The library has a number of reference works online and in print that offer biographical information and general interpretations of major works. Gale Literary Sources is the largest online collection, but I have listed a few others to give you a taste of what we have in the Reference collection in the JFK Library.
If you'd like an overview of an event or culture. Think Wikipedia-like, but entries are written by scholars. We have a number of specialized encyclopedias in print as well -- ask Ielleen for recommendations.
For contemporary authors, you can easily find interviews, readings, or talks given via YouTube.
We also have a database with thousands of documentaries.
We have a mix of eBook and print reference books for defining critical theories, literary terms, etc.
Print Reference Works