Evaluating Reference Books

Know your reference books

Once you have verified the patron's question, you need to find the answer. There is no substitute for knowing the reference books you have in your collection. In fact, you should think of all the resources in your library and beyond as potential reference sources, whether or not they are cataloged as "reference books".

Many of the most important of these are covered in the MORE Manual, but what about others? What about new titles you receive? How can you quickly and efficiently learn to use those?

In order to use a reference tool, either one that you have seen but not had occasion to try, or a newly purchased one, you must approach the tool with an open but critical attitude. Don't take it for granted that because a reference book is in the library it is good, correct, or up-to-date. Libraries strive for that, but each tool has its shortcomings as well as strengths.

Commitment to learning about tools is vital. Unless you have a desire to learn what is in your reference collection you will not take the time to pick up and evaluate materials. Only by actually handling the book can you get a good sense of its usefulness.

When you pick up a reference book:

Go to Examining new reference sources.

Back to Evaluating and using new reference books.

Back to Model reference behaviors.

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This page was last updated April 30, 2003.