Reference Skill Worksheets

Students learn the different parts of the library and which references provide value at different times.

  1. Choosing Resources - Which references should you use and when? There are many resources for information we need everyday. The newspaper gives the most current daily news such as current events, sports information, and daily weather.

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What References Will You Find in a Library?

Whether you are looking to do some in-depth research or want some quick facts or information on a subject, library reference sources are just what you need. Remember that the most important aspect of your research is having authentic reference sources to support your study.

Let us first understand the meaning and purpose of the reference sources.

What Are Reference Sources?

Reference sources are the best place to begin your research. If you are exploring a new subject or starting a research project, reference sources can help build your knowledge regarding the topic and give you a great head start.

Reference sources are designed to help give you overviews of topics. It is also a great place to look if you want to find factual and authoritative information in a clear and organized way. From biographical details of important historical figures or a summary of a particular topic, reference sources will give you all the answers you need.

What sets reference sources apart from other types of sources is the fact that they would require you to go over them cover to cover to find what you are looking for. The information in reference sources is organized in a way that aids in ease of discovery and points you in the exact direction where you will find all the facts and figures you are searching for.

Here are two ways you can use reference sources:

1. To Get Background Information on A Specific Topic

Getting background information means that you are searching for information to help you understand the research topic that has been assigned to you. This information also helps you find other resources. For example, if you use reference sources to find the history of something, you are only using that resource to determine the context of your research topic. You are not required to cite, quote or paraphrase background information in your research as it is mainly for your understanding.

2. To Find Specific Facts About Something

Another way to use reference sources is to search for specific facts that will help support your research. For example, if you need to find the percentage of the people who own a car in a particular region, you will find the exact figures in library reference sources.

This information can then be used in your research with the appropriate citation, which will allow the reader to verify the authenticity of your facts. For this reason, you must ensure that the reference sources you are using are trustworthy and well-reputed. If you are unsure about the authenticity of a text, we recommend consulting the reference librarian.

Here are some of the most useful resources in a library to assist you in your research.

1) Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias provide background information that helps identify important concepts and pave the way for further reading. This library reference resource contains information on various subjects or aspects of a subject. This information is typically arranged in alphabetical order.

You can use general Encyclopedias for your research or subject-specific ones to gain further information regarding sub-topics in that particular subject. What is common in all Encyclopedias is that they provide brief and factual information. Wikipedia is an Encyclopedia that can be accessed through the web and is a good starting place for your research.

2) Dictionaries

Dictionaries are much like encyclopedias in that they also aim to provide contextual information on a subject in alphabetical order. They are used to finding the meaning of difficult words you may encounter during your research, even in your daily lives.

You will also find equivalent words in other languages in most dictionaries. The information or entries found in dictionaries are often much briefer than in encyclopedias.

3) Atlases and Gazetteers

Atlases and Gazetteers are reference sources used to find information related to geography. So, if you are looking for maps or historic geographical data, these are the best places to look. These resources also help see precisely where something is located.

While atlases are focused on maps, gazetteers provide geographical features and places. You will also find the exact longitude and latitude of places along with shorts descriptive paragraphs.

4) Handbooks and Manuals

If you require some practical knowledge or information to support your research, handbooks and manuals are where you should be looking. A handbook contains concise facts about a subject and often comes in a single volume. The information contained in handbooks is practical and instructional. Manuals serve a similar purpose and provide information regarding how a specific resource is used.

5) Chronologies and Timelines

Research often involves going back in time to compare and make connections between events that occurred simultaneously worldwide. You can pick any time frame of your choice and gain access to significant events that took place during that time.

6) Directories

Directories are another reference source you may come across during your research. However, due to the advancements in technology and information being readily available at the click of a button, directories have now become less popular than they once were.

Directories provide details about people and organizations, such as their addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, biographical data, etc. If you are trying to locate information about organizations closely related to your research topic, It will help to look them up in directories.

Wrapping Up

You will find both online and in-print reference sources in your library. Regardless of where you are collecting your data and information, it would be best if you verified the authenticity of your text. You will find some reference sources near the library desk, while others may be behind the desk and are usually not critical to common reference questions.

While going over your reference material, it would help to take notes. Another way to say the information is to scan or photocopy whatever you find relevant to your research.

These library reference sources serve as an excellent starting point for your study and will provide you will find precisely the information you are looking for! You just need to know where to look. We hope this guide was useful.