Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Background from reference
Reading specialized reference books helps to provide an overview of the topic, helps come up with ideas for searchable keywords, and even provides lists of other sources from bibliographies that are often included with the entries.
Get background information to start your research and use the Mind Map to find related terms and expand your search. Over 3,400,000 full text entries in 1,012 titles from 100+ publishers. Includes images.
Reading specialized reference sources could give you insight on key events relating to a literature setting. For example, reading a story set in America in the 1950s? Take a look at American Decades 1950 to 1959.
American Decades Primary Sources by
Call Number: R 973.9 A51236 1950 (Books)
Publication Date: 2003-12-05
Includes the American Decades series (online). Search GVRL for these titles and more.
Find critical reviews
Academic Search Complete (EBSCOhost)
Multi-subject database, with more than 8,500 magazines and journals. Includes abstracts for more than 12,500 journals and a total of more than 13,200 publications including monographs, reports, conference proceedings, etc.
The Library has full-text access to 350 back files of academic journals. Journals are always included from volume 1, issue 1, to most available in this database. Also available are abstracts to additional journals. Focus is on high quality research.
Literary Reference Center (EBSCOhost)
Full-text collection of literary reference works & journals.
Poetry & Short Story Reference Center (EBSCOhost)
This full-text database provides a historically rich collection of hundreds of thousands of classic and contemporary poems, as well as short stories, biographies and authoritative essays on such topics as poetic forms, movements and techniques — including contemporary content from the finest publishers. More than 2,400 audio recordings of poets reading their own works.
Critical surveys of literature, e.g., graphic novels, Shakespeare, and more.
500+ reference titles containing over 3 million entries, including 200,000+ images. A wide variety of titles from 60+ publishers.
Gale eBooks, formerly Gale Virtual Reference Library, contains over 200 reference and specialized sources on multiple subjects.
Oxford English Dictionary
The definitive record of the English language. The Oxford English Dictionary is the accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium.
Access eBooks owned by the library pertaining to:
• Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to Present
• Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895
• Encyclopedia of Global Change
• Grove Dictionary of American Music
• The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature
Includes information from Oxford’s Quick Reference site pertaining to timelines and overview pages.