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Reference Sources

This page contains information on useful reference tools for research projects. This is not a comprehensive list. Ask a librarian for additional sources.

Introduction to Reference Sources

A reference book is "a book containing comprehensive information about a subject or range of subjects, esp. one intended for research or consultation on specific matters rather than continuous reading" Oxford English Dictionary. (Find the OED ebook on the Dictionaries page in this guide.) In other words, use a reference source to get quick facts, an overview of a topic, or background information.

Young man with a book balanced on head carrying a stack of books. Wichita State University Libraries has many reference books, ebooks and other reference sources. Except for the Print Reference Shelf List page, this web guide is not intended to be a comprehensive list. New books are added to our collections every week! If you don't find what you need on these pages, please ask a librarian for help.

Catalog records in the Library Online Catalog will tell you how to locate each book. Some reference books in WSU collections are in the Reference Stacks in Ablah Library, while other books are located elsewhere in Ablah Library, one of our satellite libraries, or available electronically. Our satellite libraries are the Chemistry Library, located in 127 McKinley Hall and Thurlow Lieurance Memorial Music Library located in 313 Jardine Hall. Click here for a campus map and click here for a floor guide to Ablah Library.

A few reference books can be checked out, but most of the print books listed on these pages must be used in the building in which they are housed. But we have quite a few e-books, too! You must be a WSU student, faculty or staff member to read an e-book when off-campus.

Ask A Librarian

Come talk to a librarian in person at the Reference Desk on the first floor of Ablah Library. 

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What are some reasons to contact a librarian?

‚Äč      To find the best resources for your topic
      To discuss strategies and develop skills for searching article databases and the library catalog
      To identify and locate primary source materials


If a librarian is not available, you may also seek assistance from other library staff during library hours who will refer you to the appropriate librarian or department as necessary. 

See the full schedule of library hours including Reference Desk, presession, intersession, and holiday hours for the main library (Ablah) and for the Chemistry and Music branch libraries. Ablah Library hours are also available on an automated phone line: 316-978-3581.

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Chat with us or request a Zoom session via the adjacent chat box. Our chat service is staffed during Reference Desk hours
If chat is not available, send us a question via e-mail.

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   Reference Desk (Ablah Library)  316-978-3584

  Circulation Desk (Ablah Library) 316-978-3582

  Music Library  316-978-3029

  Interlibrary Loan  316-978-3167

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         Email a librarian with your question
         or fill out this form.

Subject Librarians are available to help students, faculty, and staff with their research and library instruction needs. Use the left-hand navigation tabs to find the librarian assigned to a particular subject or college. Contact your subject librarian for assistance or to schedule an appointment for a research consultation.

Wichita State University Libraries, 1845 Fairmount, Wichita, KS 67260-0068 | Phone: (316) 978-3481 | Comments/Suggestions | Facebook Instagram X YouTube Channel Federal Depository Library Program HathiTrust Digital Library Patent and Trademark Resources Centers