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Lucy Scribner Library

Reference Sources: Home

Part of the Britannica Encyclopedia set with the volumes and subjects

Finding Specific Titles

The library has a plethora of print and online reference sources. The best way to find specific reference sources is to use the library catalog, either searching a specific title or searching a subject along with the terms encyclopedias or dictionaries. See the example at the bottom of this page.

Online Reference Databases

The library has subscriptions to several large, multidisciplinary databases that you can use to search for most topics.

Online Dictionaries

The library has subscriptions to several large, English language dictionaries.

What are reference sources?

Encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference sources provide basic information on a topic like names, dates, and definitions. Use these when narrowing down a topic or to look up unfamiliar terms and concepts when reading scholarly publications like journal articles.

What are subject-specific reference sources?

These are reference books focused in a particular discipline or topic. Often, these sources will have longer, more detailed entries written by a specific scholar in the field and provide a bibliography. These are especially useful when starting your research to learn more about your topic, gain keywords for your searches, and get a bibliography of potential sources that you can find and use yourself.

Where are reference sources located?

There is a reference collection on the 1st floor, behind that Research Help desk, that you can browse. However, many reference sources can be found in the circulating collection or available online. It's best to search the catalog first before browsing the shelves.

How do I search for reference sources?

It's best to either consult the applicable subject guide for reference recommendations or search the catalog.

There are many ways to search the catalog. Here's one option:

  • In the first search box type your general subject or topic. If you're searching a broad topic like art, physics, etc., search it as a subject by selecting "Subject" in the right-hand field. This will help narrow your results.
  • ‚ÄčIn the next box type "Encyclopedias" and "Dictionaries". Make sure they are plural. Select "Any of these" from the box to the right. Then search them as a "Subject".

When going through your results, pay attention to where the reference source is located. It may be in the 1st floor collection, in the circulating collection, or an online source.


Catalog search looking for reference sources