Reference books are usually encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, atlases, etc. They are intended to provide quick, reliable information, summaries of complex matters, and, very importantly, bibliographies--suggestions for futher reading.
These reference materials are invariably written by experts in their fields, so they are more trustworthy than Wikipedia--all have gone through a process of editorial review. For an illustrated explanation, see the home page presentation, "What is a referred or scholarly article?"
Note: Many reference sources are available full-text, online.
Dictionary of Art
The best scholarly dictionary for all aspects of fine and applied arts, including design and architecture. Current. Now online!
All print reference sources are located on the Main level, Du Bois Library