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Reference work

reference work, reference worksheet
A reference work is a book or periodical or its electronic equivalent to which one can refer for information The information is intended to be found quickly when needed Reference works are usually referred to for particular pieces of information, rather than read beginning to end The writing style used in these works is informative; the authors avoid use of the first person, and emphasize facts Many reference works are compiled by a team of contributors whose work is coordinated by one or more editors rather than by an individual author Indices are commonly provided in many types of reference work Updated editions are usually published as needed, in some cases annually eg Whitaker's Almanack, Who's Who Reference works include dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, almanacs, bibliographies, and catalogs eg catalogs of libraries, museums or the works of individual artists Many reference works are available in electronic form and can be obtained as application software, CD-ROMs, DVDs, or online through the Internet

A reference work is useful to its users if they attribute some degree of trust to the information regarding its level of accuracy, a degree that each user judges to be enough for their current purpose, at the price level they have paid which may be zero or nonzero


  • 1 Reference book
  • 2 Electronic resources
  • 3 References
  • 4 Further reading

Reference book

In comparison, a reference book or reference-only book in a library is one that may only be used in the library and may not be borrowed from the library Many such books are reference works in the first sense, which are, usually, used briefly or photocopied from, and, therefore, do not need to be borrowed Keeping them in the library assures that they will always be available for use on demand Some reference-only books are too valuable to permit borrowers to take them out Reference-only items may be shelved in a reference collection located separately from circulating items Some libraries consist entirely, or to a large extent, of books which may not be borrowed

Electronic resources

An electronic resource is a piece of information that is stored electronically, which is usually found on a computer, including information available on the internet Libraries offer many types of electronic resources: subject research guides, indices, electronic books and texts, electronic journals, library catalogs, reference sources, statistical sources, sound recordings, and image databases


  1. ^ The University of Santo Tomas Miguel de Benavides Library "The Reference Materials" Retrieved 3 May 2012 
  2. ^ AllWordscom "Electronic Resources" 
  3. ^ The University of Chicago Library "Types of Electronic Resources" Retrieved 3 May 2012 

Further reading

  • American Reference Books Annual: ARBA Littleton, Col: Libraries Unlimited, 1970-
  • Bergenholtz, H, Nielsen, S, Tarp, S eds: Lexicography at a Crossroads: Dictionaries and Encyclopedias Today, Lexicographical Tools Tomorrow Peter Lang 2009 ISBN 978-3-03911-799-4
  • Higgens, G, ed 1980 Printed Reference Material Handbooks on Library Practice London: Library Association
  • Katz, W A 1978 Introduction to Reference Work; 3rd ed 2 vols New York: McGraw-Hill
  • Nielsen, Sandro "The Effect of Lexicographical Information Costs on Dictionary Making and Use" In: Lexikos 18 2008, 170-189
Guides to reference works

Sheehy's Guide is less international in its scope than Walford: "It seems that Walford is a somewhat better balanced work than Winchell, and is certainly much more comprehensive"--American Reference Books Annual, quoted in Walford, A J 1981 Walford's Concise Guide to Reference Material London: Library Association ISBN 0-85365-882-X; p 19

  • Heeks, P, comp 1968 Books of Reference for School Libraries: an annotated list; 2nd ed London: Library Association a basic list of 301 annotated entries useful for any small library
  • Malclès, L-N 1950 Les sources du travail bibligraphique 3 vols in 4 Geneva: Droz, 1950-58 reissued by Minard, Paris, & French & European Publications, New York, 1966
  • Sheehy, E P et al, comps 1976 Guide to Reference Books; 9th ed Chicago: American Library Association; Supplement, 1980 began with a guide compiled by A B Kroeger, 1917; 3rd-6th eds by I G Mudge; 7th & 8th by C M Winchell
  • Totok, W & Weitzel, R 1972 Handbuch der bibliographischen Nachschlagewerke; 4 Aufl, hrg von W Totok, K-H Weimann, R Weitzel Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann 1st ed 1954
  • Day, Alan editor 1998 Walford's Guide to Reference Material 3 vols|format= requires |url= help London: Library Association Publishing 
  • Walford, A J 1980–82 Walford's Guide to Reference Material 4th ed London: Library Association 

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Reference work

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