See a guide to using the library for teaching, classwork, and research during the coronavirus outbreak: https://guides.library.msstate.edu/coronavirus
An encyclopedia is a good place to get background information on a particular topic and to identify relevant key ideas and sources. Sometimes entries will also include a bibliography of additional relevant sources. Dictionaries will define terms but will not include a bibliography.
The following are examples of dictionaries and encyclopedias found in the Research Services department of Mitchell Memorial Library (located to the right of the stairs when coming in from the drill field).