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Major Types of Reference Books

(What kind of information do I need?)


What Do I Need? Type of Reference Book Location in the OSU Library How to Find in the Library Catalog (Advanced Search)
To find a list of books and articles on a topic.

Bibliographies/Abstracts/
Indexes, Also try literature reviews in journals. (There were paper ones long before online ones.)

Reference section (1st floor).
May also be part of a book, article—check for references! The Library may not own everything listed in a bibliography.
Use “bibliographies” or “sources” in the subject field, along with your topic as another keyword.
Definitions, subject overviews, broad perspective. Dictionaries/Thesauri Reference, (1st floor),
Stacks (the shelves) also many online.
Use “dictionaries” in the subject field, along with your topic as another keyword.
For history of words, try the Oxford English Dictionary Online; see Databases on the Library Homepage.
Use “dictionaries” in the subject field, along with your topic as another keyword.
For history of words, try the Oxford English Dictionary Online; see Databases on the Library Homepage.
Subject-specific encyclopedias General Reference (1st floor), but also many in the Stacks. Use either “encycloped?”, handbook?, or dictionaries” in the subject field, along with your topic as another keyword.
Concise data, formulas, charts, statistics, also background, broad context. Almanacs/Handbooks General Reference (1st floor), Government Documents (5th), Stacks. Use either “handbook?” or “dictionaries” in the subject field, along with your topic as another keyword.
Lists: people, places, industries, associations, addresses and basic facts. Good for contacting experts. Directories/Professional Associations, interest groups General Reference (1st floor), Internet; older copies often in Stacks. Use ”directories” in the subject field, along with your topic as another keyword.
To support your arguments with facts and numbers. Statistics (Many reference books include statistics, especially almanacs or the Statistical Abstract of the U.S. Government Documents are often good sources & sometimes are online—see the GovDocs homepage. Also try the Statistical Lexis-Nexis database Try “statistics” in the subject field, or the title field, along with your topic as another keyword.
Reports, guidebooks, laws, congressional testimony, research studies, etc. Government documents—state and Federal Government Documents (5th)
Try the Academic Lexis/Nexis database; get help from a librarian
Try “laws, statutes, etc.” in the library catalog subject heading field.
Find out WHERE--Graphic backup for statistics, how people interact with natural resources, etc. Maps/Atlases/Gazetteers, even road maps (5th), Map Room (basement),
General Reference (1st floor),
Government Documents
Try “maps” or “atlases” or “gazetteers” in the subject field in an advanced search.
Public opinion, attitudes, social trends. Opinion Polls and Surveys ProQuest, Academic Search Elite—try “public opinion polls” or “polls and surveys” Try “public opinion” or “public opinion polls” in the subject field
Background on authors, public figures. Biographical Information—
Biography and Genealogy Master Index
Current Biography, Biography Index, Contemporary Authors (in Reference); Internet sites Try “biography” in the subject field
In-depth information Books All over the Library, including the Reference Section!  

 

PERIODICALS



Type of Periodical Characteristic Location in the Library: Print How to Find Online
Periodicals (magazines, journals, scholarly journals) Current Information, detailed information on topics, highly developed arguments Current—First Floor
Back—Bound, on the floors
Online--Databases
For full text, browse or search the Full Text Journals list, or the Library Catalog by journal title.
The following 3 types are subdivisions of the category “Periodicals.”
Scholarly Periodicals, aka “Journals” Research work of subject experts, professionals. Paper and online Use databases
Trade Journals, aka Trade magazines Designed for professionals in a business, industry, or profession. Paper and online Good for developments in a trade: Facts, helpful hints, often information on laws or policy. Use general databases like ProQuest, or EBSCO databases like Academic Search Elite, Business Source Elite, and other subjects
Popular magazines/periodicals Current events, media reports, non-scholarly perspectives. Paper and online Same as for trade journals

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URL: http://www.library.okstate.edu/infolit/reference.htm
Last Updated: 1 Sept 2009