Conducting Library Research

Handbooks and Companions

Between dictionaries and encyclopedias lies a species of reference book in which concise surveys of terms and topics relating to a specific subject will be found. They are referred to as handbooks or companions and their articles are generally longer than dictionary entries but more concise than those in a standard encyclopedia.

They can be a great help in clearing up questions that a research project might generate. What is fabianism? What is the novel Bleak House about? What films have been made about angels? Which animals practice mimicry as a defense mechanism?

Check with a reference librarian to see if there are specialized handbooks on your topic. The following list provides an idea of the variety you may find in your library:

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Introduction