Anyone can benefit from knowing a bit about reference resources, which are best for addressing particular questions and how they fit into the research process. However, this guide is organized primarily to support Library Technology students working on reference assignments.
Reference resources provide quick access to authoritative factual information, such as:
If you're just looking for a quick fact or introduction to a topic, reference resources can get you the information you need quickly. Looking at the citations listed in a reference resource can also provide initial list more substantive information sources for your research. Wikipedia and other resources on the web (some of which are listed in this guide) can fill this role too. However, if you're doing more substantive research, reference resources are usually insufficient as a source for academic or professional work.
Generally, reference resources (whether from the Library or the internet) are your starting point for research, not your endpoint.
There are several types of reference resources (many listed on the tabs across the top of this guide). Some references sources are just pointers. They tell you that information exists and, perhaps how to access it, but don't provide you with the answer directly. However, most reference resources will provide you with an answer or document that will meet your need. Many reference resource also focus on specific topics or disciplines, providing deeper or more technical answers than those written for a general reader.
This guide is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all the reference resources that may be useful to the SAIT community. It lists many resources, but there is much more to discover.
In particular, this guide focuses on electronic resources. By using Library Search, however, you will find many other resources - both in print and online - held by the Library.
If you'd like to see if the library has a specialized reference resource for a topic or discipline - or you want to find one online - just search your topic with the type of resource you're looking for (e.g. "dictionary chemistry" or "business biography").