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Types of Library Materials

This guide will help you distinguish between different types of library materials including books, reference books, eBooks, magazines, and journals.

Source Overview

Information comes to us from many different sources, and your everyday information approaches and resources might not be enough to get your through college. It is important to master some new resources as you write and research for your assignments. Here is an overview to help with making sense of benefit and difference between some key types of library materials and how best to use them.

Reference Works

Background or Reference Works: 
 The best resource to find a concise overview or summary of a topic, written by a topic specialist. Often lists additional references.  We have both print and electronic reference works.

Example of a reference source:   

Boeing company, The. (2018). In Helicon (Ed.), The Hutchinson unabridged encyclopedia with atlas and weather guide. Helicon.


Often the most in-depth analysis of a topic will be available in a book. Reference sources will address a topic more broadly, while books will be more focused. Books may be intended for the general public or an academic audience. Academic books will be written by subject matter experts rather than journalists, etc. Books take longer to publish than periodicals, so articles may be more recent. OC Libraries offers both print and ebooks.

Example of a print book:

 Robison, Peter. Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing. Doubleday, 2021.

Haselwood Library - Bremerton, Main Collection - 2nd Floor 338.7/6291300973

Periodical Articles

Periodical Articles: 
There are different kinds of periodicals. Here are some of the key things you should know.


   Example of a newspaper article:

Tangel, Andrew. "Business News: Boeing Nears New Dreamliner Deliveries." Wall Street Journal, Jul 18, 2022.

This short article is written by a journalist and published in a newspaper with a code of ethics, fact checkers, an editorial staff, and a history of publishing retractions when errors are published. It is intended to be read by the general public. 


 Example of a trade publication article:

Pasquarelli, A. (2019). BIGGEST BRAND FAILS OF 2019: Rent the Runway’s stumbles, Marriott’s new loyalty program and Peloton’s holiday ad were some of the biggest misses in 2019Advertising Age90(24), 27.

Trade publications are generally written by people in a specific industry and the articles undergo an editorial process. This article was intended for people in the advertising industry. They are often very timely and can be useful for students.

    Example of a scholarly article:

Cioroianu, Iulia, et al. “Guilt through Association: Reputational Contagion and the Boeing 737-MAX Disasters.” Economics Letters, vol. 198, 2021, p. 1–, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econlet.2020.109657.

This article was written by the principle investigator of a research study, a computational scientist who holds a doctorate and has considerable expertise in this subject. It was peer-reviewed and approved by an editor before being published. The language is complex and it is densely written because it is intended for an audience of experts. Due to the review process peer-reviewed articles should be highly reliable information, written by subject matter experts.