Reference tools provide generally agreed upon "facts" or common knowledge -- background information, the who, what, where and when -- and a bit of the how and why -- for any topic. They include subject and biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias, almanacs, chronologies, directories and atlases. Many, especially dictionaries and encyclopedias, are now available online. Many others, especially historical atlases and chronologies are still only available in print.
- Political Handbook of the World
- Europa World
- World Fact Book (CIA)
- Economist Intelligence Unit (see country reports)
- The Economist Country Briefings
- BBC News Country Profiles
- CQ Researcher
- Encyclopaedia Britannica online
- Wikipedia can be a great quick help in identifying the "who, what, when and where" of any given issue -- subject to later verification. Librarians use it all the time. However, it can be highly suspect when it comes to "how and why" questions especially those concerning intense conflicts. Use it -- but use it with caution!
Links to online referernce collections that may contain helpful sources depending on your topic.
Selected examples of print reference sources. All titles are located in the General Reference Collection (1st floor, Hesburgh Library). Browsing the reference collection using the examples listed below as starting points can be very effective.
- Encyclopedia of the stateless nations: ethnic and national groups... D 860 .M56 2002
- HIstorical Dictionary of Zambia. DT 3037 .G76 2008 [series -- country by country)
- The Statesman's Yearbook. JA51 .ST29
- Political Risk Yearbook: Vol. 4, Sub-Saharan Africa. JQ 1871 .A1 P64
- Europa World Year Book. JA 51 .E89 (see also online version Europa world)
- [CIA] World Fact Book. Documents Center, SuDoc (Lower Level Hesburgh) - PREX 3.15:
- (see also online version World Fact Book)
- A to Z maps online (political, physical, outline & others)
- United Nations Cartographic Section (all regions but not all countries)
- All the Worlds Maps (detail and type vary)
- Atlapedia Online (regional)
- Blank & Outline Maps (outline only)
- Google Earth (no printing)
- Global geopolitical flashpoints: an atlas of conflict. JC 319 .A52 2000
- World Bank Atlas / Atlas of Global Development. G 1046 .G1 I5
- The atlas of Africa. Atlas Oversize Cases G 2445 .N4
- The new atlas of African history. G 2446 .S1 F73 1991
- Historical atlas of Africa. Atlas Oversize Cases G 2446 .S1 H5 1985
In addition there is a large collection of current and historical atlases in the Hesburgh Library Reference Collection (first floor -- non-circulating).
Data & Statistics
SURVEYS & POLLS
- Afrobarometer is "an African-led series of national public attitude surveys on democracy and governance in Africa."
STATISTICS and DATA
- Proquest Statistical Datasets (data sets & graphs)
- Proquest Statistical (stats, charts & tables)
- Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) (data sets)
- United Nations Statistics Division (demongraphic stats)
- UNESCO Institute for Statistics (cultural stats)
- International Financial Statistics Online Service (IMF financial stats)
- World Development Indicators (economic stats)
- Infonation Advanced (stats and graphs)
- OECD iLibrary (economic stats)
- Finding data & statistics (Subject Guide)