Section 2 Books > Periodicals > Web sources > Primary-Secondary sources > Review > Exercise

Books: Reference vs. Stacks

The books in a library's collection are shelved either in reference or the stacks. So what's the difference, and which collection should you use??

Think of the books in your own home, which can probably be divided into the same two categories. For example, an owner's manual for a home appliance, a telephone book, or a cookbook would be considered reference books. You refer to these for specific information. Reference books can be used to great advantage when researching a paper.

See encyclopedias and other reference sources

On the other hand, the books that you spend time with, novels and biographies, for example, are comparable to the library books shelved in the stacks. These books provide a full, detailed treatment of a topic or, put another way, they flesh out the information provided in an encyclopedia.

In researching a paper you might need to check both kinds of sources. 

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