Evaluating Reference Books

Examining new reference sources


Why was the book written? What is it intended to do? Does it really do that? Use the title, foreword or preface, introduction, table of contents and an examination of the text itself to help you determine the purpose.


Is the author qualified to write the book? Is the publisher reputable?


What does the book really cover? Does the dictionary cover only words currently in use, or does it contain obsolete words, too? Does the biographical dictionary include only dead people?


Who is the book written for? Is the medical book meant for the lay person or for a doctor? Is the encyclopedia for a child, or for an adult?


How is the book arranged? Does it have an index? Is it easy to use?

If time permits, it can be beneficial to examine one or two reference books in your collection each day. At the very least, you need to examine each new reference book you receive.

Complete the Evaluating Reference Books Practice Questions

Back to Examining New Reference Sources.

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Go to Almanacs.

Much of the text on parts of reference books is from LIBRARY SKILLS COURSE, Western Maryland Public Libraries.

This page was last updated on August 6, 2003.