When starting off with a research project, where’s the first place (after class notes and lecture) you turn to for more information? I think most of us would answer “Wikipedia.” (Librarians use Wikipedia, too!) However, most instructors discourage citing Wikipedia. Luckily, you have access to many online scholarly reference collections that can be cited as background information for your project!
One reference collection you have access to is Gale Virtual Reference Library, a searchable collection of almost 200 reference eBooks, providing background information about the arts, business, history, social sciences, and medicine. You can search by topic or subject, or browse within specific encyclopedias, handbooks. I have personally spent some lunch breaks combing through The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained (who knew Adolf Hitler and Ronald Reagan were super into astrology?) and finding new artists discussed in St. James Encyclopedia of Hip Hop Culture. You can also quickly pull citation information to include in your bibliography or references list.
While we have plenty of physical reference books in the University Libraries, you can access Gale Virtual Reference Library from anywhere in the world (with internet access)! Don’t miss out on this awesome database!