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What reference books do you feel are necessary in an elementary library?

I am wondering what to do with these dusty encyclopedias, dictionaries, and fact books.  I do think elementary students should learn how to use these reference tools but I don't see students actually using them when the information is online.  I have searched for information as to what is most essential to keep / have in reference books for the elementary library but with no luck.  Any one care to share their thoughts on this?  I could really use some thoughts other than my own.

Shelly Haskell

Knotts Island Elementary Media Specialist

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I also have reference books in my elementary library.  I often wonder why I have them!  When our system goes to our planned 1:1 student/device plan next year, I am not sure I will keep most of the reference books.  I certainly do not intend to spend any money on any reference books in the coming years.  I am so excited about the digital conversion,but I also worry that students may be pulled away from "print" sources to purely electronic ones.  There are many questions yet to be answered by usage data, but still I am excited about our future!

I am struggling with this issue also. I moved to a new library this year which doesn't have any current reference materials. Do I spend what little money I have on dictionaries and encyclopedias?
I am getting ready to start in a primary school library and when I visited, most of the reference books were 20 years old. Don't think they have left the shelf in years. One set on encyclopedias from 2012 were used to show children what an encyclopedia is but most reference work is done with online databases which are more current and can be read to them. Don't think I will spend money on reference books. Gonna target non-fiction that relates to standards to use for print sources.

I am starting a new school library next year and I didn't order any reference materials. We are a 1:1 school and have Worldbook Online, Gale, EBSCO, etc. That's all that gets touched anyway. My old school had shelves of them and I weeded down to encyclopedias and dictionaries last year. Still didn't move. I do like to have some almanacs as the kids love them but just stick them in the zeros and let the kids have fun with them.

I am down to World Book(still my favorite paper encyclopedia especially for teaching basic searching), Lands and People, and a few atlases (kids love to look at maps this way even now), dictionaries, thesauri, Bartletts. Everything else is online. I will probably weed the reference section down again before school starts. It is has become a very small section but does come in handy more than you might expect.

I've got a shelf of reference books which are never touched. All the classrooms have sets of dictionaries and thesauri, atlases etc so the ones here don't get used. The only 'reference' books that do get used are Guiness Book of World Records and all of the Lego/Star Wars encyclopedias. We have a subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica so I usually get kids using that. I'm doing a stock review shortly and think that my reference collection will likely disappear apart from a few books. 

Just as an update to this. I did weed the collection and replaced old books with some new up to date books. We now have some new atlases, bilingual dictionaries, picture dictionaries and some encyclopedias. They've been used a lot both by the kids and teachers. So I guess I was wrong. For me they still play a big role in my library. The collection is smaller but it is focused on our needs and wants. 

I have weeded so much of this section.  Thanks for sharing what you have added and is used by your school.  Maybe some new life in this area is more needed than I first realized.

They love the encyclopaedias I bought on various things, for example this series:

And they love the new dictionaries I bought too. I keep finding them all over the place and kids asking me where they are. The still love the Ripleys Believe it or Not and Guinness World Records but the other books get a lot of use too.

I think they are still of use so that students can see how information is organized, even online. The idea of topic development can be taught with the use of print and/ or digital resources. I just did a lesson today that included dictionaries, encyclopedias, and nonfiction books. The next lesson will be to search for the same information using digital resources, but they've already seen they can get basic, big picture information from the print sources. 


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