Trade Bibliographies and Collection Development

by Moya K. Mason

Trade bibliographies are alerting devices that make no statements on the value of the works cited (Katz 1980,252-254). Their main purpose is to list titles that are currently available from a whole series of publishers, within a geographic area. For example, Whitaker's Books in Print concentrates on materials published in Great Britain, while Canadian Books in Print will contain everything that is currently available from Canadian publishing houses. The first volume of Canadian Books in Print covers authors and titles and the second, subjects. If a desired book is out of print, a librarian may decide to replace it with an alternative title, or place it on a desiderata or wish list.

Trade bibliographies provide basic purchasing data, with "information...gathered from the publishers, and individual items listed not examined by the compiler of the trade bibliography" (Katz 1992,66). They are annual publications that are supplemented throughout the year to incorporate information pertaining to newly published materials, titles gone out of print, and price changes (Katz 1992,101). Although trade bibliographies do not make evaluative judgements on materials, they give a lot of helpful information, including: complete titles, correct spelling of authors' and coauthors' names, ISBN, editors, LC or Dewey numbers, publishers' information, years of publication, and the price (Katz 1980,124).

The listed price is helpful for acquisition librarians who are trying to stay within a budget, but as Magrill and Corbin suggest, these prices can be extremely useful for preparing appraisals on commonplace books (Magrill 1989,124). Since many donors would like tax receipts for the books they give a library, the librarian, if the books are desirable, will probably decide not to go to the expense of a formal appraisal, opting instead to use a trade bibliography (Magrill 1989,221). In addition, trade bibliographies can be used for checking items listed in a library's desiderata file to find out if something has been reprinted (Magrill 1989,221). They are also a handy tool if a library is trying to expand a particular subject area of their collection. Supplements such as Bowker's Subject Guide to Books in Print, which uses Library of Congress Subject Headings, can be valuable.

As can be seen, trade bibliographies are important tools for collection development, but they also have their restrictions. For one, such bibliographies confine their materials to the geographic area in which the publishers operate, and "nontrade publications, such as textbooks, government documents, encyclopedias, and dissertations, are not listed in trade bibliographies" (Evans 1995,493). They also limit their scope to materials that are for sale by participating publishing organizations (Katz 1992,67). These tools are not evaluative and should not be used exclusively for library selection. Trade bibliographies must be used with reviews and subject bibliographies (Katz 1992,100).

Trade bibliographies are useful in many ways to acquisition librarians, including: the collection of particular subjects using Subject Guides; finding out if an item is available and how much it costs; and from which company and where it can be purchased. The major caution with trade bibliographies is that they should only be used as alerting tools, and never solely for evaluating selection.

Related Papers

Document Delivery: Panacea for the Crisis in Science Serials?
Academic Research, Scholarly Publishing, and the Serials Crisis
Collection Development for the Sciences in an Academic Setting
Grey Literature: History, Definition, Acquisition, and Cataloguing
Library Catalogues and Collection Development
National Bibliographies and Collection Development
Subject Bibliographies and Collection Development
Publishers Catalogues and Collection Development


Evans, G. Edward. 1995. Developing Library and Information Center Collections, 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, CO.: Libraries Unlimited.

Katz, William A. 1992. Introduction to Reference Work Volume I: Basic Information Sources, 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Katz, William A. 1980. Collection Development: The Selection of Materials for Libraries. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Magrill, Rose Mary, and John Corbib. 1989. Acquisitions Management and Collection Development in Libraries, 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association.

Copyright © 2024 Moya K. Mason, All Rights Reserved

Back to: Resume and More Papers