Reference Books

General Reference Works

Print reference works provide you with factual information on specialized subjects. A reference book is usually consulted briefly to determine specific information. For this reason, reference books do not circulate and must be used within the library building. Some examples of reference books include the following:

We call these types of reference books General Reference Works.


Encyclopedias provide compressed, factual overviews on a number of subjects. They may be composed of many volumes of information and are usually found in the reference section under the A call number section. The Hartnell College Library has the following types of general encyclopedias:

One of the most important parts of an encyclopedia is the index. The index allows you to find multiple parts of information related to the topic you are researching. These may be located in more than one volume of the encyclopedia. The index is usually located in the last volume of a multi-volume encyclopedia or in the back of a single volume encyclopedia.

There are also subject-specific encyclopedias. Some examples within the Hartnell Library are:


The library offers several different types of language dictionaries. They provide definitions of words in alphabetical format. Some provide information about pronunciation and etymology of the word, as well as examples of how the word might be used within a sentence. Here are some examples of general dictionaries:

The library also contains specialized dictionaries such as the following titles:


Atlases allow you to find the location of places, directions how to get to it, and information about its geographic features. Some of the atlases the Hartnell Library has in its reference collection include the following:


Atlas of North America
• Hammond world atlas
• Rand McNally commercial atlas & marketing guide, 2006
• The world book atlas

Statistical Sources

Some of the more commonly used statistical reference resources include these titles:


• The Statesman’s year-book
• Statistical abstract of the United States
• Statistical abstract of the world
• The World almanac and book of facts

Biographical Sources

These reference sources allow you to find out more about famous people. Some biographical sources focus on only Americans. Some provide information for notable individuals from all over the world. Some specialize in biographical information about authors or musicians or politicians. The Hartnell Library provides access to many common resources, including the following:


Biography index
• Command, a historical dictionary of military leaders
• Current biography
• Who’s who among Hispanic Americans
• Who’s who in U.S. writers, editors & poets
• The Who’s who of Nobel Prize winners

Quotation Sources

Quotation reference books may have information arranged by theme, author, or chronologically. Some well-known books of quotations are:


Specialized Sources

Some of the specialized science and technology reference books the Hartnell Library offers include the following titles:

Web Author: Jennifer Lagier Fellguth
Copyright c2007 by Jennifer Lagier Fellguth - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Please report any broken links to