Finding basic information about your topic helps you to understand the broader context of your research. This is particularly important at the beginning of your research if you are unfarmliar with your topic or uncertain how to narrow the focus of the subject.
Background information can supply:
Types of resouces for background information : Encyclopedias, Guides, Handbooks, Manuals, etc.
Online access to a collection of online reference materials covering a wide array of subjects. (Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Handbooks, Guides, etc.)