Close reading depends very heavily on paying close attention to the text in front of you.
It does not require the use of outside sources, including the work of other literary critics.
However, there are still some library resources you may want to consider using.
Why use the OED?
The OED is not just a list of definitions but a historical record of the English language. It compiles senses from throughout the life of a word.
This means that you can use it to find out what a word meant at the time it was used, and how it's changed since then.
What's in the OED?
Are there any guides to using the OED?
I find the list of abbreviations particularly helpful.
Literary dictionaries can help you to:
Author-Specific Reference Works
Many authors have dictionaries and encyclopedias devoted to them specifically. These works may do several different things:
Author-specific reference works can be found in the Reference section of the Library (Floor #3) or online.
To find them, search for the author as subject in the catalog and look for subheadings like "encyclopedias."
Biographies can give you a sense of where the author was coming from and what was going on during her or his life.
Critical biographies are especially good, because they look specifically at an author's work and how biography may have influenced it.
You may also want to search for book-length biographies of authors. These could be print or electronic.