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Journalism: Tips for Finding Community Information: Home

Your community is much more than local

Your community

  • Creates and provides goods and services to be sold to the community (companies, service providers, farmers) 
  • Manages currency flows between providers and consumers (banks, credit unions, etc.)
  • Creates organizations to manage important services (utilities, sanitation, education, healthcare, etc.)
  • Decides who will represent the community's interests in creating new laws to govern the community (elected or appointed political representatives)
  • Assesses and collects taxes to run the community
  • Provides enforcement of ordinances and laws to keep the community safe and managed (lawyers, police)

So, when you need to find community information, you must first think about who or what organization would be interested enough or have jurisdiction over collecting that information. 

The most efficient way to search for information about your community is to begin at your favorite search engine’s search box.

To get the best results:

  • Use concise search terms; with the most important term first
  • Employ search tools and operators  (like the Google site tool :site, quotations around words and phrases that must be included, etc.)
  • Filter by date, if you want recent content
  • Make sure to evaluate the results before you use them by applying journalism’s W's and 1 H (Who, What, Why, Where, When, How)
  • When possible, go directly to the source of the information (find the cited report, interview the subject of an article, locate the original image)

For more information about Google search and operators, try: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433?hl=en

Where to go to find community information

Go to the Columbia Missouri website https://www.como.gov/ to find information about:

  • Mayor
  • City Council representatives by one
  • Columbia city services
  • Parks
  • Utility and Sanitation Services
  • City police

Go to the Boone County, Missouri website  https://www.showmeboone.com/ to find information about:

  • Property records and taxes
  • Voter services and polling places
  • The Sheriff's office and county jail

Go to the State of Missouri website https://www.mo.gov to find information about:

  • Missouri State Legislature
  • Governor
  • Businesses and non-profits licensed in the state of Missouri
  • Professional licensees (physician, CPA, dentists, hair stylists, etc.)
  • Missouri Data
  • Missouri public schools

Go to CaseNet, the Missouri judicial case (not municipal) database https://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/ to find:

  • Case records including docket entries, parties, judgments and charges in public court

What kind of community information do you need to find?

Are you trying to find your city council representative?

  • The city government site: http://como.gov  is a good place to find that information

Are you interested in tax information?

Do you need to find a contact for a local business?

  • Every business and not-for profit enterprise must register with the Secretary of State http://www.sos.mo.gov

Do you want to find a physician, CPA or hairstylist in Columbia, MO?

  • The Missouri Division of Professional Registration website: https://pr.mo.gov/ provides a searchable database of professional licensees.

Are you interested in discovering how the local public school district’s reading scores compare with other districts in the state?

  • All primary and secondary schools provide data to the Missouri Department of Primary and Secondary Education (DESE) https://dese.mo.gov/

Do you want to find information about your representative to the state legislature or Congress?

Research Guide to Columbia and Boone County Information from the Government Information Librarian, Marie Concannon.