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Tag Archives: reference

So, it finally happened. My rather irreverent take on some of the things that happen to me at work managed to catch the attention of someone at Booklist. This month’s issue featured an article on Twitter Reference, and it included one of my #librarylife tweets. You can check out the article here.

I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite reference books this week. Since I’ve moved into a new apartment (yay me!), I’m in the process of reassembling and sorting my personal library. This includes, of course, my reference shelf.

I’ve got a handful of standards that I always have available. My dictionary and thesaurus are chief among these. Every once in a while, though, a specific project demands something unique. Currently, I’m borrowing The Empire of Death from V. When you’re working on a story about a village of coffin makers and gravediggers, such a thing is an indispensable aid. Additionally, I’ve recently acquired copies of 45 Master Characters and The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, both of which are great fun when developing well-rounded characters.

Other times, I have to rely on the suggestions of others to track down new ideas. I found an article today in which several famous authors talked about their favorite reference books. Both Cassandra Clare and Neil Gaiman had the same choice, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. This meant that I had to leave my desk at work and journey downstairs to the print reference collection to track down a copy. Ours is a few years out of date, but I’m planning to purchase a more recent copy for personal use.

Some of the best references are available online, and I strive to make use of them as well. One of the latest is the Digital Public Library of America, a bold project to freely share access to a wealth of information. I also love TV Tropes, but it will ruin your life. Seriously.

What about you, dear readers? Any favorite books/sites that you use frequently? Let me know.

In my new position at the public library, I’ve been learning my way around the print reference collection. Let me say this. If a library is a magical place, the reference collection is the source of the power. In my ignorance, I had never ventured behind the reference desk during my initial year at my branch. After spending a mere half hour wandering through the shelves, I realized the error of my ways.

I have been spending my initial training days studying the print reference collection because it is an integral part of our library. Even if most of the searching and problem solving that reference librarians and information services specialists do now is done online, knowing our way around the physical reference section is critical.

Even if it’s only a matter of being able to search for information in the event that the power goes out or the internet is down, I know where I can go to find necessary info for my patrons or for myself. There’s something incredibly satisfying about being able to go to a shelf, pull a book, and open it to the page you need for the data you are trying to find.

A part of me really misses the old card catalogs of my youth. That’s right, folks, I grew up learning the Dewey Decimal system so that I could find a 3×5 card with a book’s call number on it, match the number on the card to a book on the shelf, and take that book to the librarian to check out. Now I understand and fully accept that technological advancements have made it so that a card catalog is now found in a museum rather than a library, but I am still proud that I know how to use it. (I file that accomplishment along with my knowledge of 8-track tapes, rotary phones, and manual transmissions.)

I’ve found all manner of wonderful tools to put to use, both for myself and for others. Here’s a few of them.


I am very pleased to have found copies of books like these on the shelves. I foresee a great deal of free time being spent browsing through the reference collection now, and I am happy to say that research for future projects is going to be a lot more fun than I ever would have guessed.