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Ready Reference

Ready reference sources provide quick and general information, and are consulted for factual, definitive answers. These include dictionaries, encyclopedia, directories, handbooks, almanacs, biographies, as well as geographic information sources.

Dictionaries and Thesauri

Some common resources are listed below.

Try a catalog search with your area of study and dictionaries  to see if there are subject specific resources. (ex. biology dictionaries, Shakespeare dictionaries)

Books In Print

The American Heritage dictionary of the English language Ref. PE1625 .A54
Modern Catholic dictionary Ref. BX 841 .H36 1980
Oxford English dictionary Ref. PE1625. O87
The Doubleday Roget's thesaurus in dictionary form Ref PE1591 .D6 1977


Oxford English Dictionary - This is an online version of the leading historical dictionary of the English language including etymology, philology, and quotations. It is updated quarterly.

Internet Resources

Merriam-Webster Online - Free searchable dictionary and thesaurus, and other English language and vocabulary reference tools and resources

OneLook Dictionaries - OneLook is a search engine for words and phrases. The site quickly searches through web-based dictionaries that define or translate words. Free online thesaurus from that quickly finds synonyms and antonyms.



Dictionary of quotations  Ref. PN6081 .E9
Oxford dictionary of literary quotations 
Ref. PN 6081 .O89
Yale book of quotations 
Ref. PN 6081 .Y35


Quotations Page Provides more than 23,000 quotations from over 2500 authors

Bartlett's  Familiar Quotations - A collection of passages, phrases, and proverbs in ancient and modern Literature


Encyclopedias are a great source for background and overview material. Additionally, there are subject specific encyclopedias which go into great depth.

Examples of resources are listed below. Try a catalog search with your area of study and encyclopedias to see if there are subject specific resources. (ex. philosophy encyclopedias, religion encyclopedias)


Encyclopedia Americana  Ref. AE 5 .E333 2005
Encyclopedia of Business  Ref. HF 1001 .E466
Encyclopedia of Computer Science   Ref.  QA 76.15 .E48 2000
Encyclopedia of Philosophy Ref.  B 51 .E53 2006
Encyclopedia of Texas Ref.  F384 .E52 1983
Encyclopedia of World Art  Ref. N 31 .E3
New Catholic Encyclopedia  Ref. BX 841 .N44


Encyclopedia Britannica - (General)  The Encyclopaedia Britannica is the largest, most authoritative encyclopedia in the world. Its broad scope includes statistics, classics, definitions, articles in journals, and maps.

Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia - (General) This database provides over 25,000 encyclopedic entries covering a variety of subject areas.


Encyclopedia Judaica - (Subject Specific) It features more than 21,000 entries on Jewish life, culture, history, and religion, written by Israeli, American and European subject specialists.

New Catholic Encyclopedia  - (Subject Specific) This 15 volume, second edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia features revised and new articles on theology, philosophy, history, literary figures, saints, and musicians.

Internet Resources - Online dictionary and encyclopedia with pictures, facts, and videos, enhanced with links to newspaper and magazine articles.