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Universal Bibliography/Reference

This part of the Universal Bibliography is a bibliography of reference.

See w:Category:Bibliographies of reference works and s:Category:Reference

  • Guide to Reference: Essential General Reference and Library Science Sources [1]
  • Mulac. Fundamentals of Reference. (ALA Fundamentals Series). 2012. [2]
  • Hopkins, Florence May. Reference Guides that Should be Known and how to Use Them. [3]
  • Roberts, Arthur Denis. Introduction to Reference Books. Library Association. 1st Ed: 1948, 2nd Ed: 1951, 3rd Ed: 1956 [4]
  • Benge, Ronald Charles. The Study of Reference Material. 2nd Revised Ed: 1962 [5]
  • Richardson, "Reference Books" (1893) 18 The Library Journal 254 (July)
  • Walford's Guide to Reference Material [6] Walford. Guide to Reference Material. [7]
  • Walford's Concise Guide to Reference Material [8]
  • Bryant, David. Finding Information the Library Way: A Guide to Reference Sources. Library Professional Publications.1987. [9]
  • Guide to Reference Books. American Library Association. 7th Ed: 1951 (ed. Winchell), 11th Ed: 1996 [10] See w:Guide to Reference
  • Mudge, Reed & Winchell. Guide to Reference Books. Fifth Edition. American Library Association. 1929. Google Books
  • Isadore Gilbert Mudge . Guide to the Study and Use of Reference Books. American Library Association. 1917. Vol 3: Google Books
  • Reference Books: A Brief Guide for Students and other Users of the Library. Enoch Pratt Free Library. [11]
  • Reference Books. (PACAF Basic Bibliographies) [12]
  • Sader, Marion (ed). General Reference Books for Adults: Authoritative Evaluations of Encyclopedias, Atlases, and Dictionaries. (Bowker Buying Guide Series). R R Bowker Company.1988. [13]
  • Sader, Marion (ed). Reference Books for Young Readers: Authoritative Evaluations of Encyclopedias, Atlases, and Dictionaries. (Bowker Buying Guide Series). R R Bowker Company.1988. [14]
  • Lock, Muriel. Reference Material for Young People. (Readers Guide Series). Clive Bingley. Archon Books. 1967. [15]

Basic, fundamental:

  • Sweetland. Fundamental Reference Sources. ALA. 3rd Ed: 2001. [16]
  • Taylor and Powell. Basic Reference Sources: A Self-study Manual. Scarecrow Press. 1971. 1973 . 3rd Ed: 1985. 4th Ed: 1990. [17]
  • Shores, Louis. Basic Reference Sources: An Introduction to Materials and Methods. American Library Association. 1954. [18] Basic Reference Books, two Eds.
  • Basic Library Reference Sources. (Small Business Bibliography 18). US Small Business Administration. [19]
  • Basic Reference List. Brooklyn Public Library. 1969 [20]
  • Bonk, John Wallace. Use of Basic Reference Sources in Libraries. 1964. [21]
  • Bowker's Best Reference Books [22]
  • Best Reference Books: Titles of Lasting Value Selected from American Reference Books Annual. 1970-1980 1981-1985 1986-1990
  • Checklist of the Most Useful Reference Books. Indiana State Library. 1967 [23]
  • Munford, William Arthur. Reference Books. (Book List, 2nd series). National Book League. 1949 [24]
  • "Selected Reference Books". State Library Bulletin. Issue 4. 1899 [25]

For libraries and media centres:

  • O'Gorman (ed). Reference Sources for Small and Medium-sized Libraries. 8th Ed: 2014 [26] . Kennedy (ed). Reference Sources for Small and Medium-sized Libraries. ALA. 6th Ed: 1999. [27]
  • Nichols. Handbook of Reference Sources and Services for Small and Medium-sized Libraries. Texas State Library. 2nd Ed: 1994. [28]
  • Hysell (ed). Recommended Reference Books for Small and Medium-sized Libraries and Media Centres. Volume 27. 2007 Ed. [29]
  • The Classified List of Reference Books and Periodicals for College Libraries [30]
  • Peterson. Reference Books for Elementary and Junior High School Libraries. Scarecrow Press. 1970. 2nd Ed: 1975. [31]
  • Wynar. Guide to Reference Books for School Media Centers. 1973 [32]
  • Cundiff. Recommended Reference Books for the Elementary School Library. Wilcox and Follett. 1949. 2nd Ed: 1951. [33]
  • Cundiff. Recommended Reference Books for the High School Library. 5th Ed: 1955 [34]
  • CLA Basic Reference Books for Catholic High School Libraries [35]


