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Library and Information Science: Find Reference Works

This guide links to sources on trends, best practices, and research in the fast changing field of academic librarianship.

Why Reference?

Reference works are an excellent first stop in your research and are incredibly useful for the following:

  • Getting an overview of a topic
  • Getting topic ideas for a paper topic or narrowing your topic
  • Brainstorming keywords for searching and learning the vocabulary used by authors in that area
  • Learning the key works on a given topic
  • Discovering the key authors on a given topic

Reference works are a good starting off point, but should not be cited in your research as they are not considered primary or secondary sources. The only exception is when reference works contain primary and secondary sources (like collections of documents and essays).

Electronic Reference Resources

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Encyclopedias and dictionaries provide excellent background/overview information, providing an excellent way to begin research. Many provide bibliographies for further reading. Mostly located in the second-floor reference collection from approximately HA-HJs, here's a sampling of resources available:

Directories

Handbooks and Manuals

Handbooks are general information sources which provides quick reference for a given subject area. Handbooks are generally subject-specific.