Researchers looking for information in the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institute, or the National Archives have been out of luck since last week when the US government shut down amid a lapse in funding, but now Oxford University Press is hoping that it can offer them a valuable alternative. Through the end of next week, the press is offering free access to three of its online resources: Oxford Reference (which includes a collection of the press' core academic books), American National Biography Online (which includes biographical details on over 18,700 famous names from US history), and Social Explorer (which includes access to past and present census data).

Access to all three sites can be gained by using public usernames and passwords that Oxford University Press has published on its Tumblr. Of course, the offer may not be purely altruistic: the access only runs for two weeks total, at which point it once again requires a subscription — and individual subscriptions to individual sites aren't cheap. Social Explorer runs $495 each year for a single person, though others are less expensive, like the American National Biography Online, which only costs $89 annually. Most researchers would use group subscriptions obtained through their universities, however, and there's a good chance that they already have one.