Essential Reference Survey
Posted by: Admin
A few months ago. Points of Reference did a survey based on David Tyckoson's presentation at the Booklist "Twentieth-First Century Reference Collections" webinar. During that webinar, David talked about how most of the print reference materials at his library at California State University, Fresno, have been moved to the circulating collection, and listed the handful of reference books that don't circulate. Our survey asked you to list which titles you've kept in your leaner, meaner reference collections, or which ones you would keep if you were downsizing.
Some of you listed specific titles, and some listed types. Here are the top titles (based on a rather unscientific count):
World Book Encyclopedia
MLA style guide
Statistical Abstracts of the United States
APA style guide
Physician's Desk Reference
Oxford English Dictionary (somewhat surprising given its size, price, and availability online)
Titles in the Gale literature sets were also frequently mentioned, as were various Consumer Reports guides.
As for types, the largest category by far was style manuals, followed by dictionaries (including desk dictionaries, unabridged dictionaries, and foreign language dictionaries), almanacs general encyclopedias, atlases, and medical dictionaries/encyclopedias. Since what titles are considered essential should be determined by local needs, local materials--code books, college directories, maps, phone books, state statutes, etc.-- were strongly represented. And numerous familiar titles were listed only once or twice, again reflecting local needs.
In 1998, shortly after I started working at Booklist, I did a similar survey. No SurveyMonkey back then; this one was conducted by way of a form published in Reference Books Bulletin and then faxed or mailed back to me. The question in 1998 wasn't what titles should be kept in a pared-down print reference collection, but what reference titles were the best performers. The top three titles in 1998? The still-essential Statistical Abstract of the United States, World Almanac and Book of Facts, and World Book Encyclopedia. Interestingly, style manuals barely got a mention.