Book Reviews

Beasley's Guide to Library Research


Beasley's Guide to Library Research offers straightforward help in navigating the complex labyrinth of library research. Suitable for novice and experienced researcher alike, this revised classic is an invaluable tool for locating and using materials from research libraries anywhere in the world.

Written and organized for easy access, the reader is guided step-by-step through library rules and methods of operation, the effective use of microfilms and various cataloguing systems, and the location of materials using bibliographies, reference books, and periodical indices. Also covered are the most modern forms of research, including computer databases, inter-library loan systems, and online computer searches.

Whether the reader is a student, teacher, writer, librarian or business person, Beasley's Guide to Library Research provides the essential information that enables all library users to make the most of their research time.

David Beasley was a reference librarian for 28 years at the New York Research Libraries.



  • How To Obtain a Book or Periodical
  • Requesting a Publication
  • CD-ROMs as Indexing Services
  • Filing Request Slips
  • Publications in Microfilm
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Research by the Internet
  • Librarians and How To Deal With Them
  • Rules and How To Deal With Them


  • What a Research Library Offers
  • Where to Begin
  • Online Searching
  • The terminal: Networks; Information Retrieval Service; Data Banks; Strategy;  When Not To Use Online


  • Card Catalogs
  • Filing Quirks: Locating Series Volumes or Other Parts of Works; Requesting a Work from the Catalog
  • Book Catalogs
  • NYPL Dictionary Catalog of the Research Libraries, 1911-1971; Automated Book Catalogs; Carlyle System; Different Cataloging Arrangements; Other Catalogs in Research Libraries
    Open Shelf Reference Books
  • The Request Slip
  • Supplementary Catalogs: Authority Catalogs; Deferred Catalogs; Special Catalogs; NYPL Catalog of Government Publications in the Research Libraries; Supplementary Catalogs; Publications in Microform


  • The Bibliography: Its Forms and Uses; Bibliographies to Books; Checklists; Annotated Bibliographies; Bibliographies of Biographies; Bibliographies of Monograph Series; Bibliographies of Directories; For the Periodical [by subject area]; For Bibliographic Lists, Citation Indices, Reports; For Primary Information and Current Facts; Special Lists; For Special Materials;
  • For Government Publications
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Other Systems; METRO System; Sources in Which To Find Publications in Other Libraries; [CRL] Center for Research Libraries, Chicago; European Services, Videotex
  • Levels of Research


  • Retrievable Information: Analyzing the Subject
  • Approaches to Retrievable Information: The Researchers; The Historical Approach; The Geographic Approach; The Subject Approach; Other Approaches
  • When to Use Bibliographies, Indices, Books, Periodicals, and Manuscripts as Exemplified by Subject Area: General Knowledge; Humanities; Social Sciences; Sciences; Special Collections
  • Researching in the Performing Arts: Theatre; Music; Dance
  • Medical Libraries
  • Law
  • General Rules for When To Use What
  • When To Use Other Libraries
  • The Microform Problem - How To Deal With It


  • The New York Public Library
  • Harvard University Library
  • British Library (England)
  • Bibliotheque Nationale (France)
  • State V.I. Lenin Library of the Russian Federation
  • Saltykov-Schchedrin State Public Library
  • National Library of China
  • National Diet Library (Japan)
  • U.S. Library of Congress
  • Parliamentary Library (Canada)



University of Toronto Press

Mr. Beasley
I don't think this story has ever run in the newspaper and I'm sorry about that miss.
M. Bauslaugh

David Beasley wants people to open the door to knowledge.

Beasley, who settled in Simcoe after a career as a research librarian in New York, has written Beasley's Guide to Library Research as a tool for people to get the most out of their research projects. His book gives insight into researching projects using reference libraries—the larger metropolitan and university book depositories.

The book has been endorsed by groups including the Library Journal and is a welcome introduction to reference libraries and how they work. The book is a revision of a 1988 best-seller How to Use a Research Library, a book now out of print but among Oxford Press's top tomes.

"That book was out-of-date and the new book has added information on computers, Internet and CD-ROM use," Beasley said. "The book shows how to plan your research and how to use the Internet for time-saving steps."

Most of Beasley's references apply to larger libraries where there might be millions of books in several different languages. "When I worked with the New York public library system, I would come in contact with worldly scholars and people who just came in off the street," Beasley said.

"Big libraries can be frightening places to some people. I don't blame them. They often look like prisons with the books all locked away. "I want people to realize there are keys to opening all of those doors." There are pleasures and disappointments in doing research. He recalls stumbling across some works on both German and French transportation systems when researching a book on Who Really Invented the Automobile? (1997, Davus). He remembers requesting reference materials on a particular person and discovering that original dialogue between that person and his financial backer had just been made available 60 days previous. "That was exciting," he said. Worse times came when he invested time, money and effort into searching for a person's name. He stumbled upon a reference to a 'John Richardson' in a coded diary. Beasley hunted down people to crack the code. Once he could read the diary, he discovered it was another 'John Richardson' in the reference. "You can get so much information from a computer and Internet and CD-ROM now," Beasley said. "But you need to know how to use it to save time." He suggests would-be researchers be exact in assembling a bibliography. He says it is very important to have a full bibliography on all facts.

Beasley, who spent 28 years as a reference librarian with the New York Research Libraries, has been busy. The guide is his ninth book since 1996 and is 16th on his personal list. He's working on a book about a Canadian actor from the past; a boys' book about canoeing in Ontario; and a book about an escaped U.S. slave who came to Simcoe in 1820. "That book talks about the hardships and the difficulty of escape and the chance to create a new life here," Beasley said. "It's the story of a person's life and the highs and lows that went with it." Beasley applied his own research techniques to gathering information about this book. He used many references from the Eva Brook Donly Museum as well as a research blitz in West Virginia. He counted on various university books on both sides of the border for other help.

When it comes to research, you can't allow yourself to be distracted, Beasley said. You will run across interesting information unrelated to your project but you will have to be strict and come back to that portion later. "You will save time if you stick to your own project," he said. "People should make detailed notes on where you learned something - right down to the page number - because when you go back to check, you don't want to have to start over."

The book has five sections including general approach, how to use catalogues, tools of research, research in depth, a quick reference guide and appendix the book is intended for college students, the casual reader and professional researchers and writers.

"I wrote the book to help people with research because I believe that the more you know about a subject, the more interesting it becomes."


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