This is an information sources that hold descriptive information about a work. This information includes the origin of the work (author, title, imprint etc). They also contain details of non – print media e.g. if it is a film it will contain the title, producer of the film, date it was released and its duration. A bibliographic source links the information seeker to the source of information. A bibliography facilitates access to published documents to the users.


An index is a systematic list of concepts, terms that describe a collections or a document. It also a tool guiding the inquirer to the document. An index is a product of indexing. Indexing is the process of analyzing information or subject knowledge of reported knowledge and expressing the information in the language of the indexing system. Indexing involves scanning through a collection/documentation analyzing its contents then selecting the concepts to be indexed and eventually, the item/concepts provided with a precise location e.g. page number, chapter etc.

An index will generally contain a table of contents, places or persons mention in a collection.


  • It’s a guide to specific terms in a collection hence helps searcher locate items effectively and may also be used to browse among related entries.
  • It helps to bring the language of the index and that of the user together. The main purpose is to provide a means of locating a particular type of information when needed therefore minimizes search efforts.


  • Requires accumulation of entries into a cohesive and consistent form.
  • Establish identifiers, which are effective.
  • Determine the physical form in which the index is to be published (e.g. manual or computerized) and made available to the public.


  • Author index: Gives the name of author first (surname) followed by his works (title, location in the collection). An author catalogue can be identified as an author index.
  • Title index: Gives the title of the work.
  • Subject Index: Gives the subject of a work.
  • Concordances: Mostly used in a bible. It guides searchers to the words used in a document, it form is derived in the title of a document on the whole text.
  • Citation Index: This provides a list locating earlier reference or more recent work.


It is a summary of a large work. Its defined a fewer words yet retaining some sense. It is a condensed form whereby details are omitted but still retaining the original work.


  • Are important in the field of translation as they enable an information seeker to still get hold of the information. It is translated into a language understood hence overcoming language barrier between information sources and seeker.
  • Abstracting services facilitate selection of documents by the user’s and information personnel because it provides essential points about the work.
  • In most educational books the nature of the work is contained in the publisher catalogue, purpose of the work, which can enable an individual to consider whether or not to choose the item for the collection.
  • They act as an aid to the reader or selector in accessing the content of a document and its relevance.
  • It substitutes an original document and due to its brevity less time is used to digest information and hence higher retention.
  • They are less expensive than the original documents.
  • It’s a tool for literature search and here searching for information is accompanied by the use of an index so as to be able to through a vast collection of published works.
  • It facilitates indexing through scanning through an abstract and choosing the concepts and terms to be used in an index.
  • They are used in the provision of current awareness services (CAS), which alerts users about up to date information of their area of interest.
  • They facilitate literature review – this is searching for information either in a research topic or assignment.


  • It must be concise i.e. stick to the point and care should be taken to ensure that long phrases are replaced by single words.
  • Precision meaning only the expression that is exact and specific should be used especially when summarizing the original document.
  • Self – sufficiency – The document should be complete, accurate and easily understandable hence an abstract must be fully informative.
  • Objectifies – Should express only what is in the original documents.

There must be no person producing an abstract. The primary (original) document should be described as it is.


  1. Informative/Comprehensive abstracts

These contain significant findings, arguments and even state the scope. Its main purpose is to communicate.

  1. Indicative/Descriptive abstracts

This is informative but restricted to descriptive statements about the content e.g. it can give the title and a sentence described in the document.

  1. Title only abstracts

This type of abstract describes the documents without elaboration about subject content.

  1. Slanted abstract

These give information or description based on a specific discipline that interests the users.


  • Abstracting services offer 3 functions.
  • Disseminate information.
  • Selection of information by the end user.
  • Retrieval of information.


This is list information materials housed in an informatory action centre giving systematically arranged information. Its purpose includes;

  • It senses as a means of documents and other information materials.
  • Location and retrieval tool of the document.
  • Helps in administrative work since they are always ready with detailed data that can prevent duplication. It serves as an inventory.
  • It guides information seeker to the shelves for quick and efficient retrieval of information materials.

There are 2 forms of catalogue:

  • Manual catalogue/card catalogue/book catalogue
  • Computerized catalogue(recorded on a computer and readable carrier e.g. diskette)

Types of catalogue

  • Author catalogue
  • Subject catalogue
  • Geographical catalogue
  • Chronological catalogue(publication date and accession number)

Other bibliographic sources include:

  • Guides to literature-reference
  • Acce/retrieval tools mostly in achieves- catalog, abstracts and index
  • Accession lists
  • Shelf studies
  • Calendars etc.


