The Reference Librarian's Bible
Print and Digital Reference Resources Every Library Should Own
by Steven W. Sowards and Juneal Chenoweth, Editors
July 2018, 454pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-6061-4
$70, £54, 61€, A96
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6062-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

An all-in-one listing of 500 core reference works for every library’s reference section.

Divided into dedicated categories about the subjects most meaningful to librarians, this valuable resource reviews 500 texts across all major fields.

Drawing on their collective experience in reference services and sifting through nearly 30,000 reviews in ARBAonline, editors Steven Sowards, associate director for collection at Michigan State University Libraries, and Juneal Chenoweth, editor of American Reference Books Annual, curated this collection of titles, most of which have been published since 2000, to serve collections and reference librarians in academic and public libraries.

From the Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences and Encyclopedia of the Civil War to the Encyclopedia of Physics, Encyclopedia of Insects, and Taylor’s Encyclopedia of Garden Plants to the formidable Oxford English Dictionary, The Reference Librarian’s Bible encompasses every subject imaginable and will be your first stop for choosing and evaluating your library’s collections as well as for answering patrons’ questions.


  • Critically assesses the most widely held reference titles
  • Includes LC and Dewey classifications for every title
  • Makes finding titles easy with organization by subject
Steven W. Sowards is associate director for collections and past head of reference at the Michigan State University Libraries. He has written scores of reviews of reference works and multiple articles on reference sources, the reference world, and the print-to-digital migration of library resources. He sits on the board of American Reference Books Annual (ARBA) and was on the editorial review board of the American Library Association's Guide to Reference series. His publications include Guide to Reference in Business and Economics and "Reference Collections, Reference Services from Text to Technology," New Library World.

Juneal Chenoweth is an historian and long-time editor of America: History and Life and Historical Abstracts. Now managing editor of American Reference Books Annual (ARBA) and ARBAonline, Chenoweth works with an advisory board to track and make sense of the reference world for librarians. Chenoweth and her extensive network of reviewers, librarians, and editors annually review hundreds of reference books, websites, and subscription databases for inclusion in ARBA.


"Libraries without access to ARBA or ARBAonline should consider this reasonably priced title. Library and information science students will also find it beneficial."—Library Journal, November 1, 2018

"This will be a good checklist for many libraries, predominantly academic institutions, to use to evaluate their collections. Specialized libraries should also benefit by exploring the titles in their particular areas, such as science or the health sciences. Reasonably priced for a very useful tool, this volume should be considered by other libraries as well."—ARBA, October 3, 2018

"The entries in this curated collection are authoritative, reliable reference resources that have stood the test of time and are in widespread use in U.S. libraries. . . . This is a useful compilation of trusted reference tools. Summing Up: Recommended. Professionals." —Choice, November 12, 2018

". . . the sort of bibliography that is too rarely consulted these days; it serves as both a collection development tool and an ever-present reminder that reference books still have a place."—Against the Grain, January 1, 2019
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