When you have completed this section you should be able to:
Identify different types of Reference materials.
Be able to locate reference sources in the library and in online form
Understand that Reference tools provide:
Brief overviews of many subjects
Point to other sources of information
Be familiar with the Reference area of the library, and know the reference librarians are available for help.
Locating Reference Resources
The most current and popular reference resources are kept in the Reference Area of the library. We keep them there because they are used so often by so many people. This is also the reason they can not be checked out like regular books.
DICTIONARIES give definitions, spellings, and pronunciations of words.
ENCYCLOPEDIAS give comprehensive background information about various topics, and are good to use when starting research.
ALMANACS give lists of statistics and specific facts and are usually only one volume long. The World Almanac and Book of Facts, kept at the Reference Desk, contains such things as lists of Olympic Medal winners.
BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARIES give brief background information on important people, such as their birth and death dates, significant accomplishments and contributions. Often these books are called "Directories" or Who's Who.
ATLASES are books of maps. They can be maps of physical places and abstract concepts such as weather patterns, population statistics or world migration. Most Atlases are kept in the Reference Area in large bookcases.
Reference Books: Introduction
Types of Reference Resources
1. General reference resources cover all topics briefly. They present information that is very broad, well-established, and commonly-known so you will probably need more in-depth information for a college-level research paper.
2. Subject-specific (or "subject-focused") reference resources concentrate on one subject only. They usually present more extensive information than general reference resources and are therefore often a better source to get background information for a college-level research paper.
3. Online Reference Databases include the library's newest online collection; called XRefer. Here are found over one hundred reference resources in an online format; including subject specific dictionaries in several languages.
The Reference/Information Desk provides just what the name says -information!
The Reference Desk is the best place in the library to ask your questions, especially about your research and assignments.
There is always a librarian on duty here when the library is open, and her/his job is to answer
your questions and help you find the resources you need. You can always consult a librarian when you have an information need.
Help from the librarians is also available by phone.
A reference librarian will have a brief interview with you so that he or
she will understand the research need that you have.
Typical questions for you would include:
What will be the topic of your paper?
What question are you trying to answer?
Just what kinds of materials do you need? (books, articles?)
What is your assignment, and what course is it for?
Reference Book Collection
The library has a collection of books for use in the library only.
Most Reference books are used for fast consultation,
to find information or facts in a brief format.
Some of the more common types of book in
Reference are Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Atlases.