Bristol Community College

Bristol Community College

Finding Background Information

The reference collection is an excellent place to begin your research if you want a quick and easy way to find:

  • a summary of a topic
  • a list of recommended resources
  • factual information

Reference books are organized by subject, just as are books on the circulating stacks. Here at Williams, we use the Library of Congress classification schedules (LC call numbers) to arrange our resources. Use these schedules to find call number ranges to browse in the reference collection and stacks:

When you find a reference book:

  • Scan the table of contents to see how it is organized.
  • Note its publication date (There will be a 2 to 3 year time lag for publications included in its bibliographies).
  • Check its index if you are having trouble finding what you need.

Below are some common types of reference resources. In most cases, the links take you to the SAILS record with the full publication information, location, and call number.

Chronologies are great for researching world issues, events, and people contemporary to your topic. Selected chronologies are listed below.

Need numbers to support your claims? Try the following historical statistics compendia. Statistical resources for particular groups (women, racial and ethnic groups, etc.) can be found in the reference collection with other materials related to that group.