What are Reference Books?
Reference books include encyclopedias, almanacs, handbooks, guides and style manuals. They can help you find quick factual information and are a good place to get background information.
Finding Print Reference Books
You find print reference books using the library catalog.
Enter your search terms:
- To find a specific book, enter the title in the Search For box and select "Title" as the type of search.
- To find a book on a particluar topic, like sociology, enter the topic in the search box and select "Keyword" as the type of search.
Next, choose "Reference Room" from the "Limit to" drop down box. Then select the "Submit Search" button.
From the list of results that appears, click on the book's title to see more about it. To help you find the book, note the location and the call number.
Note: If "Stored" is the location, it's in the ASRS. Click the "Request" button to get it. The book will be at the Circulation Desk on the first floor in about 10-15 minutes.
Reference books cannot be checked out (there are exceptions for Faculty and Staff), but you can copy the pages you need using the photocopy machines located throughout the Library.
Finding Online Reference Books
View a complete list of Electronic Encyclopedias in the Oviatt Library Catalog
To limit the list by subject or title:
- Click the Modify Search button.
- In the Keyword Search screen, type subject or title words in the second search box (under "encyclopedias").
- Click the Submit Search button. (Note: once you've modified the search, it will list both online and print encyclopedias. You can recognize an online encyclopedia by the [electronic resource] tag after the title.)
Frequently Used Electronic Reference Books
- Britannica Online
- Gale Virtual Reference Center -- over 100 encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference sources.
- Government Reference Sources
- Oxford Art Online (includes Grove Art)
- Oxford Music Online (includes Grove Music)
- Literature Resource Center -- provides one-search access to Contemporary Authors, Contemporary Literary Criticism Select, the Dictionary of Literary Biography, and Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature.
Supported by a donation from The SAGE Society.
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -- a dynamic encyclopedia in which each author has electronic access to update entries.
- West's Encyclopedia of American Law
- Encyclopedia of the modern Middle East & North Africa
- Encyclopedia Of American Religions
- Sage eReference –- access to over 80 online encyclopedias and handbooks primarily in the social sciences.