Use this guide to quickly find reputable sources and save time on your research! Contact your subject librarian or the reference librarians if you need more help. For an overview of how to research efficiently, see Steps of the Research Process.

Finding Materials in the Library

Search CityCat to find books, e-books, disks and more. There are many ways to search, such as Title, Author and Keyword.

Books in the library are organized by call number according to the Library of Congress classification system which groups items by subject, so you can often simply browse the shelves. Here are some relevant subjects: Religion, Religion and Politics, Religion and Science, Buddhism, Islam, Islam – United States, Prayer, Aguaruna Indians -- Religion.    Here are some additional subject headings with their call number range:

Religions. Mythology. Rationalism BL1-2790
Judaism BM1-990
Islam, Bahai Faith. Theosophy, etc BP1-610
Buddhism BQ1-9800
Christianity BR1-1725
The Bible BS1-2970
Doctrinal Theology BT10-1480
Practical Theology BV1-5099
Christian Denominations BX1-9999


Reference Sources

Reference books are great for short overviews and background information. There are also reference resources in our database section.

Man, myth, and magic: the illustrated encyclopedia of mythology, religion, and the unknown. Richard Cavendish, editor in chief. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2000. BF 31 E52 2000 Vols. 1-8 Rosenberg Reference

The Oxford dictionary of world religions. John Bowker, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. BL 31 084 1997 Rosenberg Reference

Atlas of the world’s religions. Ninian Smart, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. G 1046 .E4 A8 1999 Rosenberg Reference.

Taking sides. Clashing views on controversial issues in religion. Daniel K. Judd, ed. Guilford, CT: McGraw-Hill, Dushkin, c2003. H61 .T3577 2003 Rosenberg Reference.

The encyclopedia of American religious history. Edward L. Queen. New York, NY: Facts On File, c1996. BL 2525 .Q44, 1996 Rosenberg Reference

Encyclopedia of American religion and politics . Paul A. Djupe and Laura R. Olson. New York: Facts On File, c2003. BL 2525 .D58 2003 Rosenberg Reference.

Electronic Reference Sources from the CCSF Ebooks collection

For more information about eBooks go to:

Encyclopedia of religious rites, rituals, and festivals 2004

Encyclopedia of new religious movements 2006

Encyclopedia of women and religion in North America 2006

A popular Dictionary of Buddhism 1997

Who's who in the Old Testament together with the Apocrypha 2002

The Quran : an encyclopedia 2006


Use databases for specialized and the most up-to-date information, especially academic (scholarly) sources that are not available for free on the Web. See the Articles & Databases page for a full list of databases available.

Periodical databases group together journal, magazine, and newspaper articles by subject. They also usually provide abstracts (brief summaries) and the full text of the articles. Do you need help identifying the differences between scholarly journal v. popular magazine articles?

Note: Most periodical databases are part of the private, passworded Web, so you will need to have a current CCSF ID card with a barcode to access those that CCSF subscribes to. All current CCSF Student ID cards should already have a barcode. More information about obtaining a library bar code.

Gale PowerSearch
Gale Powersearch is a brand name for several databases with coverage from 1980 to the present. Most relevant for religion topics is InfoTrac’s Religion & Philosophy database which covers topics in the areas of both religion and philosophy. InfoTrac’s Expanded Academic ASAP and OneFile databases also have useful materials. These databases let you limit your results to articles only from scholarly journals by checking the box "Refereed titles."

Literature Resource Center
Literature Resource Center has traditional reference works, critical information on authors and their works, and current journal articles. It is valuable for biographical information on authors of works relating to religion, and for critical information on both an individual work and an author’s body of work

CQ Researcher
CQ provides lengthy research reports written by the editorial staff of the Congressional Quarterly Co. There are many reports related to religion. Some examples are Religion in America, Evolution versus Creationism, Prayer and Healing, and Religious Persecution. There are also reports on related moral or ethical issues such as issues of reproductive ethics, teaching values, assisted suicide, designer humans, and the ethics of war.

Ethnic Newswatch
Ethnic Newswatch is comprised of newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press in America. Search here for ethnic aspects of topics related to religion.


Use websites for government information, statistics and current events. It's very important to carefully evaluate websites for accuracy, currency, bias and credibility.

Web Resources for General Reference

Virtual Religion Index
An extensive and well organized index of Web resources with useful annotations that speed the targeting and process of research.  From Rutgers University.

Voice of the Shuttle – Religious Studies Page
Links to resources including general studies, specific religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikkism, etc.), nonreligious views (Atheism, Agnosticism), issues of law and religion, society and religion, and religious studies courses and departments.  From the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Encyclopedia of Religion and Society
“Full text online of the Encyclopedia, with table of contents, covering the spectrum of religions.”  The Encyclopedia of Religion and Society is from the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, and its editorial board is comprised of a number of respected sociologists of religion.

The Internet Sacred Text Archive
“a freely available archive of electronic texts about religion, mythology, legends and folklore, and occult and esoteric topics”  Particular focus is on believers’ (defined very broadly) sacred texts, including both primary and secondary materials.