Reference Section Finder

This resource is intended to help you understand why the OHSU Library Reference Collection is divided into sections and how to find what you need.

To locate a specific title in the Reference Collection you will need the section number and the call number, which are both found in the catalog.

Dictionaries - Section 1

The dictionary section contains a wide range of medical, scientific, and general-interest dictionaries.

See Section 6 for foreign language dictionaries.

Areas of Interest

  • English language
  • Science
  • Specific medical disciplines (orthopedics, pediatrics, sports medicine, audiology…)
  • Specific science disciplines (statistics, physics, biochemistry…)

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • What is a prone board?
  • What do you call it when you are afraid of ghosts?
  • Where is a picture of an ingrown toenail?
  • What does false positive mean?
  • Define cost conscious consumer behavior.

Syndromes - Section 2

A syndrome is a group of symptoms that collectively characterize a disease, a psychological disorder, or other abnormal condition. In genetics, a syndrome is a pattern of multiple malformations thought to be pathogenically related.

Books in this section are a specialized type of dictionary.

Areas of Interest

  • Catalogs of birth defects or genetic disorders.
  • Eponymic syndrome dictionaries.

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • What’s the Madonna-Harlot Syndrome?
  • How will trisomy 21 affect my child?
  • What is floppy baby syndrome?

Nomenclature & Terminology - Section 4

How is this section different from dictionaries? The format is not word followed by definition. In these books words are ordered in classification schemes such as DSMIV (psychiatric disorders)
ICD-9 (general diseases) and TNM (tumors.)

Areas of Interest

  • Medical terminology
  • Medical usage
  • Origins of medical words
  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Disease and procedure code books (those numbers on insurance forms)

Sample questions for this type of resource  

  • What does a nurse's notation VO mean on a patient's chart?
  • How do you classify the procedure "laparoscopic appendectomy?"
  • What does the acronym FFI mean?

Writing - Section 5

This section is out of scope for a medical library, but we do have a few items.

Areas of Interest

  • Collections of quotations, both general and medical
  • Commonly quoted sources such as the Bible and Shakespeare
  • Thesauri
  • Grammar and Usage
  • Style manuals (for papers, dissertations, resumes)
  • Writing and publishing

Location Note: The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is on the stand at the counter opposite this section.

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • What's another way of saying cynical?
  • Someone wants a definition of the slang term ratfink.
  • I need a quotation about hay fever.
  • How do I cite a Web site?

Foriegn Language Dictionaries - Section 6

Old dictionaries of less commonly used languages (Portuguese, Czech, etc.) are in the Main Library stacks but do not circulate. Search "dictionaries" in the Library catalog under Subject Search-Medical Headings.

Areas of Interest

  • Medical dictionaries in German, Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, and Chinese
  • General dictionaries in Latin, Russian, Spanish, and French
  • Communication tools for medical personnel

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • In taking the medical history of a Danish patient, how do you say, "Are you allergic to anything?"
  • How can I explain intubation in Spanish?
  • What expression in German means heart attack?

Travel - Section 7

The subject "travel" is outside the scope for a medical library, but we do have a few items.


  • AAA travel books
  • Maps
  • Oregon geography books
  • Health information for international travel
  • Science and medicine meetings directories
  • Atlases (general and road)
    N.B. Atlases, due to their size, lie flat opposite Section 7.

Sample Query

  • What shots do I need before my trip to Afghanistan?
  • I'd like to study pharmacology in Egypt. Are there any scholarships available?
  • Are there any CME courses on pain management being offered in Hawaii this year?

Guidelines - Section 9

The word manual or guide in a reference book's title doesn't necessarily mean it goes here. This section is best understood by browsing.

Areas of Interest

  • Care plans
  • Guidelines, standards, protocols (for medical research and health care)
  • Accreditation manuals for health care organizations

Sample questions for this type of resource 

  • What is the American Academy of Pediatrics policy on bike helmets?
  • Do you have a nursing care plan for bulimia patients?
  • Does anyone publish a standard for hydrotherapy pool infection control?

Legal Information - Section 10

Much legal information is outside the scope of a medical library. This section has legal information related to medical care and to libraries and publishing.

Areas of Interest

  • Legal and ethical practices
  • Patent issues
  • Copyright issues

Sample questions for this type of resource 

  • What is my liability as a nurse in a critical care unit?
  • What controls should be in effect for a surgical "Placebo" procedure?
  • What are the guidelines with respect to Oregon's "Death with Dignity Act"?

Almanacs and Statistics - Section 11

Looking for that illusive fact or figure? This section is a good place to start. Beware though! How up to date is the information? Books in this section will often suggest agencies to contact or Web sites to visit for more current information.

Sample Resources

  • Data from organizations, Web sites, etc.
  • Books on how to compile and analyze statistics
  • Statistics for Oregon, U.S., the World
  • Statistics on smoking, cancer, organ transplants, teen pregnancy...

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • How many kidney transplants were done 1997?
  • What's the average cost of carpal tunnel surgery?
  • I'd like to compare physician income by age.
  • I need a graphic comparing the number of back surgeries among the states.

Subject Handbooks - Section 12

Browse with your "hands" to get to know this category. These books a person in the field might want "handy.". You will find books covering diagnosis, tests, treatment and protocols for research.

