In this presentation you learned:About reference sources
Why you would use reference sources
Types of reference sources
How to choose reference sources
How to find reference sources
How to cite a reference book
How to enter information into NoodleTools for reference sources
*Welcome to the Reference Sources presentation. *In this presentation you will learn about
why you would use reference sources,
types of reference sources,
how to choose reference sources,
how to find reference sources,
how to cite a reference book, and
how to enter information into NoodleTools for reference sources.
*What is a reference source?
A reference source is a source that provides quick facts as well as broad information, and is written by experts in their field.
Generally, a reference source is not one to read for entertainment, but is mainly used for informational purposes. It can be general and cover a wide variety of subjects or be subject specific and cover only one topic.
There are two types of reference sources, those that have information written specifically for the source, and those that have information that was originally published in another source.
It can be a book in print, a book online, an online database, or a Web only resource. Many printed reference sources also have online versions. Some are available for free via the Web, while others require a yearly subscription.
This lesson focuses on print reference sources. Online reference sources will be discussed later in the course when online subscription databases and the Web are covered.
Why use reference sources?
Many people think of reference books as places to find quick facts and they are great for that, especially when you need a reliable source, but I want to emphasis the second point, which is to find broad information on a topic.
During your college career you may be asked to write a research paper on a topic with which are not familiar. A reference book is a quick way to learn about a topic. Not only will you receive an overview, but you will also learn key information, such as dates and names, that will help you with your research.
Reference books can also help you narrow your topic. If you are doing research on a broad topic, such as World War I, you can skim through an encyclopedia to look for an aspect of the topic that may be of interest to you.
Often, students tell me that their instructor has specifically stated that they may not use encyclopedias as sources for their research, but that does not mean that you cannot use it to get a broad overview of your topic. You are using the encyclopedia to educate yourself and to focus your research, it will not be used as a resource for your research.
Do you remember that I used an encyclopedia in a previous lesson? I used the subject specific encyclopedia American Decades to find out information about the Son of Sam for the print periodical index lesson? I used it to educate myself about the topic so that I could be better prepared to search for information.**Circulating vs. reference books
Circulating books are sources that you can borrow and take out of the library. Circulating books can also be good sources of reference information, but that is not typically their main purpose.
Reference books generally are sources used in the library and cannot be taken out. Often libraries will place older editions or duplicate copies of their reference books in the circulating collection, so some times you may be able to check them out.
*Types of common reference sources.
There are many types of references sources.
The most common are:
books of facts,
quotation sources, and
*Books of facts
Books of facts are good for brief facts, browsing, directory and biographical information, recent information on a subject or person, or for settling a bet or answering a trivia question.*Encyclopedias
Encyclopedias are good for concise, comprehensive, factual overviews of a subject.
Dictionaries are good for brief definitions of words, examples of usage, etymology, which is the history of a word, and spelling dont trust your spell-checker, look it up!
Atlases are good for finding where a place is located, historical maps of an area, and maps with geographic features.
Statistical sources are good for any type of statistics questions, such as for populations, the number of lawyers in the US, batting averages, highest mountains, etc.
Notice that one of my examples is an almanac that was also used as an example for books of facts. Many reference sources fit into more than one category.*Chronological sources
Chronological sources are good for finding out what happened when, what was happening at the same time as another event, and for getting an overview of a historical period.
Biographical sources are good for information about peoples lives.
Quotation sources are good for finding a good quote on a certain theme, finding the source of a quote, or finding quotes from a particular person.
Literary criticism sources are good for finding literary criticism. These sources usually contain articles that first appear in scholarly journals, or books, but are later gathered together in anthologies. If you have already taken English 1B then you know all about literary criticism.
Mission College has a handout that lists the literary criticism reference sources that are available in our library. It is a great place to start when you are required to find literary criticism for a research report.
Other reference sources
There are lots of reference books that do not fit into any of the previous categories, such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, and Profiles of American Colleges, to name a few.
While you are doing your homework this week, take a few minutes and look around the reference area you may be surprised by what you find!
*How do you choose a reference book?
First, think about your question and what it is you want to know. Think about the category of information that you need. It is statistical, biographical, or a fact? It is general or subject specific? Are specific dates involved?
Then match your information need with the type of reference source that would have this information.
For example, if you want to find out what happened on the day you were born, then you will need a chronological source, and if you were born on Feb 2, 1989, you would need a chronological source that includes that date. You would not select Day by Day: The Sixties, but you would pick Day by Day: The Eighties, or Chronology of the 20th Century.
Would a general encyclopedia be a good place to look for information about the day you were born? No, general encyclopedias indexes subjects, not specific dates. **Finding reference sources by title.
How do you find reference sources? If you know the name of the reference source you need, you can simply do a title search in the online catalog. Do not include the year as part of the title as most reference books list all editions in one record.
This is the catalog record for the Statistical Abstract of the United States.
As was mentioned earlier, many libraries keep past copies of reference books in their circulating collection, so the list of items can be very long. If you do not see the edition or location you need, you may have to click on an additional button to see more information.
Remember that we share our catalog with West Valley College, so you may not see our College listed, but if there is a View additional copies button at the bottom of the list, you can click on it to see more copies.
So, if you wanted to know if the library has Day by Day: The Eighties, you could search for it by title.
Finding reference sources by keyword
If you were not familiar with this source, Day by Day, the Eighties, you would have to use a keyword search and type chronology and eighties. You would find this book because the word eighties is in the title and one subject and the word chronology is in two of the subjects.
But what if we did not have this book or any chronologies of the eighties in our collection? You could try a broad keyword search on the word chronology. This, of course, yields hundreds of results, but you can then limit your results to only Mission College Reference and then review the list for an appropriate resource.
If you are looking for a subject specific source, you can type in the subject and the type of source. For example, if you are looking for a religious encyclopedia, try typing religion and encyclopedia into a keyword search.
*Finding reference sources by browsing.
You can also browse the reference collection based on the call number range of your subject. If you consult the Mission College LC Classification handout, you will find that the call number area for religion is B. You could then browse the B call number range of the reference section for relevant sources.
As part of your homework assignment, you will be asked to browse the reference section of a library and note down three subject specific reference sources that are new to you. You may want to consult the LC handout, or a Dewey subject guide, if you will be going to a public library, before your library visit, to note the call number range of subjects that interest you.
*Using a reference book.
Most reference books are organized in alphabetical order by subject or some other form of classification system whether they have one volume or are a multi volume set. To find your topic, you should check the index first.
Single volume sources will have a back of the book index, while multi volume sets usually have a separate volume at the end that is an index.
If a multivolume set does not have a separate index, then you should use the index in the back of the last volume.
Even if a book is organized alphabetically you should first consult the index, because your topic may appear in more than one subject or it may not appear as an entry, but is covered under a different entry.
For example, there is not an entry for Barney Clark in the World Book Encyclopedia. If I only look in the C volume, I would erroneously conclude that he is not listed in this encyclopedia. But, if I checked the index, I will find the following entry for Clark, Barney.
There are two entries under his name. He is mentioned in the entries for artificial heart and heart. These are cross references, j...