Browsing for Ideas
Background resources such as encyclopedias and handbooks are great tools to use when you're browsing for research ideas because they can:
are designed to give
the reader a general introduction or overview of a subject. The
Department is a microcosm of the library as there are materials
covering all disciplines. There are many types of reference sources
A few of the more common types are listed below from the ALA
Library and Information Science, 1983.
Almanac: A compendium (a written work containing the substance of a subject in brief), usually an annual, of statistics and facts.
Example: World Almanac and Book of Facts
Location: Reference Room Ready Reference, AY67 .N5 W7
Example: Information Please Almanacs
Atlas: A volume of maps, plates, engravings, tables, etc..
Example: Times Atlas of the World
Location: Reference Room Atlas Case, G1021 .T55 1999
Example: National Atlas of the United States
Bibliography: A list of works (books, articles, documents, or other items), usually with some relationship between them. (e.g., by given author, on a given subject). It differs from a catalog in that its contents are not restricted to the holdings of a single collection, library or group of libraries.
Example: Louisiana History: An Annotated Bibliography
Location: Reference Room Stacks, F369 .J86 2002
Example: Vietnam War Bibliography
Biography: Accounts of the lives and accomplishments of famous or infamous people.
Example: Current Biography Yearbook
Location: Reference Room Stacks, CT100 .C8
Example: Biography Resource Center
Dictionary: An alphabetic work that defines words or terms, sometimes on a central theme.
Example: The Civil War Dictionary
Location: Reference Room Stacks, E468 .B7
Directory: A listing of persons, organizations, or companies, systematically arranged, usually in alphabetic or classed order, giving address, affiliation, etc.
Example: Higher Education Directory
Location: Reference Room Stacks, L901 .H46 21st 2003
Example: American Hospital Directory
Encyclopedia: A book or set of books containing
informational articles on subjects in every field of knowledge, usually
arranged in alphabetic order, or a similar work limited to a special field or
subject. Encyclopedias can be general or specialized for a specific subject area.
Example: Encyclopedia Americana (general encyclopedia)
Location: Reference Room Ready Reference, AE5 .E333
Example: Catholic Encyclopedia (specialized encyclopedia)
Index: An alphabetical list of articles in periodicals, and other works, which may be arranged by subject and/or author.
Example: Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature
Location: Reference Room Ready Reference, AI3 .R48
Example: Bayou State Periodical Index
Literary Criticism: Critical analysis of authors and their works.
Example: Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism vol. 5
Location: Reference Room Stacks, PN761 .N5
Example: Literature Resource Center
Style Manual: Guidelines for citing sources, footnoting, designing term papers and bibliographies including rules about punctuation, spacing, etc.
Example: MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
Location: Reference Room Ready Reference, LB2369 .G53 2003
A reliable list of online reference sources is available @ http://lii.org/