Monday, August 31, 2009

Top Five Reference Sources

With our online library catalog we are able to keep track of the number of times we consult or hand out books from our reference desk. With this information we have compiled a list of the five most used sources that we keep at our reference desk. Our work at the reference desk often involves finding concise, factual information for library patrons both on the phone and in person. The following five sources are comprehensive and provide ready answers to commonly asked questions.

We have written in the past about the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, specifically in its online form Oxford Music Online. This 30 volume set is considered the definitive reference source for classical music. It is particularly indispensable for the detailed listings of all the compositions written by major composers.

Popular Music, 1920-1979, subtitled “an annotated index of over 18,000 American popular songs” is an important reference source for verifying the correct spelling of song titles, as well as for providing the names of a song’s composers and lyricists, the year a song was composed, as well as its publisher and the recording artists who made it popular. There are also supplemental volumes for the years 1900-1919, 1980-1989, as well as annual updates from 1990 through 2002.

A Guide Book of United States Coins, now in its 67th edition, is sometimes known as the “blue book” of coins. This annual publication presents the prices that dealers typically will pay for all denominations of U.S. coinage that have been in circulation from the colonial era to the present.

Davenport's Art Reference & Price Guide, at 2805 pages in its current edition, is a massive summary of the art auction market. It includes over 320,000 artists providing their dates, nationality, a brief bibliography, as well as price ranges for each artist arranged by medium and size. This source does not take the place of actual auction catalogs, but it does provides a quick, all-in-one summary of the market for an artist’s work.

The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz is now in its 6th edition. Also a thick volume at 1567 pages, this encyclopedia is both biographical and factual. It provides definitions of motion picture terminology as well as entries for awards, countries, and motion picture companies. In summary it’s another excellent all-in-one source.

1) The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians edited by Stanley Sadie. (Grove, 2001).

2) Popular music, 1920-1979: A Revised Cumulation edited by Nat Shapiro and Bruce Pollock, editor. (Gale Research Co., 1985).

3) A Guide Book of United States Coins. (Western Pub. Co., 2010) [latest edition].

4) Davenport's Art Reference & Price Guide by R.J. Davenport. (Davenport's Art Reference, 2009/2010). [latest edition].

5) The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz, revised by Ronald Dean Nolen. (Collins, 2008).

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