What are Reference Books? Why are they important?
Reference books are encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials that provide readers with a thorough overview of a topic. Some things to look for in a reference text are:
- Bibliographies: Literally translated as 'A list of books,' this section is usually located at the end of an encyclopedic entry and contains a list of further sources for you to investigate. A bibliography is a wonderful resource, simply because it gives you access to more information without having to search for the information.
- Keywords: Some dictionaries and encyclopedias have a list of subject terms that are specific to your discipline. Knowing some of these terms can help you when you conduct research.
- Chronologies: Some dictionaries and encyclopedias have one or several chronologies. A chronology is a timeline with important, discipline-specific events and is usually located in the front or back of a reference text.
- Entries: The entries in a reference text provide background information on a specific topic, and are usually organized alphabetically.
Below I've provided a list of reference materials from the Reference Collection at Western Libraries. These texts are located on second floor of Haggard Hall, and do not circulate. However, you are more than welcome to scan or photocopy relevant entries!