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LIBR 235: Reference Resources: Introduction to Reference Resources

A select list of authoritative quick fact and reference information sources.

Who Should Use This Guide?

Everyone and anyone! We can all benefit from knowing a bit more about reference resources. However, this guide is organized primarily to support Library Information Technology students learning about the different categories of reference resources.  

What are Reference Resources?

Reference resources provide quick access to authoritative factual information, such as:

  • Statistics
  • Definitions
  • Directions
  • Biographies
  • And more!

If you are looking for a quick fact or introduction to a topic, a reference resource can quickly point you towards the information you need. More in-depth information can be found by checking the citations listed at the end of a reference resource and following them to their source. Wikipedia and other similar websites are an example of reference resources that provide quick facts and point readers to further information. If you are doing substantive academic or professional work, reference resources should not be your sole source of information. Generally, reference resources (whether from the Library or the Internet) should be your starting point for research, not your endpoint.

There are several types of reference resources, some of which are listed on the tabs across the top of this guide. Many reference resources focus on specific topics or disciplines, and provide deeper or more technical answers than resources written for a general reader. Some references resources do not directly supply the information you seek, they only point to it. These resources tell you that the information exists, and may provide instructions on how to access it. However, most reference resources are self-contained and provide direct answers to basic research questions.

Finding Reference Resources

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 are many more to discover.

In particular, this guide focuses on electronic resources. By using our Discovery Search tool, 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").

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