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EH556 -- Victorian Literature: Books: Content Type and Series

This Library Guide directs you to print and electronic information sources for Victorian Literature in all genres: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama. The Guide is selective, not comprehensive; the sources listed are representative of their type.

Books by Content Type

Books can be arranged according to content type (or type-of-literature) model, and books pertaining to literature -- both circulating and reference -- can be found among most of these types.  The following list of books by content type mostly is taken from Joan M. Reitz's Dictionary of Library and Information Science or from pages 59-62 of Thomas Mann's Library Research Models and includes those types most frequently found in the context of literature as an academic discipline.

Source Categories

Primary source: the literary work itself, as in an individual play, poem, or work of fiction, whether bound singly or as part of a collection.  Works such as essays, sermons, or speeches also may be primary sources.

Secondary source: scholarly commentary, such as analysis or criticism, on the primary source, usually in the form of a chapter, essay, or scholarly article.  Not just the literary work itself, but its author, theme, or genre (among other things) may be the subject of a secondary source.    

Tertiary source: either guides (such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, manuals) that provide background or overview information on the literary work and its context, or finding aids (bibliographies and indexes) which compile and list the scholarship written about a given topic over a given period of time.  Most tertiary sources are cataloged as reference books; the guides are considered reference sources, while the finding aids are considered reference tools.

Source Types

Anthology: a collection of materials brought together by a compiler or editor.  These materials may be primary (a collection of short stories) or secondary (a collection of critical essays).  These materials usually are found in a library's circulating collection.

Atlas/Gazetteer: an atlas is a collection of maps with accompanying written text.  A gazetteer is a dictionary/encyclopedia that comprises an alphabetic listing of place names with brief descriptive entries for those places.  Due to how the Library Of Congress Classification (LCC) works, atlases and gazetteers will be shelved near one another.  These materials usually are found in a library's reference collection.

Bibliography: an organized list of citations for works published either by or about an author or about a literary topic.  Primary bibliographies principally concern themselves with an author's output and describe the various printings and editions of an author's work.  These bibliographies are of importance to book dealers and collectors.  Secondary bibliographies list publications about an author and that author's works and are used primarily by scholars and researchers.

Catalog: a comprehensive listing of items -- both physical and online -- in the collection of a library, arranged in a systematic order to facilitate access and retrieval.  Library catalog records are focused on monographs and other complete items, not granular items like individual articles, poems, or short stories.  To search these items an electronic database or print index must be consulted.  Houston Cole Library's online catalog is named JaxCat.

Companion (sometimes called a Guide): a work that provides contextualizing information (background, definition, overview) that leads to more in-depth research on a topic and is variable in its content and arrangement.  Oxford Companions, for example, combine the features of both dictionaries and encyclopedias, while Cambridge Companions are edited anthologies of essays written by experts in the field.  Oxford companions usually are cataloged as Reference, while Cambridge companions are in the circulating collection of Houston Cole Library.  Oxford University Press has a supplemental series called Reader's Companions that are located in HCL's circulating collection.  

Concordance: an alphabetized list of words used by an author or in work(s) of an author (usually major literary texts well within the canon) that enables researchers to locate exactly where given words appear in the text.  Digital technology has simplified the compilation of literary concordances as well as made them more efficient and more effective.

Dictionary: an alphabetized list of words with their definitions and other relevant information.  Dictionaries may be general  or specialized to a subject or academic discipline.

Encyclopedia: a book or numbered set of books offering summary and overview information on a topic, usually in the form of short essays written by experts and alphabetically arranged.  Like dictionaries, encyclopedias may be either general or specialized.  With regard to literary reference works, the words "dictionary" and "encyclopedia" largely are interchangeable.

Handbook/Manual: a single-volume book that provides important information on a topic, whether author, work, period, or genre.  The content of a handbook can be similar to that found in an encyclopedia or anthology companion and may be arranged either alphabetically or systematically. 

History: an overview text that provides a foundation for further in-depth research.  A literary history may be multi volume chronologically, as for a national literature, or single-volume, as for a literary period or genre.

Index: a finding tool that lists the published work -- usually in scholarly journals and other periodicals -- on a particular subject or a combination of related academic disciplines.  Indexes offer a more detailed listing than the records in a catalog, which contains records only for full-length items such as books, journals, and newspapers.

Monograph: a book on a single subject, written by a specialist in the field and usually comprising one physical volume.  In the humanities and unlike in the physical and social sciences, monographs are the preferred scholarly format.

Yearbook: a type of annual which provides a record and evaluative commentary on the development in a particular field for a given year (and therefore is open-ended).  For literature, two important yearbooks are American Literary Scholarship and Year's Work in English Studies, both shelved as Reference in Houston Cole Library. 







Books by Series

Books may be published as stand-alone monographs and anthologies or as part of a series, which is a grouping of books related in subject or form.  In addition to by title or author/editor's name, these books can be searched in a library catalog by series title.  Below are listed some series titles for books on literature.
















Searching JaxCat for series books by series title

If the series title is known

  • Type in the series title (e.g. Cambridge companions to literature) in a True Title search box in JaxCat; a results list consisting of all the books in that series owned by Houston Cole Library should appear.
    • Once the results list is before you, use the Sort By: dropdown to view the titles by author, title (recommended), or publication date.
    • Harvest the titles/call numbers of books of interest.

To expand this search, follow the algorithm above, only instead of putting the entire series title in the True Title box, put in a shortened version (e.g., Cambridge companions to).  This expanded search can be quite useful, as there can be considerable content overlap in the arts and humanities disciplines, and the expanded search might harvest a book not centered on literature but still useful to a research project. 

Searching JaxCat for series books by individual book record

Book series titles also can be discovered through Subject or Advanced/Keyword JaxCat searches once the record for an individual book has been harvested.  If the book is part of a series, the book record should indicate it.  Click on the series title in the record, and all the books in that series owned by Houston Cole Library should be returned in a separate list.

Harvesting series book titles beyond JaxCat: the internet Simple Search

To find what other books are in a series outside of JaxCat holdings,

  • Open an internet search box (.e.g., Google Search)
    • Type in as much information as you have, the series title at the least, and the publisher as well if you have that information available (probably it would be best to enclose series and publisher each within "separate sets" of "quotation marks")
  • Among the results should be at least one link that lists all the books in the series

What if I like a series book and Houston Cole Library does not own it?

  • All JSU students may use ALLIES reciprocal borrowing to get the book from another ALLIES library
  • JSU graduate students have interlibrary loan privileges
  • JSU faculty may request the book be purchased by the library should they deem it important for their teaching or  research interests