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.
- Oxford international encyclopedia of peace
- Political handbook of the world
- Europa world
- Access science
- Encyclopedia of environment and society
- 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. There will also be helpful resources in the Engineering and Chemistry/Physics branch libraries.
- A Dictionary of environment and conservation. GE 10 .P375 2007
- Encyclopedia of violence, peace, & conflict. HM 291 .E625 2008
- Encyclopedia of environment and society. HM 856 .E53 2007
- The Statesman's Yearbook. JA51 .ST29
- Political Risk Yearbook. (e.g. Vol. 8 Central & South Asia) JQ 98 .A1 P64
- World at risk. JZ 1242 .W67 2002
- World Encyclopedia of Peace. JZ 5533 .W67 1999
- 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)
Examples of specialized atlases available in the Hesburgh Library Reference Collection. The Libraries also have a collection of large, detailed maps published by various U.S. government agencies.
- Atlas of global development. G 1046 .G1 I5
- The atlas of U.S. and Canadian environmental history. GF 503 .A84 2003
- The Penguin atlas of diasporas. GN 370 .C43 1995
- The new atlas of planet management. HC 79 .E5 N445 2005
- Global geopolitical flashpoints: an atlas of conflict. JC 319 .A52 2000
Statistics are often divided into to categories, data sets that have not yet been analysed and statistical tables, charts and graphs based on data sets. Sometimes statistical tables will link to the original data sets but more often simply cite them.
- Statistical Abstract (U.S. Census Bureau) (stats with cites)
- Proquest Statistical Datasets (data sets & graphs)
- Proquest Statistical (stats, charts & tables)
- Polling the Nations (public opinion stats)
- 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)
- OECD iLibrary (economic stats)
- Finding data & statistics (Subject Guide)