Library Resource of the Month: Reference Books
Library Resource of the Month: Reference Books

April 21, 2008


In this Wikipedia world, it may be easy to overlook the excellent scholarly reference books found in the Library’s collections, but to do so would be to ignore information sources that are useful at every stage of a research project.

Reference tools – such as encyclopedias, dictionaries and handbooks – help define and focus the research topic during the planning stage, provide supporting information during the search stage, and help with formatting citations and text layout at the writing stage.

Covering every field of study, reference books can either be general in nature (broad in scope and subject) or specialized (subject specific and detailed). Reference sources offer an exploration of how a topic is considered in different contexts within a discipline and how a topic has been researched.

Reference sources provide:
- background information and topic overviews
- definitions
- facts and details
- paths to other sources of information
- quick answers to questions
- statistics

The Library’s Catalogue provides access to both online and print reference sources. Search for your topic keyword combined with the type of reference tool you would like to find, e.g. “music encyclopedia*,” “physics handbook*,” or “Canada atlas*.” (Use the * to find both the singular and plural forms of the word.)

To find only electronic or print resources, limit your results to LOCATION: UofL Reference Collection or LOCATION: UofL Electronic Resource, depending on your format preference.

The Library also subscribes to Credo Reference, a digital reference library of 240 online reference books. In addition, our e-reference page provides links to many high-quality reference tools available for free via the Internet.

In short, while Wikipedia may be one reference option, the Library provides thousands more.

For additional information, please contact your subject liaison librarian or ask at the Information & Research Assistance Desk. This column is a monthly feature by Librarian Judy Vogt. Please e-mail your story suggestions to Vogt at:

U of L Communications and Public Relations Contact:
Communications and PR Officer (403) 382-7173

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