Encyclopedias can provide background information and lead you to other sources. Many encyclopedia entries have references at the end of the entry that lead you to useful sources. So, if you find a reference to an article you'd like to track down, you can use the Find By Citation tool to see if Cline Library has the full-text. If you find a reference to a book, check for it in the Quick Search.
Note: Be careful about using information directly from a Wikipedia article because you do not know who the authors are or how much expertise they have. Instead, check the references list at the end of a Wikipedia article and use those.