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How are the entries for Dicken's works, and the books about
Dickens arranged? Tennyson? Ohio? Make a complete list of the books in the catalogue under one
of the following subjects: Washington City, Tobacco,
Citizenship, Norway, Vocational guidance, Ulysses S. Grant. Make a list of the subdivisions of the subjects, Botany,
and Education. What difference does it make in a catalogue if waterworks
is written as one or as two words? Examine some subject in the card catalogue and also in the
Reader's Guide and note number and arrangement of entries in each case.
By reference books we usually mean such publications as dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers,and atlases; books that have been written with a view of providing information on one or more subjects and arranged so that each topic may be easily found. By reference work we mean assistance rendered in aid of study or research; or, to be more specific, help given in the matter of looking up information in books, selecting lists of books for study, compiling lists of references, and similar work. In actual reference use there is no distinct line between so-called reference books and other books, for if the information wanted is not found in a reference book, the next step is to find it in some other book. But in general the purpose of the reference book is to provide a ready means of finding the kind of information wanted most frequently in libraries.
Books of this type are not of recent origin; they may traced back to the literature of ancient Greece or Rome. Some were written during the middle ages. But the old books were not so well arranged for ready reference as our modern books. Within recent years the number of such books has increased very rapidly, especially those treating the literature of special subjects. In nearly every case, the newer books are accurate and well arranged so that different topics are easily found.
Collections of reference books are smaller or larger according to the size of the library, differing to some extent even in libraries of practically the same size. This is due to the fact that the demands are not the same; but nevertheless, many of the general reference books are common to all libraries. Magazines, journals and newspapers are great sources for information. They may not all be shelved with the reference col
Arnett, Elements of Library Methods.
lection but many of the magazines and the file of at least one good newspaper should be near at hand. The technical journals and those devoted to special subjects are not usually shelved with the reference books; in the large libraries, they are often included in special reference collections or departmental libraries.
Bibliographies and lists of references should form part of the collection. They are time savers, and every reference list of importance compiled in connection with the work should be saved. General, or trade bibliographies, that is, catalogues of the books published in a country may also be used in reference work because the books are listed under subjects.
The collection of reference books should be limited to those which are most useful in answering the many questions asked at the library desk. The most important for a school or public library are named in the list that follows, but others might have been included. For a library on some special subject, however, a majority of the books would probably be of a different character.
Study of Reference Books.
A knowledge of reference books is helpful to any one who expects to do much work in a library and is especially helpful to a college student. It means a saving of time, as
a certain feeling of satisfaction in knowing how to use a library.
The study of reference books consists primarily in an examination of the character, purpose, and arrangement of the subject matter of each work. As this is done, a note should be made of the author, publisher, date, and other characteristics of the work, including illustrations and bibliographies The author usually tells in the preface the purpose of the book and frequently something of his method of writing it.
source for information the periodicals are second only to the books of a library. For information on some topics the librarian will use the index to periodicals exclusively, and