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Points of Reference

A Booklist Blog
This is the archive of the blog Points of Reference. From 2009-2012 a team of library reference experts talked about resources (books, databases, Web sites, e-books, and more) and publishing trends.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010 10:30 am
What Reference Sources Are LIS Students Learning?
Posted by: Admin

Annie, the publishing assistant I share with Booklist Media Editor Sue-Ellen Beauregard, is enrolled now in San Jose State's online MILS program, and this semester she's taking a reference sources class. The class has been working on the familiar  assignment of using standard reference sources to find answers to a list of questions. I was curious about the reference tools she was asked to look at and she shared the list with me.

Many of these are titles I would have used a gazillion years ago when I took a reference sources class, albeit in a different format (nothing electronic back then) or an earlier edition. Even when I left reference work there were very few online sources.  The titles on Annie's list are a mix--some only online, some strictly print, and some available both ways. It's interesting to see how much has changed and how much has remained the same in the toolkit of the reference librarian of the very near future.

Here's the list:

ABI/Inform Complete

Acronyms, Intitialisms, and Abbreviations Dictionary

American Factfinder

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

American History and Life

American Library Directory

American Medical Association Family Medical Guide

American National Biography

American Reference Books Annual

America's Top Rated Cities

Associations Unlimited

Atlas of American Politics, 1960-2000

Atlas of Medieval Europe

Atlas of the Holocaust

Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations

Books in Print

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Britannica Book of the Year

Chase's Calendar of Events

CIA World Factbook

Columbia Gazetteer of the World

Concise Columbia Encyclopedia

Contemporary Authors

Credo Reference

Current Biography Yearbook

Dictionary of American Biography

Dictionary of American Regional English

Dictionary of the Middle Ages

Emily Post Etiquette

Encyclopedia of Popular Music

Encyclopedia of Religion

Encyclopedia of the American Presidency


Europa World Year Book

Famous First Facts

Foundation Directory

Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Google Books

GPO Access

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia

Hammond Historical World Atlas

Historical Dictionary of American Slang (vols. 1-2)

Historical Statistics of the United States



Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

Lexis-Nexis Academic

Literary Market Place

Magazines for Libraries

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology

Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary

National Geographic web site

The New Fowler's Modern English Usage

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics

New York Times Obituary Index

Occupational Outlook Handbook

Oxford Art Online

Oxford English Dictionary

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection

Peterson's Four-Year Colleges

Physician's Desk Reference


Public Papers of the President


Rand McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide


Roget's International Thesaurus

Routledge Atlas of American History

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Statesman's Year Book

Statistical Abstract ofthe United States

Thomas Register of American Manufacturers

Times Atlas of the Second World War

Times Atlas of the World

Times Atlas of World History

Ulrich's International Directory of Periodicals

Value Line

Visual Dictionary

Weather Almanac

Web of Science

Whitaker's Almanac

Who's Who in America

World Almanac

World Book



3 Responses to “What Reference Sources Are LIS Students Learning?”
  1. Barbara Bibel Says:

    I'm surprised that they use the AMA Family Medical Guide when MedlinePlus is so much better and free. They have PubMed on the list though, but it is for deeper researchers.

  2. Dave Tyckoson Says:

    I am disturbed that reference is still being taught as a list of sources. Many of hte works on this list were -- and still are -- some of my favorites. But with access to the Web, I have not touched them in years. Reference should focus on process, not product. Sources change constantly, but the skills required to find out what a user wants remain constant.

  3. Richard Says:

    I agree with Dave - haven't used Stat Abstracts in ages. Knowledge of these (or other resources) is laudable, but not very effective or even necessary today. What does need to be taught is how to capture the essence of the question or inquiry - the reference interview - in the 'elevator speech' span of time we get nowadays.

    With that, the students need better discriminatory powers and the knowledge of how to search the deep web - the sources that aren't immediately given in a Google search. They also need to know how to use the blog searching tool and Google Books to get them moving in non-traditional but highly useful directions.

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