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Email reference is available Monday through Friday during the Fall and Spring semesters. We try to respond within two days.
Chat with the library 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to meet with a librarian for in-depth help with your research.
- Background sources (also known as reference sources) are tertiary and contain information we "refer" to, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias. These are good sources to use to get started - when you need ideas for how to narrow your topic, or could use more words to describe your needs (such as when thinking of keywords to put into a search box.)
What do they contain?
How often are these sources published?
- Once, annually, or every few years
Credo Reference This link opens in a new window
Credo Reference offers background information on topics from hundreds of full-text general and subject-specific reference/encyclopedia titles, as well as 500,000+ images and audio files and over 1,000 videos.
Britannica Academic This link opens in a new window
Trusted overview information, including Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, magazines and periodicals, and other research, written by Nobel laureates, historians, curators, professors, and other notable experts.
Gale eBooks This link opens in a new window
An online collection of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. Small searchable and downloadable collection of electronic books on a variety of subjects.
▶ Check out our video
on how to use e-books for research.
Alternative places to look:
Opposing Viewpoints (Gale In Context) This link opens in a new window
The "Overview" entries in this multidisciplinary database are very good background sources. Overviews are found at the top of the individual Topic
Films on Demand This link opens in a new window
While not strictly "reference," this video database is a great multidisciplinary source to find background information.
Library & Learning Resources, City College of San Francisco
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