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Early American History: Reference Book Guide: Home

What is a Reference Source?

Ever use Wikipedia? An encyclopedia or dictionary? Then you've used a reference source!


A reference source is essentially a resource designed to give you a quick, usually authoratative overview of a topic. It's not a book, for instance, to be read cover to cover - only to be read at point of need.


It's a great place to start when doing research as typically they will give you not only an overview of a topic, but clue you in to important people, names and places that can be later used as search terms. Additionally, many reference sources include citations or recommendations for further, in-depth reading on a topic. 

Where to Locate Reference Sources


We have a great offering of print reference located on the main floor of Beeghly Library.


Tools to Find Reference Sources

In Consort: a. Do an Advanced Search and limit by an OWU Library Reference Location.
In Consort: b. Do a Subject Search and look for keywords like Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, etc.
In Summon: a. Depending on the topic, an initial search might pull up a reference entry on the righ tof the Summon results list.
In Summon: b. Or do a search on your topic, then from the results screen under Content Type (left side), select More..., and limit by Reference.