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Business Center Database Guides: Reference Solutions (Reference USA)

How To Access NYPL Databases

Accessing Reference Solutions at NYPL

Reference Solutions (formerly Reference USA) is a business directory that collects information on every open, active business in the United States.  Reference USA has over 15 million records in its database and is one of the Business Center's strongest resources for finding basic information on any operating US business.

Data Axle is typically only accessible on site, in any NYPL branch or research library, but it is currently available at home with an active library card number and a PIN number. 

You can always access Reference USA at this link here :

Using Data Axle to find US Businesses

Reference Solutions (formerly Reference USA) has several modules of information, its main module is the US Businesses module which offers information on every active business in the United States : 

You are welcome to start searching for a business name from the first search screen, but we recommend clicking the "Advanced Search" tab to customize your search : 

This is the main search screen for interacting with Reference USA.  On the left hand side you choose the criteria (i.e. location, business type, business size) to search on.  In the middle, you set the parameters of that criteria.  On the right hand side, you will see two buttons to interact with your search limits : a green button to view your results and a blue button to "update" your results and see how many hits your criteria is yielding : 

One the left hand side, you will see "Business Type", this is one of the more popular limits you will choose to search for businesses.  

Reference USA has a strong Keyword search, its thesaurus can even match spoken, colloquial business terms with their formal industry classification : 

If you see a term you'd like to search on, click it and it will be added to you search criteria. If you make a mistake, simply click on an errant entry in the "Selected" field and it will disappear. 

Once you have at least one search criteria in place, you can click on "Update Count" to see how your criteria narrows your search.  Once you get a reasonable number of businesses to examine, click "View Results" to examine your search results in detail. 

With your search results, you need to "check" the box on the left hand side to export or download a record.  You can select the box next to "Company Name" to select all the results. If you want to view detailed information, click on the company link for an extended view.  When you have the companies selected to save your results, click on "Download" to export your results. You can save your results to disk, or email your results.  The Email option is found under the same "Download" button. 

To export your results, you can choose among popular spreadsheet file formats : .csv, Excel and tab delimited.  Again, you can also export your results by email. 

At present, you will be limited to exporting 25 records per search.  If you need more than 25 records, you will need to recreate your search. 

Researching Contacts

If you want to investigate a Company's personnel, follow this search.  Click on Company Name, type in the company's name then click on View Results:

From your results, if you have a Company that has a lot of franchises, offices and affiliates in its corporate tree, every footprint of a business will be listed here.  If you want to investigate the Corporate Parent or Headquarters of a business, investigate the icons on the right hand side.  The Arrow icon will give the listing of the Corporate Parent, the Tree icon will list the hierarchy of all locations and offices within that business. 

Clicking on the Tree icon, you see the Headquarters at the top of your business listings. 

Investigating the extended view of McDonald's HQ, you will see a listing of executives at McDonalds.  You can now use this information for job searches, networking and business opportunities. 

You can also search directly for executives.  You can search for an executive by their name (obviously if you know it) or you can search directly by Executive Title, such as Human Resources : 

You can also use Reference Solutions Executive search to look for a given ethnicity. 

Competitors Report

Suppose you wanted to view all of your competitors (or potential competitors) in a given market.  Let us revisit our McDonalds search, and instead of investigating McDonalds HQ, we look at an individual franchise - this one in Anchorage, Alaska : 

If we look at the extended view for this franchise of McDonalds in Anchorage, Alaska : 

At the bottom of the page exists a Competitors Report, and and convenient listing of all competitors of this McDonalds franchise in Alaska :