Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Guidelines for the Preparation of a Bibliography

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Guidelines for the Preparation of a Bibliography

Article excerpt

Prepared by the Bibliography Committee, Collection Development and Evaluation Section, Reference and User Services Association, American Library Association, 1992. Revised by the RUSA Standards Committee and approved by the RUSA Board of Directors, June 2001. Reviewed and updated in June 2008 by Collection Development Policies and Assessment Committee and approved by RUSA's Standards and Guidelines Committee, July 2009. Approved by the RUSA Board of Directors, March 2010.

These guidelines originated as the "Criteria for Evaluating a Bibliography," adopted by the Reference Services Division Board in 1971. A revision of those guidelines under the current name, "Guidelines for the Preparation of a Bibliography" was approved by the RASD board of directors in 1982 and can be found in RQ 22 (Fall 1982): 31-32. The RASD Bibliography Committee based many parts of the 1982 revision on the "Criteria for the Evaluation of Enumerative Bibliographies" prepared by the Committee on Bibliographical Services for Canada in 1979."

"The 1992 committee has proposed less extensive revisions than were adopted in 1982 but wants to strengthen wording regarding annotations and multiple points of access and to make clearer what is meant by standard bibliographic form."

The 2007-09 RUSA/CODES Collection Development Policies and Assessment Committee has proposed minor changes to the document to include electronic bibliographies, author information, timeliness, and history.

The original Guidelines were adopted in 1971 by the Reference Services Division Board and revised and updated in 1982 and in 1992 by the Bibliography Committee of the Collection Development and Evaluation Section of the Reference and User Services Association. The 2001 revision was prepared by RUSA's Standards and Guidelines Committee to reflect technological developments since the wide dissemination of print or electronic bibliographies and to make more explicit sound principles involved in the preparation of a bibliography, regardless of its format. They are intended for use by all in the library community.

For purposes of these guidelines, a bibliography is a systematic list of bibliographic units within a subject (see 3.2). Bibliographies may exist as stand-alone works or may appear at the end of research documents. As appropriate to the audience, the author(s) may elect to use a more common term to describe the final bibliography, such as "pathfinder," "finding aid," or "research guide."


1.1 Ensure that the bibliography fills a significant need in order to justify its compilation.

1.2 Fit the subject into the general scheme of available bibliographical sources without unnecessary duplication. If similar bibliographies exist, review them and then explicitly state the unique contribution of this new one.

1.3 Clearly state the subject in the title and define the subject in a preliminary statement.


2.1 Clearly define the scope.

2.2 Strive for completeness within the stated limitations (period, geographical area, medium, language, library holdings, quality, intended audience, etc.).

2.3 Identify and describe each different format appropriately


3.1 Provide sources consulted and information on the method of compilation.

3.2 Include all available bibliographic units within the subject. A bibliographic unit is an entity in a bibliography: books, journal articles, reports, manuscripts, sound and video recordings, individual webpages and entire websites, computer programs or printouts, films, charts, etc. Identify all items not personally examined by the author(s).


4.1 Principles of organization

4.1.1 Organize the material suitably for both the subject and the targeted users.

4.1.2 Arrange the material so it is possible to use the bibliography from at least one organizational approach without consulting supporting documentation such as an index. …

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