The purpuse of this guide is to help in determining the usefulness of a reference source. After answering the following questions about several sources you will be able to compare the sources to see which serves your needs best.

TITLE

The first question to ask is: What is the title?

TYPICAL QUESTION

The next is to look at it and ask what questions would lead me to using this source?

FORMAT

What is the format? Is it print? A paperback? Hardcover? Sturdy binding? Online? CD-ROM? Annual? Monograph?

Next look at the date and the cost.

PURPOSE

Next thing to determine is the sources purpose. This should be kept simple. For instance, the purpose of the Physicians Desk Reference is to compile, organize, and distribute the FDA approved labeling of the drugs listed, as well as prescription information, such as proper dosages, side effects, methods, frequency, and duration of administration. It also covers drugs that are not FDA approved under current FDA policies, and drugs that have been grandfathered.

SCOPE

Scope is the next thing to classify. Here are the details of the sources purpose that do not fit elsewhere in this evaluation. Information for this can usually be found on the dust jacket and on the introductory pages.

Include the Library of Congress Subject Headings in this section.

AUDIENCE

Audience is who this is intended to be used by. Is it for elementary school aged children? Middle school? High School? College level? Home use? Office use? Library use? Professional use?

DATES OF COVERAGE

From prehistory or only 20th century? All regions? All languages?

HOW TO USE How is it arranged? In alphabetical order? By topic? Is it best to start with the index or just jump right in? Is the Table of Contents a helpful finding aid? Are there specialized indexes? Search by page numbers or by entry numbers?

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

This can be your own evaluation or a professional evaluation if you find one. What are its best points? What are its worst?

REVIEW SOURCES

Is it reviewed in Books In Print Plus? Guide to Reference Books? Recommended Reference Books for Small and Medium-sized Libraries and Media Centers? American Reference Books Annual? Booklist? Business Week? Amazon.com? Do all local libraries have it? Does the dust jacket have a quote?

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