The Stacks Reconfiguration Taskforce Report recommends designating part of the Main Stacks (front of current Deck 5) as a building-use only Retrospective Reference collection. The purpose of this collection is to house reference works that have research/referral value, but are distinct from an up-to-date working collection. One of the main characteristics of reference books is that they are frequently updated. While we strive to maintain currency in the Main Reference collection and in departmental libraries, as a research library we find that we still need to consult these 'dated' works. A good example is older editions of American Men and Women of Science, which include unique biographical sketches. The nature of these titles argues against sending them to off-site shelving. Moving them together in the Main Stacks, however, frees valuable space in the Reference Room and in departmental libraries, while increasing convenience for users and reference staff by locating them in a central, easily accessible location.
The classic definition of a reference book is a work that is consulted to find a specific item of information (an address, definition, bibliographic citation, etc). Reference works typically include dictionaries; encyclopedias; directories; almanacs, handbooks, and yearbooks; collected biographies; and indexes. They may be single volume (e.g., dictionary); multi-volume set (encyclopedias), or contins (periodical index).
Though it may be difficult to articulate hard and fast criteria for this collection, the overarching consideration is that the items still retain research value and would be consulted frequently enough to warrant remaining in the Main Library. The following guidelines for what constitutes a 'retrospective reference' include:
Reference works that would NOT be included:
Following the guidelines described above, all libraries are urged to identify titles for this
collection, both from their libraries and from their subject areas within the Stacks. In order to
anticipate how much room is necessary, libraries should give an estimate of the number of linear
feet they anticipate moving into this collection, both from the stacks and from their departmental
collections. More specific procedures and timeframe will be provided by Betsy Kruger.