There are 2 types of encyclopedias


Subject (specific)

It’s a book giving information on all branches of knowledge or specific subject. Also known as storehouse of knowledge.

It is a source commonly used as a reference tool. They are useful in solving research problems because they answer questions like what, where, when, how an event occurred. They can be general i.e. covering wider variety of a subject encyclopedia, which explores a particular discipline.


Encyclopedia – Americana

McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of science and technology.

Learning Activity

Pick a general and subject encyclopedia from the library and highlight the following

  1. The type of information found in the two types of encyclopedias.
  2. State the difference between the subject and general encyclopedia.



It contains the words of a language, terms of subject or professions arranged in a definite order.

Usually an alphabetical one. It gives meanings, spelling, pronunciation, uses/applications and origin – etymology.

It can also be general e.g. oxford dictionary and also specific e.g. law dictionary. Gives terms in legal profession. It is therefore a compilation of words in a language arranged in alphabetical order and defined in the same language. It is also a compilation of words in a language translated into one or more language.

Electronic dictionaries mainly used in computers

Glossary: A glossary is a kind of dictionary that translates technical terms of a language/discipline used in a field or in a document into a more easy to understand words of the same language. E.g. Harold’s librarian glossary.

Thesaurus dictionary: Consist of a set of controlled terms linked by hierarchical or associative meaning or relationship. E.g. thesaurus of engineering terms.



These are publications published yearly. ALA defines annual as an annual volume of current information in a descriptive or statistical form sometimes limited to a specific field.


According to ALA glossary an almanac is an annual publication containing a calendar frequently accompanied by astronomical data and other information. It can also be restricted to one specific field or more. It contains useful information like statistics relating to various countries, personalities and events.

The difference between a almanac and a year book, is that almanacs contains retrospective (additional) data that didn’t occur in that specific years while year book covers one specific years.

Purposes of annuals/yearbooks

Recent (up – to – date): Regardless of the form and presentation, a user turns to a year book or almanac for relatively recent information on various issues.

Brief facts contained: Where single figures or facts are required without benefit of explanation, almanacs are particularly useful.

Information indexes: Most almanac give sources of information thus can be used as a source of guidance to the required information.

It can provide information on trends in a particular topic e.g. population

Directory and biographical sources.




It is a list of persons organizations, systematically arranged in alphabetical or classed order giving addresses or telephone numbers. It s a reference source listing information in a way which best suits or serves information requirements of the users.

Types of directories

Telephone directories

Postal directories

Institutional directories

Trade/business directories

Professional directories


Gives information about individuals or firms.

Give full names of individuals and firms.

Trade directories give particular manufactures product.

NB: Some less obvious functions of directories include obtaining limited biographical,

Historical information about an individual or firm.

Learning activity

Select at least three types of directories:

  1. Institutional directory
  2. Telephone directory
  3. Trade directory
  4. Postal or fax directory

Highlight the type of information found in each source


This is a source of information that has the ability to transport the viewer of information seeker to any part of the world/universe.

These are primary graphic presentation, which allow the user to have full information of a given region/locality. Most of these sources are words and provides a type of satisfaction rarely found in purely textual approach to knowledge.

Types include atlases, maps, gazetteers, and globes. These sources are normally very accurate.


They act as location guides i.e. they assist the user in locating terms, roads, airlines, countries, etc.

Thematic geography sources serves to answer almost all queries from the location of a specified archaeological site to the main valley. The distinct advantage of geographical works of a more general reference sources are:

They give information for smaller units not found in general works.

They provide precise information.

Geographical sources are to use some are limited to one given area.

A map can be defined as a presentation presents which have an abstraction as well as simplification. It also presents earth boundaries on a flat surface. There are various kinds of map.

Political map – Give the legal boundaries of a country.

Climatic map – Weather / climate of area.

Route maps – Showing road, railway and location.

Atlas: It is a collection of map bound in a volume

Characteristics of maps

  1. Contains scales which refer / represent the size on the ground.
  2. Have colors to enable different classes of data to be related to another and also how
  3. Distinction among details.
  4. A set of symbols for roads, screams, villages, cities, etc. and these symbols must be explained.
  5. They use the grid system to represent latitudes, which are useful for the locating a

Special place on the map.

Gazetteers: This is a geographical dictionary of finding list of cities, mountains, rivers, population and features in the atlas. E.g. Website geography dictionaries, time index gazetteers of the world.

