Back When I Was A Kid....There was this thing called a "copier" or a "Xerox machine" and if you wanted to take home something from the refrence section you had to pay a dime (or more) per page of copies, and too bad so sad if you effed up a copy! Oh, and most of 'em did NOT copy in color.
What do I mean, "refrence section"? Oh, sorry, my bad. It's the part of the library where refrence books like dictionaries and encyclopedias were kept. Those couldn't be checked out 'cause other people needed to use them.
What's an "encyclopedia"? Oh lordy.... An encyclopedia is a set of books covering a wide range of subjects. WorldBook was good, Encyclopedia Britanica was better. Yes, I guess you could say it was like Wikipedia...but without the dubious content. Yes, they did get outdated very quickly. That's why mostly only libraries had them.
What do you mean "what good is that??"? You went to the library and looked up what you needed, made your copies (usually praying that you had enough dimes!) and went home to write your paper. Simple as that!