When you hear the word “bibliography,” what comes to mind? A dreaded assignment in an English class? The very last, incredibly annoying and frustrating thing you have to do before you turn in a paper? Those fears can be solved by using RefWorks, during the research and writing phases of your assignments. You can create bibliographies in hundreds of formats, custom-designed to show whatever information you want. Problem solved!

This kind of bibliography, a list of resources, is more specifically called an enumerative bibliography. Strictly speaking, the libraries’ catalog is an enumerative bibliography, as is WorldCat and many of the databases the libraries subscribe to. These are all online lists of books in a particular institution, or in a very large group of institutions. Or, in the case of many databases, they are lists of articles in journals.

Historically, lists of books have been made since, well, since there were books. One of the ancestors of the science of bibliography is Konrad Gesner, who attempted to corral all the books printed by the mid 16th century. Even back then, the number of books available was perceived as overwhelming. Gesner’s Bibliotheca universalis was a 16th century version of WorldCat!

There are MANY bibliographies that treat only a tiny piece of the spectrum of human knowledge. You can find many of these beasts on the web now, as enthusiasts create lists of things like all the works of Don DeLillo. How about an almost complete history of the space shuttle? Or a thorough grounding in economics. There are even bibliographies of bibliographies.

In a more scholarly vein, Oxford Press now has online bibliographies in many subjects. JHU has access to several of these. To find them, just type in “oxford” in the Database by name box on the libraries web site.

And you can find hundreds of published bibliographies in the library’s collections, on nearly any subject under the sun. Search in Catalyst on a topic keyword + the word “bibliography.” For example:

Bibliography is more than just lists though. Stay tuned for more about this arcane, but very useful, field.

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