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Library Research: General: About Reference Books

Merced College Library offers books, journals, magazines and newspapers full text to students. Use this guide to locate library resources.

Search the Book Catalog

Try searching the catalog for the subject

children AND prison 

juveniles AND crime

There are many ways to search for print and e-books in the catalog. Books are assigned a subject heading, like a tag.

Don't forget--the catalog does not look in the index that is found at the back of print books. If a title looks like it could have your topic, make sure to pull the book to check the index.

The catalog does usually list the table of contents. When you find an interesting title, click on the title, and then click on the link that says "Catalog record" to find out more information, like the table of contents, which lists the chapters, and subject terms. You can click on the subject terms to find other books that have these same headings.


Reference Sources

"Use reference books, also called reference or background sources, to get quick specific facts or information or an overview of a subject...Some examples of reference sources are: dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies, almanacs, directories, atlases, and handbooks. These can be online or in print" ["What are reference books (or reference sources)?", Simon Fraser University Library].

Reference sources can also point to scholarly sources in their list of references or suggested resources for further reading.

5 Reasons to Use Reference Sources

University of Guelph Library (2:41)


Reference Databases