Encyclopedias are good sources of review articles written for a general audience, and they're a great way to gather background and literature references on a topic that is new to you. Most of our encyclopedias are in print only - meaning that, yes, you have to visit the library to use them. Once you get over the shock of that, they are fairly easy to use. Just consult the Index that occupies the last volume of each set, and be ready to look up synonyms if you don't find the topic listed under your preferred term.
Handbooks are one-volume compilations of useful tables and text that serve as a shortcut to important factual data and techniques. If you need a literature value or information about an instrument, reagent chemical, indicator, or specific technique, a handbook is a good first place to look.
The main encyclopedias and handbooks in analytical chemistry and their call numbers are listed in the Analytical Chemistry Pathfinder. You can also browse the shelves in the Chemistry Library's reference section in the call number area QD 75-QD 131 and locate them that way.
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