If you're old enough to remember card catalogs at the library, congratulations. You're an old person, just like me. They were cool. You could flip though, looking for a single book, for example, and find a dozen more through serendipity.
Research today is so much more fun. Take yesterday as an example. I was fact checking a virus for a story. I wanted to be sure I understood how Hantavirus was transmitted. I knew it was called Navajo Flu. Whaa? What's this about Korea? It was named for a river in South Korea. I had no idea, but hey, I love Korean food, especially kimchi, the hotter the better.
Back to the Hantavirus post. Genome? blah-di-blah. Couldn't understand anything. There it was, method of transmission. Inhaled rodent feces and urine. Ya right, like I'm going to have my characters crawl around on the ground sniffing mouse droppings like powdered cocaine.
Hantavirus is carried by rodents and shrews. Shrews? You mean my mother-in-law could be a carrier. Apart from being a terrible cook, here's another reason not to visit.
Rethink Hantavirus. What's equally scary? I need something to strike fear in my protagonist's heart. What's that? Yersinia pestis? It's a Gram-negative, rod-shaped coccobacillus, a facultative anaerobic organism that can infect humans via the oriental rat flea. All I understood in that sentence was oriental rat flea. I live in Virginia. I don't think oriental rat fleas are prevalent. I read further. Plague??? What the hell! It's plague. Bubonic plague plus a couple of others. That I could work with. But, wait. That requires a nearly total rewrite of the story. Not going to happen.
Dump that. No plague. Back to Hantavirus. Found in the Southwest. Love Navajo jewelry. Went to research squash blossom necklaces. Whaa? They were influenced by Spanish pants buttons. Really. Also by buttons worn by Mexican caballeros. So, Pancho Villa? We don't need no stinking buttons, or something like that.
By now I'm so far from where I started that I'm not sure what the original question was. I was having too much fun learning all about new things. I looked at the clock. Where the heck had an hour gone? A whole hour wasted running down rabbit holes instead of stopping with snorting mouse poop.Oh well, I checked the fact. It's solid.
And now I need to figure out what kinds of poisonous snakes are in North America. See you later.