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Reference Books: Print & Online

Finding Information from a Reference

Reference materials are compilations; a "reference" connects a researcher to background information in a way that is intended to be found quickly when needed. Reference materials can be dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies, handbooks and guides, catalogs, atlases and maps, directories, almanacs – even the internet.

Using OU Libraries' Catalog

Although the library guide you currently read is considered a reference material, the following lists are not comprehensive. Check the OU Libraries Discover catalog to connect to even more resources. Think about the keywords you would use to search the catalog; for general books containing definitions of terms or overviews of a subject, search for your keywords plus "encyclopedia" or "dictionary." Want reference assistance? Reach out to the STEM Services team at

Looking for a reference on citation style? Visit the Citations page of the guide.

Finding Books in the Library by Call Number

Books are located in Bizzell Memorial Library in the following call number locations.

Library of Congress Call Numbers for Biology:

Call Number Range Topic
QH 1-278 Natural History
QH 301-705 Biology General
QH 426-470 Genetics
QH 471-489 Reproduction
QH 540-549 Ecology
QH 573-671 Cell Biology
QL 1-355 Zoology General
QL 360-599 Invertebrates / Insects
QL 614-639 Fishes
QL 640-669 Birds
QL 671-739 Mammals
QL 750-795 Animal Behavior
QP Physiology
QR Microbiology
S Agriculture
SF Animal Culture
SH Aquaculture
SK Hunting/Wildlife

What's new about the catalog? See if the library has a copy of your class's textbook! 

Textbooks on Reserve and course reserve materials are now searchable by course code (ex. HIST 3403), course name (ex. Modern Israel), title (ex. Quiet Street), or author. Some materials are searchable by professor last name (ex. Seidelman). Students can search the catalog or the new Textbook Search Scope (located under the Search Scope drop-down menu).

Screenshot of OU Libraries catalog website, "Search Scope" dropdown menu showing textbooks

Biology and Biodiversity

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Biomedical Science, Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Animal Physiology & Behavior


How to Search for Information on Insects

For insects in general, there are so many different species (even in a given family, there may be hundreds of thousands to millions!) that searching for larger groups, like the genus, family, or order, can help. So, I would start using just the family name, which will end with the suffix -idae. (Info on how these different names are ordered is here.) When searching for the family in the catalog doesn’t bring up much, go to the order. Often if something is about the family or order and they don’t say it’s specific to whatever species, it may be relevant to your species.

Words to look for about the insect's habits will include "life history", "natural history", "behavior/behaviour", "habitat", "ecosystem", "ecology", and "evolution". Words to look for in the titles or subjects that may get you more drawings are “morphology”, “taxonomy”, “keys”, and "identification" for external anatomy. (Keys are a formal way of identifying animals and plants that involves choices, so these choices often require illustrations.) Borror and Delong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects has many technical drawings of various insect families and will have citations that may refer you to more detailed works on your insect's order. Scholarly articles on insects in the same order, family, or genus may include drawings of the anatomy, especially if the article is about taxonomy, morphology, or identification.

For the insect's internal organs, check out a textbook like “The Insects: an outline of entomology” which we have on reserve. You can also search with the subject heading insects for more textbooks. Since you are looking for more drawings, many of the older textbooks may have good illustrations as well. Internal organ diagrams will usually be for insects in general; only very well-studied organisms like grasshoppers or honeybees MIGHT have a drawing specific to that family or order.

Using Multiple Names in One Search

You may want to search for multiple names at once (family, a species or variety name, or order). "Smooth Operator" – a library tutorial video – will describe how to use the "OR" operator to chain together multiple names in a search. The "Reference Basics" tab contains a link to the OU Libraries catalog, and you can find library databases under "Searching for Sources" in the left-hand menu.

Common Names

The Entomological Society of America has created the Common Names of Insects Database: "The ESA Common Names database is an essential reference for anyone who works with insects. It includes more than 2,000 common names and is searchable by common name, scientific name, author, order, family, genus, and species."