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Hope Library Guides

History 221, Fall 2013: Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa: Reference Tools

Why Reference Sources?

As you are starting to explore a new research topic, reference sources are a good way to gain background information on your topic.  High quality, academic, multivolume sets, will often give you the beginnings of scholarly research on a subject by providing a short bibliography of important works on the subject.

Even with advanced subject knowledge of an area, you will run across unfamiliar people, places and events.  Library reference sources will allow you to quickly fill in those gaps and improve your contextual knowledge with more reliability than a Wikipedia article.

Reference Works of Interest (selected!)

Finding Reference Books

There are a variety of general and focused reference books that can give you an overview of your topic and help you get a sense of where to look next in your research.  They can also be a reference point for brief definitions and background questions as you do your research

Van Wylen's reference section is on the main library floor. It's organized just like the rest of our collection, so reference books dealing with the same or similar subjects (like British history) are often found in the same vicinity. A fun way to find reference tools to use in your projects is just to come in and browse the shelves! 

You can, however, also use HopeCAT's advanced search feature to locate reference books on a particular topic. In the "Location" and "Material Type" menus, you can select "Van Wylen Reference" and "Print Book," respectively. This will add these limiters to whatever search terms you are using in the fields on top.

You can include e-reference books by inlcuding "eBook" in your search. (To highlight more than one material type or location, click on your selection while holding down "Ctrl.")

Browsing the Library Shelves

Sure, you can find books in HopeCAT. Yes, we have countless scholarly articles at your disposal in our numerous databases. But have you ever thought about the way our library is organized?

Our books and bound journals are shelved together according to subject, which means books nearest one another usually deal with the same (or at least similar) topics. sometimes, the best way to find the perfect book is to go to the right library location and just browse the shelves!

Van Wylen -like many academic libraries in the U.S. - organizes its books according to the Library of Congress system (LOC). Our call numbers begin with 2 letters, which are followed by numbers. This combination is actually the specific subject code.

For your history classes, you will often be most interested in call numbers beginning with C, D, E and F, which are the major subdivisions of the discipline of History. For your class, which focuses on . 

In the Van Wylen library, these books are found on the third and fourth floors.