  • Government Reference Books. Libraries Unlimited. 76/77 Ed

Countries etc:

  • Maichel. Guide to Russian Reference Books. (Hoover Institution Bibliographical Series). 1962 to 1967. Vol 1 : 1962, vol 2: 1964, vol 5: 1967.
  • Guide to South African Reference Books [36]
  • Dalby. South East Asia: A Guide to Reference Material. (Regional Reference Guides, vol 2). Hans Zell Publishers. 1993 [37]
  • Bond and Caron. Canadian Reference Sources: An Annotated Bibliography: General Reference Works, History, Humanities. UBC Press. 1996 [38]
  • Guide to New Zealand Reference Material and Other Sources of Information. 1950. Guide to New Zealand Reference Material, Supplement No 1. 1951 [39]
  • A Classified List of Reference Books in the Reading Rooms of the National Library of Peiping. [40]

In print, paperback or special media (such as braille), or on the internet:

  • Lea and Day (eds). Printed Reference Material and Related Sources of Information. Library Association. 3rd Ed: 1990. [41] Higgens (ed). Printed Reference Material. (Handbooks on Library Practice). Library Association. 1980. [42]
  • Recommended Reference Books in Paperback. Libraries Unlimited. 1981 [43] . 2nd Ed: 1992 [44] . 3rd Ed: 2000 [45] .
  • Wynar. Reference Books in Paperback: an Annotated Guide. Libraries Unlimited. 1972 [46] . 2nd Ed: 1976 [47]
  • Reference Books in Special Media [48] . Barber. Reference Books in Special Media: Addendum. 1987 [49]
  • Diaz, Karen. Reference Sources on the Internet: Off the Shelf and Onto the Web. Haworth Press. 1997. [50]
  • Miller and Pellen. Evolving Internet Reference Resources. [51]
  • Evolution in Reference and Information Services: The Impact of the Internet [52]


  • Reference and User Services Quarterly . Reference Quarterly. RQ. 1960 onwards. [53]
  • Reference Services Review . [54] 1973 onwards. Previously by Pierian Press. Commentary: [55]
  • Reference Book Review. (Cameron Northouse) [56] 1976 onwards.  Commentary: [57] [58] [59]
  • Reference Books Bulletin. (American Library Association) [60] . 1983 onwards. Replaces "Reference and Subscription Books Reviews".
  • American Reference Books Annual (ARBA). 1970 onwards. 2019 Ed, vol 50
  • Index to American Reference Books Annual [61]
  • Reference Sources. Pierian Press. 1977 onwards. 1982
  • Katz. Cuneiform to Computer: A History of Reference Sources. (History of the Book Series, Number 4). Scarecrow Press. 1998. [62]
  • Taylor, Archer. Renaissance Reference Books: A Checklist of Some Bibliographies Printed Before 1700. (Renaissance Bibliographies and Checklists). [63]

Publication, reviewing

  • Katz and Kinder. The Publishing and Review of Reference Sources. (The Reference Librarian, No 15). Haworth Press. 1987. [64] . (Routledge Library Editions, vol 70)
  • Balay, "Subject Coverage of Reference Books in Reviewing Journals" (1986) 24 Choice 424 (November)

Reference collections:

  • Nolan, Christopher W. Managing the Reference Collection. American Library Association. 1999. [65]
  • Nichols. Selecting and Using a Core-reference Collection. Texas State Library. 2nd Ed: 1993 [66]

Reference work

Reference services

  • Katz. Introduction to Reference Work [67]
  • Hutchins. Introduction to Reference Work [68]
  • Sharma. Reference Service and Sources. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. 2006 [69]

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Universal bibliography, Humanities

A universal bibliography is one that includes everything that is issued, published, or processed in the field of knowledge from the beginning to the future. Dr. Ranganathan defines a bibliography to be universal when it includes all published materials, whether books or portion of them or periodicals or articles in them or combination of them, on all subjects, in all languages, in all countries, at all times. In other words, a universal bibliography is one that records all documents, produced in all languages in all countries of the world, without restriction of the theme. 

