Reference resources help you choose, explore and develop your topic! Reference sources such as encyclopedias and dictionaries contain overviews and background information. They sometimes contain statistics, definitions and lists of resources for further study. When you have a better understanding of your topic, it will be easier to come up with the search terms you'll use to find the books and articles you need.
Wikipedia is a reference source because it is an encyclopedia. You can use it to discover ideas and links to additional resources -- but never cite it as a source in your papers! This rule exists because Wikipedia entries can be edited at any time, by anyone, and so its accuracy can never be relied upon at any given moment.
These resources can help you to refine your topic or familiarize yourself with an issue. They make a great starting point when you have a general idea of a research topic, but you still need to narrow it down.
The Shatford Library has a rich collection of reference books on the main level of the library, to the left and right of the Reference Desk. These books cover a wide range of topics and can provide you with information including definitions, overviews of topics, biographies, statistics, pictures and illustrations, and more.
Reference books may be used in the library, but are not available to borrow and remove from the building.
To search for reference books, see the picture below. Simply visit the search box on the "Finding Books" tab of this guide, then type your search term (topic, person's name, etc.) followed by "b8:reference"