Reference books such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, handbooks, and directories are great starting points for your research and will provide you with background information and an overview of a topic. Reference books are designated in the catalog by “Reference Collection” and by “Ref”printed above the call number on the spine of the book. These materials are shelved in the reference area. Reference books do not check out and must be used in the library. Some reference materials are available online from the Library's Resources page.