Doing research is like building a scaffold of knowledge. At the beginning, you don't know much about your topic, so you should be looking a reference books or reference databases for short, informative articles that will provide you with facts to help put your specific topic into context within the bigger picture. There are two kinds of reference books - general and subject specific. An example of a general reference is the Encyclopedia Britannica, which has a little of everything. An example of a subject specific reference is the Encyclopedia of American Politics, which has a much narrower focus.
The books on this list are print reference books that can be found in our library, shelved by call number. Reference books do not circulate, but you may photocopy the pages you need, photocopy directly to your email, or use an app such as ScannerPro to scan the pages to PDF.