We've been talking a lot about electronic books (ebooks) lately and have previously pointed you (here and here) to our two main collections of ebooks: eBrary and NetLibrary. A good majority of ebooks in these two collections are books that deal with a single topic, in detail, and are meant to be read cover to cover. These books are called monographs.
But there are other types of books called reference works. Reference works are not meant to be read cover to cover, but are generally referred to as needed. They can be arranged alphabetically, topically, or by other appropriate criteria that would make it easily consulted for needed information.
Here are some different types of reference works:
- Dictionaries - contain definitions of words or phrases; arranged alphabetically
- Encyclopedias - contain articles on various topics; usually arranged alphabetically
- Atlases - collection of maps; maps may be geographically, demographically, or otherwise oriented
- Source Books - collection of historically important documents
- Handbooks - provide specific information about a subject
- Manuals - directions for following a prescribed format for written communications; also directions for using software or operating equipment
- Directories - list of names and addresses and websites; usually arranged alphabetically
- Yearbooks - a work published regularly once each year
Reference works used to be in print format only. They were (and still are) generally large, multi-volume books found in the Reference collection at the library; but more often reference works are offered in an electronic format either as an ebook or a searchable database. Reference works are ideal for the electronic format. Why?
- Books in the Reference collection of a library can not be checked out, so you must use them at the library; but when a reference work is offered in an electronic format you can access that item at any time and anywhere you have an Internet connection.
- The electronic format also makes them easier to search for the specific information you need.
- Multiple users can access the same ebook or e-reference work at the same time. It is like having multiple copies of the same item.
The following are specific e-reference collections we provide here at the Darling Library**:
- Encyclopedia Britannica
- Annals of American History - U.S. history original source documents
- Oxford Reference - Collection of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and companion works (see a list of titles here)
- ABC-CLIO - Collection of handbooks on various topics such as Religion & Politics, Consumer Culture, World Slavery, etc. (see a list of titles here)
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
**You will be required to login in order to access e-reference collections from off campus.