Sample Selections

  • Nursing
  • General medicine
  • Science (statistics, bioengineering, chemistry, biology, microbiology)
  • Specific areas of medicine (pediatrics, geriatrics, disabilities)
  • General (careers, nutrition)

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • Where can I buy a copy of the Adolescent Drinking Index?
  • How much protein is in an oreo?
  • Where will I locate a picture of facial vitiligo?
  • What is the composition of human milk?
  • What is butane's molecular formula?

Complementary and Alternative Medicine - Section 13

Alternative medicine encompasses a wide range of analyses, therapies, treatments and instruments, some of which have been incorporated into traditional "Western Medicine". The scope and variety of the collection in this section makes for interesting browsing.

Sample Resources

  • Acupuncture
  • Plants
  • Natural products
  • Chinese herbal medicine
  • Alternative therapies

Sample questions for this type resource

  • What are the pharmacological properties of witch hazel?
  • Is there scientific evidence that the Coley Toxins are useful in treating cancer?
  • Where can I study Ayurvedic medicine?
  • What are the physiological effects of laughter?

Drug Information - Section 14

Resources found in this section address issues of the legitimate prescription of drugs as well as extensive resources germane to the coverage of the medical intervention required with drug abuse.

Public health employees, physicians, nurses, educators and others will find this section both valuable and useful.

Sample Resources

  • Medicines (from the perspective of the doctor, nurse, pharmacist and patient)
  • Poisoning and toxicology (from chemicals, drugs, pollutants, mushrooms, stings)
  • Drug manufacturing, testing, interactions, side effects, abuse

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • Is licorice bad for you?
  • What are the benefits and risks of using pesticides?
  • What should I know about aspirin before I take it?
  • W hat is the principal negative, side-effect from taking Diltiazem?

General directories - Section 15

Looking for an address or phone number for a hospital, school, clinic, organization, government agency or company?

Looking for a person? See section 16. Books with both people and places tend to be n section 15.

Sample Resources

  • Licensing procedures
  • Family service
  • Graduate programs
  • Books in print: titles; subjects
  • Aging Resources

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • Is there a hospice in Tillamook?
  • I want to be a P.A.
  • Can I train in Oregon?
  • What's the address of the Medicine Hat Hospital in Canada?

Biographical Directories - Section 16

This section is about people, both living and dead: how to locate them, and general information about them.

Sample Resources

  • Historical figures in science and medicine
  • Publications of significant individuals
  • Indices to portraits and obituaries

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • Who won the first Nobel prize in medicine?
  • Where might I find a picture of Michael Beshoar, a 19th century American physician?
  • When and how did Dr. John Wallace Lyle die?

Bibliographies and Histories - Section 17

Histories and bibliographies of science, medicine, and specific disciplines.

Sample Resources

  • Medical milestones
  • Medical histories
  • Bibliographies and classics in medicine
  • Encyclopedias of medical history
  • History of science

Sample questions for this type of resource 

  • Who first discovered lead poisoning?
  • Do you have a picture of the discoverer of gonorrhea?
  • What was the correct title of Freud's work on dreams?

Library, Computer and Internet Information - Section 19

"How-to" manuals (for software and hardware, databases and the Web).

Areas of Interest

  • Library and information industry statistics, directories, and tools
  • Books about a wide-range of software
  • Guides for operating systems
  • Programming
  • Databases (by subject)
  • HTML and other Web resources

Sample questions for this type of resource:

  • How do I use the SPSS software?
  • Is there a database for anthropology literature?
  • I have to have nursing subject headings for my article to get it published. Where is a list?

Funding - Section 20

This section has many useful resources for the potential grant writer. One is able to locate many funding sources with the procedures for application thereto.

Areas of Interest

  • Scholarship and research grant directories
  • Foundation, individual, and government grantors
  • Application manuals
  • Grant recipients

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • How do I write a research grant application?
  • Is there a list of foundations who fund health care research in Oregon?
  • Are there nursing scholarships for Native Americans?

Encyclopedias - Section 21

Many general and specific encyclopedias relating to medicine are located in this section. Britannica is in the bookcase opposite section 7.

Areas of Interest

  • Human behavior
  • Geriatrics
  • Virology
  • Bioethics
  • Cancer
  • Reproduction
  • Nutrition

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • Is there something short that summarizes the issue of impaired professionals?
  • Can I get hurt working for a beer brewer?
  • I need a summary of the ethics of euthanasia but I only have five minutes.

Textbooks - Section 22

One or two of the best books in each major discipline of medicine and nursing. Textbooks are useful both for quick lookups and as a starting place for in-depth research.

Areas of Interest

  • Many academic disciplines are extensively covered from " allergies" to "tropical infections"
  • Internal medicine
  • Nursing school collection at end of Section 22
  • Pathology
  • Surgery

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • Is there a nursing textbook which has a section on sutures?
  • Where is Harrison's?
  • I need a book chapter on dengue fever.

Consumer Health - Section 23

Books primarily written from lay to comprehensive levels for patients, the family of patients and the public.

Areas of Interest

  • Cancer
  • Caregivers
  • Chronic diseases
  • Diet
  • Diseases
  • Drugs
  • Fitness
  • Genetic disorders
  • General health and medical guides: Merck, Mayo Clinic
  • University medical letters

Sample questions for this type of resource

  • I need advice on how to find the best doctor.
  • How painful is a spinal tap?
  • Where do I find information about lung cancer?