definitions and quotations from actual sources.