Bible & Theology
Understanding General Reference Tools
Reference tools contain general information. Encyclopedias, dictionaries, and atlases are three types of general reference tools. Bible dictionaries and concordances are specialized reference works These materials can be found in both the reference and circulation collections of the library.
Concordances locate every location of each word in the Bible. Strong's concordance includes numbers identifying the word used in the original Biblical language. Here is one online location for Strong's.
A general encyclopedia compiles information about a wide variety of subjects. Subject encyclopedias compile information on a single subject. The information is alphabetical and generally includes an index. Many times the articles will include a bibliography for further research. General encyclopedias are not considered primary sources for research papers but are useful for learning and understandng an overview of your subject. Specialized encyclopedias with signed articles may be used as a resource for some courses; consult your professor.
General encyclopedias can be found in the Dewey classification 031. Subject encyclopedias are found in the classification for that subject; e.g. Bible encyclopedias are in 220.3; music encyclopedias are in 780.3.
Online encyclopedias: LibrarySpot List
Dictionaries are one of the most used reference tools. Within the alphabetical arrangement, you may find information such as spelling, pronunciation, definition, other forms of the word, etymology (history), part of speech, and the word used in context. Just as with the encyclopedia, there are dictionaries dedicated to specific subjects. The Oxford English Dictionary is available in the library in print and at the reference computers. General dictionaries can be found in 423; Bible dictionaries can be found in 220.3.
Online dictionaries: LibrarySpot list
An atlas is a book of maps. They may be maps of the world, a part of the world, or illustrating events or statistics. The index will help you locate the area needed. Atlases can be found in the 900's; Bible atlases can be found in 220.91.
Online maps: LibrarySpot list