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Tips for Using Reference Sources

Reference sources, in print and electronic form, are intended to provide quick look-up information. In the Oregon Tech Library, many current reference books are kept in the Reference collection located in the central part of the library behind the reference librarian's desk. Other reference books are kept in the library's main bookstacks. Some reference databases are accessible through subscriptions paid for by the Oregon Tech Library and some reference books are available full text through a catalog called NetLibrary.

The library has many subject-specialized reference books. To identify sources that may be helpful to you, try a search in the Oregon Tech Library's Web-based catalog. You can combine (using "and") a keyword or phrase representing your topic with a keyword for the type of reference book you want to find. (These terms appear in the subject headings, and not necessarily the titles, of the records you retrieve). Use the form of the word listed in the table below, e.g., dictionaries (plural) instead of dictionary.

Examples:

health and statistics
engineering and biography
computer* and dictionaries
psychology and encyclopedias
oregon and maps

Another way to identify books in the library's reference collection is to use a Keyword search for a subject keyword or phrase, limiting your search by Location. Select "Reference" from the "Location" drop-down menu.

These are the most commonly-used type of reference sources:

Type of Source Contains Examples
bibliography Lists of books, journal articles, conference papers or technical documents on a particular topic The consumer health information source book
A guide to field guides : identifying the natural history of North America
American nursing : a biographical dictionary
biography Information the people's lives Albert Einstein, the human side : new glimpses from his archives
dictionaries Word definitions, origins and pronunciations Dictionary of marketing terms
Glossary of geology
directories Contact information for organizations or individuals The National faculty directory
Northwestern environmental resource guide
encyclopedias Descriptions of historical figures and events, scientific and technical concepts, natural phenomena, etc. Dog owner's encyclopedia of veterinary medicine
Encyclopedia of applied physics
handbooks Concise presentation of information essential to a process Handbook of laser wavelengths
Handbook of head and neck imaging
Common plants of the inland Pacific Northwest
identification Portable book for field use Aquatic entomology: the fishermen's and ecologists' illustrated guide to insects and their relatives
indexes Bibliographic description (citation, sometimes abstracts) for periodical articles, book chapters, conference papers, and other collections. Anthropological literature
The Columbia Granger's index to poetry
maps Pictorial model of a space Atlas of medieval Europe
The NASA atlas of the solar system
quotations Quotations, usually with subject and speaker indexes Baseball's greatest quotations
The Quotable woman : from Eve to 1799
Design of reinforced masonry structures
standards Standards for products or processes set by government or professional organizations National emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) for the pharmaceutical industry
statistics Report of numerical research data 1996 youth fatal crash and alcohol facts
National hospital ambulatory medical care survey

Last updated: May 12, 2004