Indiana University

Reference Department Favorite Reference Books

Jennifer Laherty, Digital Reference Services Librarian, The Columbia Gazetteer

The Columbia Gazetteer of the World (edited by Saul B. Cohen, Columbia University Press 1998) is an amazing encyclopedic compilation of geographies from around the world.  It includes information about every type of place whether it’s the physical world (continents, oceans, lagoons, rivers, mountain ranges, valleys, and more) or the political world (countries, states, regions, cities, towns, neighborhoods, and more).  In here you will find that the Amazon River is the second longest (3,900 miles), that it carries more water than any other river in the world, that its drainage basin is enormous (about 2,5000,000 square miles), and much more.  Be sure to check out the online version of this marvelous reference work via the Libraries website.  Don’t forget local reference works of place names such as “From Needmore to Prosperity: Hoosier Place Names in Folkore and History (by Ronald L. Baker, Indiana University Press 1995).

Dave Frasier, Reference Librarian, Harrison's Film Reviews

From July 5, 1919 to Sept. 1, 1962, controversial film reviewer and industry critic P.  S. Harrison published Harrison’s Reports and Film Reviews, a four-page subscription service targeted to independent movie exhibitors.  Each week Harrison’s publication combined editorials on the business aspects of motion picture exhibition, new  technologies (sound, 3-D), and political issues (the “Red Menace”) with highly opinionated reviews featuring in-depth plot summaries and comments on each film’s “playability” in theatres.  This 14 volume set (plus Index) reprints each issue and provides access to some 17,000 film reviews from the era of silent cinema to the early Sixties.  An invaluable resource for the study of film history.

Anne Haynes, Reference Librarian, Distance Education Librarian, and Bibliographer for Library and Information Science, Atlas of American Religion: The Denomination Era, 1776-1990

The Atlas of American Religion: the Denominational Era, 1776-1990 was more than twenty years in creation, and it is a combination of narrative and statistical information.  Its strength is in the number of historical maps (almost one hundred) and charts, and the data are gathered from other sources including the U.S. Bureau of the Census.  It does not attempt to include religions practiced in the United States outside of the Judeo-Christian sects, but it does give a thorough graphic representation of the distribution of the covered religious sects for over two centuries.

Mary Strow, Head, Reference Department, The International Encyclopedia of Dance

The International Encyclopedia of Dance was 10 years in the making, and is the first comprehensive encyclopedia devoted to all types and facets of dance.  As a librarian, it’s surprising to me that an art form as old and culturally pervasive as dance has not had an encyclopedia to serve as a basic guide to studying the field, and this is one reason why I was so  excited to see this book published.  It is a major work of scholarship and covers the history of dance in various countries, interpretive essays on historical subjects and thematic motifs, including biographies, criticism, dance productions, and many more topics.

You can also link to all these sources online by going to the IU Libraries’ website:, and typing the title into the Search box.