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Reference from Coast to Coast - Converters

By Christine Klobucar, Published on January 17, 2000

Welcome to Reference From Coast to Coast: Sources and Strategies, a monthly column written by the KMZ librarians. Headquartered in Chicago, Katten Muchin Zavis has reference librarians in Washington DC, Chicago and Los Angeles. There are eight professional librarians who are assisted by a great support staff. The KMZ librarians field questions and participate in research in a myriad of subject areas. This column will highlight some of our favorite reference sources and research techniques in the hope that sharing information  will help you in your day to day jobs. We welcome all of your comments and questions, and would particularly like feedback on sources and strategies that YOU use for research on our column topics. 

A patron needs to convert francs into dollars to pay a bill; an attorney needs to know what time to contact his business affiliate in Italy. Where do you go? There are various converters on the Internet but I’d like to share my three favorite.

The first one is 164 Currency Converter at www.oanda.com. You can view any exchange rates among the 164 different currencies for any day from January 1, 1990 to today. This converter is updated daily at 8:00 p.m. EST with data from the previous day. There are a few different types of converters found at this site. The Classic allows you to convert US dollars to Algerian dinars or any other currency. The Cheat Sheet for Travelers allows you to chose a destination currency and home currency. A nice list will be generated listing how much of the home currency is needed to equal one unit of the destination currency. Historical Tables can be generated by choosing starting and ending dates for two currencies that need to be compared.

You can also readily convert time zones on the Internet by going to www.timezoneconverter.com. Specify a date and time to convert past or future times. You can select from over 500 time zones covering dates between 1970 and 2037. The help with time zones link allows you to view all time zones used within a specific country. This site is updated frequently as time zone rules change.

For just about anything you can think of, the megaConverter at www.megaconverter.com can show you its equivalent. Actually there are two links on the web page, one for the original and one for the new version. I prefer to use the MegaConverter 2; it has a new, easier to use interface. The left frame looks like a remote control and consists of 2 select boxes and a dial to spin. To choose a converter from the remote control you can either use the pull-down select boxes, spin the dial and click on the image when you found the converter you want, or you can enter a converter’s unique access number into the text box and click "go". I always use the pull-down menu and scroll down the list, click on my choice and hit the "go" button. Some of the pull-downs include area, density, finance interest and kitchen measurements. There are also links to a megacalculator with many scientific functions and to megaResource, the part of the site that is more informative than mathematical. It consists of a Mega Joke Reader, an endangered animals list in the US by state and a conversion factors spreadsheet in MS Excel format where you’ll find obsolete measures. This is the site to use if you need to quickly find out `that the equivalent of roman number MMCV is 2015!