This bibliography is intended to help those setting out to conduct library research in recent architecture or landscape architecture. Focus here is on the types of topics frequently chosen by students in Penn State's design programs. These topics tend toward the interdisciplinary. This is primarily a list of reference books, databases and websites. These items are not ones that you list in the footnotes or bibliography of a research presentation. Instead, they are tools which can help you improve your bibliography. The list is divided by tool-types. Each section begins with an explanation of the type. The names of these formats are not used consistently by publishers and librarians, nor are the names important. But understanding the type of tool, and how it can be used, is useful indeed.
Specialized encyclopedias are fine places to get a quick start on solving many kinds of problems. They synthesize a lot of other published information. Reading a brief summary of a topic, at the beginning of your exploration, can help you make better choices as your research progresses. The best encyclopedias refer you to the essential literature on each subject (usually with brief bibliographies at the end of each entry.) Many large encyclopedias have entries on general topics, and access to more specific subjects through an index at the back. They usually feature writers who are recognized authorities.
Biographical dictionaries can be similar to encyclopedias, except that the only type of entries in biographical dictionaries will be the names of people. Like encyclopedias, many of the best ones refer you to some other sources of information.
Handbooks are manuals that attempt to summarize good practices as they are observed in some professional or scholarly endeavor. They usually describe a process functionally, so that even an outsider can understand the basic procedures. These explanations are usually documented with citations to published case studies or methodological discussions.