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Reference Shelf: Reference Shelf

Find reference materials including online encyclopedias, general interest databases, background resources, and more!

Welcome to the Reference Shelf!


The Library has plenty of reference materials in print & online including general interest databases, ebooks, online encyclopedias, and other reference resources to find background or overview information about your research topic.

Using online reference resources like Credo ReferenceGale Virtual Reference Library, or Oxford Reference Online can provide quick -- and credible! -- answers. 

Reference Books (Print)

Reference books include encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and readers. The Purchase College reference collection goes beyond World Book and Britannica-- we have reference books tailored to specific disciplines, majors, or topics. In our catalog, you can find reference materials covering human rights issues, herbal medicine, art history, musical theater, cinema, opera, and much more!  

Reference books are shelved in our Main Stacks according to subject using Library of Congress call numbers. That means you can find the Encyclopedia of Sociology on the shelf next to other books about sociology. Some reference books are circulating (you can check them out of the library), others are non-circulating (you can scan or read them while in the library).

Ready-reference books like citation style manuals, dictionaries, thesauruses, and almanacs can be found on the shelf at the Reference Desk for quick use.

Online Reference Resources (ebooks, databases, online encyclopedias)

Use these online encyclopedias and other general reference e-resources to find background or overview information about your research topic.


Tips for finding reference books

To look up a reference book, use the Library Catalog to find the call number (print) or the link (ebook).

You can search for a specific title (i.e.: "Oxford English Dictionary") or try general search terms like "thesaurus" or "dictionary."

If you're doing research in a specific discpline, search for keywords and add search terms like "handbook," "encyclopedia," or "reference" to your search.

immigration AND handbook

encyclopedia AND "gender studies" 

theater AND reference

Most reference books are in the Main Stacks on the Lower Level.  Art, photography and oversized reference books are on the second floor (N and TR sections)

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