Making the Most of Your Library

Part 5 -- Ready-Reference Sources

Copyright 1990, 1998 by Leigh Kimmel

Originally appeared in SF&FW Newsletter #127, April 1992

For permission to quote or reprint, contact Leigh Kimmel

This article originally appeared in Science Fiction & Fantasy Workshop Newsletter

Librarians frequently lump together a number of kinds of sources under the catch-all rubric of ready-reference sources. These include almanacs and yearbooks, handbooks and directories.

Almanacs and yearbooks are annual compilations of data and statistics. Commonly-known general almanacs include the Information Please Almanac,/cite>and the People’s Almanac. In addition to being wonderful sources for all sorts of miscellaneous information, they are often fun simply to read and discover in them all sorts of fascinating trivia. In addition to the general almanacs and yearbooks there are also subject almanacs and yearbooks which provide a collection of facts about one particular discipline.

Handbooks are related but different from almanacs. While almanacs compile information, handbooks are manuals of information. Well-known handbooks include Famous First Facts, Masterplots and Handbook of Physics and Chemistry.

Finally directories give information about persons, organizations and institution. The most familiar directory is of course the common telephone book, which provides telephone numbers for the persons listed in it. Related to it is the reverse telephone directory, which enables a person to discover who has a particular telephone number. Other directories include city directories and government directories. There are also many subject directories which give names, addresses and phone numbers for institutions and organizations in a particular field. An example of this is the American Library Directory, which lists the addresses and telephone numbers of all the libraries in the United States, their divisions and branches, and the professional personnel in them. This can be useful for discovering libraries in your area that you never knew existed, particularly special libraries. With the aid of this guide you can contact by mail or telephone any library in the United States that may have some obscure bit of information you may need, and will be able to address by name the person who is in charge of reference there.

These ready-reference sources enable a person to discover all sorts of facts that might not be easily findable in a source that is designed primarily to give discoursive information on a broad subject discipline.

Copyright 1990, 1998 by Leigh Kimmel

For permission to quote or reprint, contact Leigh Kimmel

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