The reference books will give you an overview of your subject. Use the table of contents or index to find the information you are looking for. If you can't find it, try to think of alternate names or spellings and look there.
Reference material typically consists of background information and subject overviews that are found in encyclopedias and dictionaries.
Encyclopedias and dictionaries were traditionally published as large single or multi-volume tomes; today, many encyclopedias and dictionaries are published in electronic formats that can be accessed online. Some are freely available on the Internet, and some are subscription databases accessed through the Library's website.
Reference sources can be very broad in subject matter and scope, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, or very narrow in scope, such as the Dictionary of English Place Names.
Collaboratively produced encyclopedias, such as the online Wikipedia, can provide background information on a wide variety of scholarly and popular topics; however, because anyone can edit a wiki article and there is little or no editorial oversight, Wikipedia should not be considered a reputable scholarly source for university-level research.
Almost all research projects can be enhanced by first finding appropriate background material using reference resources.
Below is a list of reference sources available in the Garver Room and online to help you get started on your research.
Remember, reference sources will give you a broad overview of your topic. They won't provide all the information, but they will help you create a research roadmap of what you should do next in the research process.
After taking notes from one of the reference sources linked or listed on this page, try filling out the "Topic Development Worksheet" listed below.
Here's a list of selected specialized reference books (available in the Garver Room) you may want to consider.
Remember, reference books CANNOT be checked out or leave the library. When you are done using them, please return reference books to the cart near the entrance to the Garver Room.