The preparation of a universal bibliography of the above nature appears to be a mammoth task almost impossible to achieve. Bibliographers for the last many years have been trying to accomplish it. There are various limitations for preparation of such a bibliography due to the tremendous growth of knowledge and literature in the last 30-40 years. Along with it, language is a main barrier. Another constraint is the way to compile and arrange the entries in the bibliography. Introduction of computers have however reduced some of these problems.

There have been many early attempts for preparation of such bibliographies. One of the few well-known events in the history of universal bibliography is the valiant attempt made by two Belgian Scholars, Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine, starting in the year 1895 and into early years of the twentieth century. They attempted to create a universal classified bibliography of books and important periodical articles.

Although millions of entries were accumulated on cards at the headquarters of the scheme, in Brussels, the venture failed through due to lack of international financial support, but out of it came the now well known FID - International Federation for Information and Documentation and the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC).

As mentioned earlier there are no known published universal bibliographies but some possible examples in this directions can be published catalogues of British Library Reference Division,. British Library, WK), Library of Congress of US, and Bibliotheque Nationale of France.

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A: Kreis 1, Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

Conrad Gessner Issues the First Universal Bibliography Since the Invention of Printing

At the age of 29, apparently after only three years of concentrated work, Swiss physician, bibliographer, naturalist and alpinist Conrad Gessner (Gesner) issued the first volume of his Bibliotheca universalis, sive catalogus omnium scriptorum locupletissimus, in tribus linguis, Latin, Graeca, & Hebraica: extantium & non extantium veterum & recentiorum. . .  (1545)   at the press of Christopher Froschauer in Zurich. Three years later Gessner issued an a subject index to the work, Pandectarum sive partitionum universalium libri XXI , in 1548-49. Froschauer published Gessner's Appendix: Bibliothecae  supplementing the work in 1555. Coincidentally, two years before the Bibliotheca universalis , Andreas Vesalius had issued De humani corporis fabrica (1543), another massive work of scholarship and science, also at the age of 29.

The first "universal" bibliography published since the invention of printing, Gessner's  Bibliotheca universalis was an international bibliography of authors who wrote in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, alphabetically arranged by their first names in accordance with medieval usage. Short biographical data preceded the lists of works, with indications of printing places and dates, printers and editors, where applicable. Gessner listed about 12,000 titles in the Bibliotheca universalis , expanded to about 15,000 in his  Appendix . Though it was called "universal," Gessner intended his bibliography to be selective.

Escaping the Labyrinth

"The technique of book production had changed radically as a result of print, but problems of information had not been simplified. This moved publishers and scholars to develop tools equal to the new situation. But such tools did not prove completely adequate to the task of helping the reader faced with the problem of selection, a problem which had now become more complicated. The predicament suggested to Gesner an encompassing labyrinth made up of a multitude of books. He confessed the profound sense of freedom he experienced when he finished his massive work in 1545: 'In truth I rejoice and thank God because I have finally gotten out of the labyrinth in which I was trapped for almost three years' " (Balsamo, Bibliography: History of a Tradition [1990] 32).

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development   (1984) No. 14.

♦ Ironically Gessner, a physician, did not complete the intended medical section of his Bibliotheca universalis (liber xxi) and it was never published.

Besterman, The Beginnings of Systematic Bibliography 2nd ed (1940) 15-18.

Technically, in this project Gessner was preceded by Muhammad ib Ishaq (Abu al Faraj) called Ibn Abi Al-Nadim who in 988 CE published the Fihrist, an index of the books of all nations which were extant in the Arabic language and script. Chronologically, Al-Nadim's work was the earliest attempt at a universal bibliography, but it did not appear in a printed edition until 1871-72, and had no influence on the development of bibliography in Europe.

(This entry was last revised on 05-21-2014).

Timeline Themes

Related entries, de humani corporis fabrica:, an index of the books of all nations:.

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