Understanding Reference Universe: 1975-2019

Reference Universe is a research database designed to explore authoritative introductory literature – the vast specialized encyclopedia collection within your own library. It provides researchers with a place to start on any research topic, simplifying the process of finding just the right book or journal article.

Begin your research with confidence.

New Interdisciplinary Discoveries

A Brief Introduction...


For a quick 2-minute overview on what Reference Universe has to offer your library, watch this video.


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Data Unique to Reference Universe


Reference Universe contains millions of back-of-the-book index terms to specialized subject encyclopedias. This kind of detail is available in no other service.


This means your prized Major Reference collection can be seen and used in a way never possible.


This vast dataset, in concert with the millions of article-level links to electronic Major Reference titles, gives both a granular and collection-level view of your library’s finest introductory materials.


Browse Your Virtual Shelf


With the icon feature, users can “walk the shelves” of your library’s online and print reference collection, organized via Library of Congress Classification.


Another benefit of this browse view is to refine your LC classification requests or scroll through adjacent titles. These browse features increase the discovery of proximate titles that might better suit the researcher’s needs.

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Improve Your Collection with

Non-Local Results


Non-Local Results benefits both library administrators and the researcher.

The Non-Local Results tab produces a list of titles relevant to the search query but that your library does not own. This utility, when combined with the research trend statistics found in Collection Analysis, can influence your library’s reference collection development.

Additionally, the Non-Local Results option serves the researcher looking to take advantage of your local Interlibrary Loan Service.


What Our Customers Say ...

My advice is to subscribe to Reference Universe, use it, and teach its use regularly. Users will be amazed at the quantity and quality of information they can find at your reference collection! - Managing the 21st Century Reference Collection
Reference Universe has allowed the University of Maryland Libraries to maintain access to and awareness of useful reference titles during an extensive weeding project of our very large reference collection. Reference Universe offers one stop shopping for a collection that is now spread around the libraries and the Web. - University of Maryland
We don’t know what’s in our reference collections, print or electronic. Reference Universe makes the connection for us. - Don Hartman, University at Buffalo (SUNY)

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