Travel guides: This is a guidebook usually defined as a handbook for travelers that gives the librarian or any other user with the vast amount of information about places.

Other geography sources like atlases, gazetteers are specific enough about pin pointing location yet rarely deal with facts that travelers requires  e.g. Kenya  Airways travel guide, the American travel series.

Globes: This is ball – shaped and gives names of contents, oceans, etc.


Hand books are also important reference sources and play a very big role to a library and information services. It is a compilation of miscellaneous information in a compact handy form. They act as tools that enable users to get information needed first and promptly.

Examples are: Handbook for chemistry and physics data. It gives information in short form and even employs charts, tables in the compilation of information.

A manual is also a current reference source, which can be defined as an instruction in book instructing on how to do something by means of specific and clear direction.



A publication issued in part and divided into two – irregular serials – issued in non-specified time. periodical serials – they come at a specific time and have a district title, which appears at stated / regular intervals. Often with the last issue shall appear. A periodical usually contain article , stories and other writing by several contribution .at general conference of UNESCO held in Paris in November 1964 and it was agreed that a publication is periodical if it constitutes one issue in a continuing series. Published at regular and examples of serials are periodical, parent and drama.

In addition the individual issue should be dated. A serials includes newspapers, magazine, conference proceeding etc. serial constitutes a very important part of the library for the following reason.

  • Proceeding contains the most accurate information at least in the print form.
  • Periodical contain some information not likely found in the traditional book e.g. announcements of conference in the fourth- coming period .Advertisement for recent position book reviews and death announcement. In most cases the book reviews are usually found in books which the periodical falls.
  • Some periodical are published continuously over long period of times it s therefore possible to trace through them the development of give subject.
  • It serves as vehicles of permanent records or research finding.
  • They facilitate an exchange of information between author of the research finding and reader because they contain up- to- date information
  • Periodical are popular with users therefore justifies the purchase centre in acquiring them.
  • Most periodical are usually bought or purchased by subscription either directly from publisher or outer coutries can be expensive but nevertheless its beneficial venture.

Factor to consider in acquisition of periodicals

  • User needs/interests
  • Price
  • Accuracy and clarity of the periodical etc.

Government publication {official} : This is printed on the government or published by authority of movement body or agencies. Various department of Government Issue can issue the publication e.g. judiciary department government publish such documents e.g. annual report statically bulletin journal e.g. details in research


They are printed at the government expense or published by authority of government body or agency issued by movement by government department e.g. judiciary dept ministries e.g. annual report statistical bullets.

Characteristic of government publications

  • Majority of the publication are marked for limited circulation.
  • Bibliographic details about their existence are lacking.
  • Carry valuable information considered being primary document.

They aren’t obtained in common commercial bookshop and mostly acquired from the producing department.

Government publication is useful for provision of the following information

  • One can acquire statistical records of a country population or any other statistical information, which in turn can be used for planning/resources allocation.
  • Executive publication, which are mostly in paper consignment for the presidential offices provide research information. In such fields as economics, labour industries or education.
  • Congressional reports/legislative reports. These give information on parliamentary proceedings; judiciary publications will give information e.g. the courts or Supreme Court’s decision.

 A bibliography as defined by oxford dictionary is the life history of an individual and most cases an influential personality. It provides e.g. achievements of the individual, opinion held of a notable person{s}.


It is an official document giving the right of privilege to an inventor for a specified period. It is therefore granted to a person so as to accord that person protection is to encourage the individual interested in research to do so. Knowing that their discoveries will be protected against a person who may claim similar rights.


This is a technical specification of documents containing a set of conditions to be fulfilled.

Standardization is the setting of an authority or common agreement of a quality method or unit of measurement for adaptation as a common example.

Standards are used to check and maintain quality of services and products provided e.g. KBS hence standards promote overall economy of human efforts in information handling. The information centers, standards have been used as a measure of guiding, establishment of new systems thus helping in checking uniformity. E.g.  The standards of cataloguing, indexing, classification and other practices. Bodies involved in ensuring uniformity in services in information sector e.g. IFLA, KLA, and FID.


These are publications representing information in numeric data or figure. E.g. the population of a country, government’s revenue can be identified. They carry accurate and up-to-date information and give information in brief hence available information source. E.g. UNESCO statistical yearbook, almanacs, information can be easily compared.



  • General language dictionaries
  • Transation or bilingual/multilingual dictionaries
  • Subject dictionaries e.g. Harrods librarian glossary
  • Specialized language dictionaries
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