Reference books are not intended to be read cover to cover. They're to be consulted for background, context, definition and outline, and they usually include brief but excellent bibliographies that point you to further research on the subject.
They're a great place to get quick info, or to get a basic grounding in something with which you may not be overly familiar.
We have many print reference books, but increasingly we're acquiring reference e-books that you can use from whereever you have internet connections.
NOTE: Most of Bethel's print reference books may be checked out for short periods.