The encyclopedia as a reference tool has a rich history, dating back to the eighteenth century (Cassell 73). Designed to provide "succinct, user-friendly information" about a wide range of topics, the encyclopedia is the place where a researcher comes to access a broad overview and general description of a particular subject (Cassell 73).
The encyclopedias listed below are considered specialized subject encyclopedias (Cassell 87). They tend to focus on a particular subject area, such as business or nonprofits, and provide insight through the lens of that particularly field of study. These works supply "relatively in-depth information on a highly specific topic" (Cassell 87).
Encyclopedias are arranged alphabetically by subject term so knowing what topic you are searching for aids in the usefulness of this resource.
Cassell, Kay Ann, and Uma Hiremath. Reference and Information Services. American Library Association, 2013.
Handbooks are reference books that focus on a specific subject area (Lamb). Unlike encyclopedias and dictionaries that are arranged alphabetically, handbooks are typically arranged by subject which makes browsing them more informative and research friendly (Lamb).
Lamb, Annette. "Reference Sources." Advanced Information Sources Cluster, 2017, http://eduscapes.com/cluster/4.htm. Accessed 26 Jun 2017.