Reference (Baker-Berry Library)

Collection Area

Reference: Social Sciences and Humanities Collection, Baker-Berry Library


The reference collection supports all disciplines served by the Baker-Berry Library. It is not affiliated with a single academic department or subject area and so does not have a program history in that sense. The collection is selected and maintained by the Research and Instruction Services librarians of Baker-Berry Library.

General Purpose

The collection serves the reference and research needs of a broad spectrum of users that includes the College community, guest borrowers, and patrons not affiliated with the College. It brings together print and electronic sources including handbooks, general and subject encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, biographical dictionaries, indexes and abstracts, bibliographies, statistical compilations, and aids of various sorts, which are often referred to by reference staff and patrons. Resources not specifically related to the curriculum may also be collected in order to answer more general questions, e.g. almanacs. The subject coverage is primarily of the social sciences and humanities plus general reference works, though, for convenience, the collection includes some basic volumes for subjects otherwise out of scope. The collection encompasses current and historical material. Due to space constraints reference material may also be shelved in the general stacks. This includes material of less immediate demand and older volumes of serial titles, e.g. subject bibliographies, handbooks, “companions.”

Dartmouth College Program

See 'General Purpose' above.

General Subject Boundaries

In addition to general materials the major subject areas covered are philosophy, psychology, religion, history and its auxiliary sciences, geography, anthropology, economics, sociology, government and public affairs, law, education, language and literature, recreation, materials dealing with library science, and publishing. Reliance is, for the most part, on the related libraries to provide reference materials in their areas, while duplication is kept to a minimum in the Baker-Berry reference collection.


English is the primary language of the collection; however, foreign-language publications are acquired as appropriate, e.g. encyclopedias, bibliographies, dictionaries. Publications in infrequently consulted languages are usually shelved in the stacks.

Geographic Areas

The reference collection is not restricted by any particular geographical constraint.
Some regions are more heavily documented than others in response to perceived need.

Types Of Material Collected

Both monographic works and serials form the collection. Among the serials, either in print and/or online, are bibliographies, indexes, and abstracts, as well as many yearbooks, encyclopedias, directories, travel guides, college catalogs, biographical dictionaries and statistical compilations.

Format Of Materials Collected

A significant and growing percentage of the collection is now acquired in online/digital form. Printed books and serials still compose an important part of the collection but preference is given to online editions when possible. CD-ROMS are also acquired when necessary, although online, networked access is preferred.

Other Resources Available

Access to numerous online resources provides information about domestic and international material beyond the Dartmouth collection. Examples include the online edition of titles previously in print, e.g. article indexes, dictionaries, etc.; databases such as WorldCat; the web pages of associations, government and corporate agencies; search engines such as Google, Google Scholar, Google Book Search, Yahoo, and others. We also continue to make use of other local and regional libraries as appropriate.

Other Related Collection Policies

Government Documents - U.S policy
Map and Atlas Collection policy

Revision History

April 1989 (Virginia L. Close)
September 1994 (Fran Oscadal)
March 2000 (Fran Oscadal)
April 2009 (Fran Oscadal, Ridie Ghezzi)

LC Class

A through Z.
Very few titles are collected in Art (N), Music (M), Science/Technology /Medicine (Q, R, S, T,)


Francis Oscadal

Current Bibliographer

Francis X. Oscadal

Related Policies

Government Documents - U.S., Maps and Atlas Collections


Francis Oscadal

Current Bibliographer

Francis X. Oscadal