If you are not sure where to start your research or if you want some basic background information on your topic, you may want to try a reference resource. Reference resources include books like encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauruses, and almanacs. When you can’t come into the library to use the print books, you can access a lot of this information online using the Gale Virtual Reference Library. If you need help finding background information, using Gale Virtual Reference Library, or even coming up with a topic, a Research Coach can help.
You can find a link to the Gale Virtual Reference Library on the Databases, E-books, and Media quick link on the library’s homepage. The databases are listed alphabetically, so scroll down until you see Gale Virtual Reference Library. This will give you the proper access as a Union student or employee (googling the database won’t do that).
Gale Virtual Reference Library has maps, encyclopedic entries of all types (cultural, historical, general, etc.), and dictionary entries. You can narrow your results by type of document, so if you only want maps, you can filter results for just maps. The type of document is also found underneath the results’ title in the search results list.
Another great feature of Gale databases is the reading level filter. Some Gale databases use a Lexile number where the higher the number, the higher the reading level. Others like Gale Virtual Reference Library use colored boxes with dots in them to show the reading levels. An orange box with five dots is geared for high school and above readers, while green with one dot is for early elementary readers. This can be a great way to filter results if you are wanting some simple background information or if you are looking for more technical information. You may also just filter for lower reading levels because you don’t want to go cross-eyed reading a college level text (we’ve all been there 😉). Don’t forget to schedule a Research Coach appointment if you want assistance with research or using Gale Virtual Reference Library; we are more than happy to help.