What reference books do you think are indispensible?

Here's an interesting question we received today:

"What reference books do you think are indispensible to a
public library? Ie: if you were starting up a library for a community
from scratch, and had several thousand to order your core set of books - what things (err, books) would you get (assuming nothing was ever out of print, etc)"


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Almanac of American Politics

The Almanac of American Politics (I bought a used copy today) is pretty indispensable to any reference library, I think.

Most used titles where I work

Physician's Desk Reference PDR (known to patrons as "that drug book")
That book in ready reference that lists city, county, state and other US law enforcement contact information. We get calls from legal secretaries and the police department regularly for info from this book. I just can't remember the title.
World (or any) Almanac
NADA, Edmunds or Kelly value books for autos, motorcycles, motor homes and boats.
reference copies of Consumer Reports and buying guides
World Book Encyclopedia
Chase's Calendar of Events

The following are used more by desk staff than patrons:
Almanac of Famous People (used regularly to settle bar bets)
Columbia Gazeteer

My personal favorite is Mosby's Medical Dictionary because it has such cool color pictures.

stuff I'm leaning towards

The Structures of Everyday Life, Wheels of Commerce, Civilization & Capitialism; Defensible Space; Understanding Comics; Encyclopedia Astronautica; Roman Army: Wars of the Empire; On War; The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China; Eliade's Encyclopedia of Religion; The Synonym Finder; The History of Money; Modern Diplomacy; The Civil War And Reconstruction; The Armourer and His Craft; The Sword and the Centuries; Arabian Essays; The New Comprehensive American Rhyming Dictionary; Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting; Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association; The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual; The Chicago Manual of Style; The Elements of Style; Pruning and Training; Right Plant, Right Place; Strongest Strong's Exhustive Concordance; Bartlett's Familiar Quotations; Gray's Anatomy; The Science of Cooking; What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained; The Cookbook Decoder; The New Joy of Cooking; Moonshot; Atlas of the World, 10th Edition; Atlas of World History; Langer Encyclopedia (The Encyclopedia of World History); Encyclopedia of European Social History; The Wine Spectator's Ultimate Guide to Buying Wine; Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills; Handbook of Physics; Good Boatkeeping; New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual; Universal History of Numbers (OOP); Universal History of Computing (OOP?); Secrets of Computer Espionage: Tactics and Countermeasures;Non-books: Gutenberg classics CD set, OED on CD, Encyclopedia on CD, NetBible on CD.-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

desk staff

Would be included in the question above. Becuase it's setting up a library from scratch :)-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

Re:stuff I'm leaning towards

Very interesting list...but public library reference? You must have some very intriguing, intelligent patrons if these are indispensible! Lucky duck!

Re:Most used titles where I work

Let me add...
legal forms books for copying; state statutes; how-to books for self-service divorces (sadly, one of most widely used ref resources); "free money" books by that Infomercial guy, Matthew Lesko; Value Line; city codes or municipal ordinances; building, fire, electrical, etc. codes (BOCA?); Statistical Abstract; Countries of the World (although something very similar is offered online--World Fact Book at cia.gov); international cookbooks (a very widely-used resource when students have "country" projects and have to make something from their assigned country).

Oh, lord....I could go on and on. This is a good exercise!

:) (a smiley face you dumb filter)

I'm doing it to see what I *would* stock it with.Some of those are from my libraries, and some of those are unattainable at my (current) libraries.I'm just thinking not so much, what's *of* use, but what would be of use. Sometimes people don't use things because they don't know they are there.I wish my public library would put together a cool reference book of the week podium...ObTopic: Did I ever send you email?-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

Re::) (a smiley face you dumb filter)

"I wish my public library would put together a cool reference book of the week podium..."

That's a great idea!

"ObTopic: Did I ever send you email?"
You talkin' to me? (I'm sleep deprived and befuddled today).


Yeah, I'm just full of great ideas :PYes.-- Ender, Duke_of_URL


Nope. No email from da Duke. You need an addy?
rochelle at lisnews dot org

library reference

Don't forget a good celebrity address book like "The Address Book" by Michael Levine.

Syndicate content