Skip to main content

Guides

Gathering Background Information: Discover Print Reference Sources

Guide created for The Perch media project.

Using Print Reference sources

Nearly every single person uses the internet to look up information and do research, but doing research using print sources, like physical books, newspapers, and magazines exposes us to more information that might be unavailable online. 

Before Google and Wikipedia the most common print references were encyclopedias and dictionaries where people were able to look up facts, dates, and other information relatively quickly. 

Curious to see what they look like and how they're used? You can use the Oxford English Dictionary and the Encyclopedia Britannica in person at The Perch on the 1st Floor of the Main Library.

The Oxford English Dictionary (1989)

The Oxford English Dictionary, first published in 1884, is widely regarded as a leading authority on the written word. The dictionary contains over 600,000 words and covers the earliest known meanings of words on down to the most current usages of the word. 

At the UI Main Library, we hold the 2nd edition printed in 1989 in the main reference area on the 1st floor. You can locate the volumes in InfoHawk+ here and find it under the call number: FOLIO PE1625 .M7 1989. 

Our Library also subscribes to the full online version: http://purl.lib.uiowa.edu/oxford/oed that can be found in our list of databases. 

Image showing the complete 20 volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The New Encyclopedia Britannica (2010)

The New Encyclopedia Britannica, first published in 1768 was the "original Google" before the internet existed. It is where most people found answers to all their general reference questions about anything.

The UI Libraries has the complete edition published in 2010 which spans 32 individual volumes. It can be found in the Main library's reference collection on the 1st floor under the call number AE5 .E363 2010. Find a link to the record in InfoHawk+.

Image showing a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica.