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World Religions: Books

An introduction to library resources on religions of the world, including reference books, books, videos, ebooks, periodical articles, and citing sources.


Using Books for Background Information

Books are the best library resources for comprehensive information.  They tend to cover issues in depth and at great length.  However, they are not as current as sources in periodicals or the internet.  They are excellent for obtaining background information on a topic and to develop a list of relevant keywords with which to search.

In order to use a book effectively, you may not need to read the entire book.  Browse the Table of Contents at the front of the book for chapter contents, and the index in the back of the book for the pages on which shorter amounts of information are located. 

Ask the librarian for assistance.

Library Locations


Elizabeth Sturm Library, Dandini Campus (the Main Library)

Redfield Branch, Health Science Center

Library Reference Collection 

Reference books are condensed, authoritative books such as encyclopedias.  Many reference books contain primary sources and original documents. 

General Collection  

Very large and very good collection, shelved mainly on the second floor of the Main Library.  Ask the Reference Librarians for assistance.  These books are allowed to leave the library.

Online Books in the Book and Video Catalog

To limit your search to online books, select ‘Advanced search.’  Select ‘Online Library’ on the Location line.  The title will include this phrase in brackets:  [electronic resource]. 

How to Read a Call Number

Here is a sample book record with its call number:

Breaking down the Library Location and Call Number:

The book is located in the Reference section, because it is composed of short chapters on each type of critter, suitable for photocopying.  Reference Books are not allowed to leave the Library.

The call number:

B                      Philosophy, Psychology, Religion

BL                    Religions, Mythology, Rationalism

2450                 Egyptian

.G                     Gods and Goddesses

W56                 Wilkinson (author)

2003                Date of publication


Finding Books in the Library Catalog Using Subject Headings

Subject headings are a particularly good way to search for information about religions because you already know what the name of the religion is.  Keyword searches work better for exploring an area where you are not yet sure of the appropriate terms. 

In order to search by subject heading, select "Subject  browse" in the Search within menu in the Library Catalog:

For example, enter "Buddhism."  The display gives a number of narrower terms.  For example, under Buddhism -- Doctrines, these are the results:

Library of Congress subject headings
  • subdivision Doctrines under names of Buddhist sects, e.g. Mahayana Buddhism--Doctrines; Rñiṅ-ma-pa (Sect)--Doctrines; Shin (Sect)--Doctrines

One of the books found with this search: