Using Reference Materials




Reference materials are useful tools at various stages of the research project; for the beginner reference materials can help locate additional literature or provide a quick definition or a short biography; for the advanced researcher they allow the retrieval of an in-depth analysis on a particular topic or assist in finding a particular citation. Items held in the reference collection include:

  • Dictionaries
  • Encyclopedias
  • Bibliographies
  • Handbooks
  • Style Guides
  • Atlases and Maps
  • Biographies
  • Directories
  • Statistical Information

All print reference materials are held on the 4th floor of the library and are library use only. Like other items in the library reference materials are organized by the Library of Congress call number system (for how subjects are organized by the LoC Call Number system see the link on the right). 

In addition, there is a collection of online reference materials in the web subject guide available from this link.

To find a reference book on a particular subject you can either browse the reference collection by the call number of interest (see LoC Call Numbers on the right) or use the library catalog to locate a specific item:

  • Use a Subject or Keyword search on your topic.
  • On the top of the results page for that search there will be a feature titled Limit this Search.
  • Use the "Location" drop down menu to choose "Reference."

Please keep in mind that this method works best if the initial search was not too specific. Try different or related search terms to locate additional reference items.

Update: 6/22/09