Our online reference shelves

Our online reference shelves
Find an answer through Oxford University Press eResources
26 September 2016

Are you looking for quick, authoritative, online answers to your questions? Perhaps you just have a curious nature?

These three diverse reference eResources from Oxford University Press are just what you need.

 Four boys sitting on brick wall reading books

Fairfax Corporation, Four young boys reading books on top of a stone wall during health week at school, New South Wales  ca. 1930  nla.obj-162139840

1. Oxford Reference

Oxford Reference provides full text access to a wide range of dictionaries, encyclopaedias and companions published by Oxford University Press.

 Oxford Reference Logo

You'll find concise answers in a range of subject dictionaries, as well as in-depth discussions. Subjects covered are broad and include literature, law, language, history, science, technology, and social sciences. This breadth of content makes it perfect for school and university assignments.  

Our catalogue contains records with online links for all titles in Oxford Reference you can access through the Library.   

Handy hint: If you are searching within the entire Oxford Reference database, select the option to ‘show titles in my subscription’ from the database homepage to limit your search to just those resources available from the National Library. 

Handy Hint image Oxford Reference 

2. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) is a treasure trove detailing the fascinating lives of Britons who died in or before the year 2012. It is perfect for the biographical researcher or just the casual curious browser.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography logo

First published between 1885 and 1928 the first Dictionary of National Biography for Britain contained entries on over 29,000 people. Today it is over twice this size, available online, and includes portraits and links to valuable external online resources. Intriguing extras include the themed lives, such as the Women's Social and Political Union (act. 1903–1914) and Olympic title-holders.

Even though it is a dictionary of British lives, it does contain biographies of people with Australian connections. These include Frederick Septimus Kelly (1881-1916) Australian born composer, soldier and gold medal Olympian; and John Anderson (1893–1962) born in Lanarkshire Scotland who became Professor of Philosophy at Sydney University in 1926.   

 John Anderson

Fairfax Corporation, Professor John Anderson, Professor of Philosophy at Sydney University, New South Wales, ca. 1926, nla.obj-160680916

Handy hint: to expand your research further across the Atlantic, take a look at the American National Biography Online.   

3. Oxford English Dictionary Online

Are you wondering what a ‘starchitect’  is or when the word ‘besom’ entered into English? 

Look no further than the Oxford English Dictionary Online (OED), widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. 

Oxford English Dictionary Online logo

More than just a dictionary of present day meanings, the OED is a guide to the history and pronunciation of over 600,000 words, past and present, from across the English-speaking world. Over 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books, track the history of individual words.

Oxford English Dictionary mashup image

1st February 1884 - Oxford English Dictionary (part one) published by Bradford Timeline. Licenced under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic (CY BY.NC 2.0)

In addition to an A-Z listing of word meanings, you can explore word categories and timelines, top author and work sources as well as an historical thesaurus.  

The OED is now so famous it is the subject of popular histories. You can explore its fascinating history in the following items from our collection:

Fun fact:  JRR Tolkien worked as an assistant on the OED between 1919 and 1920.  He worked on words at the beginning of the letter ‘W’, including ‘waggle and ‘walrus’.  He later naturally worked on the definition of the word ‘hobbit’.   

How can I access these fantastic databases?

They are available onsite at the National Library, and registered National Library readers can access them from home with a Library card. Register for a Library card for free.

Need help?    

Need help with any of the Oxford eResources or our other eResources? Ask a Librarian.

You can also read our other eResources blogs:

You've listed some quite worthwhile resources here. Can I suggest you include reference to the Commonwealth Department of Finance and Administration's "Style Manual."