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Bibliographer's Manual

Table of Contents | I. Introduction | II. Collection Development at UCB | III. Bibliographers | IV. Functions & Activities | V. Appendix



III. Purpose and Duties of Bibliographers

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A. Purpose

  • Bibliographers are subject specialists, a generalist within a specialty who strives for a balanced view of the discipline while responding to specific academic needs and interests. The bibliographer helps to develop the Libraries' collections in support of the University's research and instructional missions.

B. Subject Expertise

  • Developing subject expertise is an ongoing and vital process. Some activities that will aid in this process include:

    • Keep up with changes and happenings in the field.
    • Know the department's focus, curriculum, and research interests; the department's web page is helpful.
    • Know how the Libraries are used by your discipline.
    • Be as familiar as possible with the department's faculty and their current research activities.
    • Promote yourself as a vital part of the faculty's teaching and research by responding quickly and efficiently to requests for help or materials.
    • Offer to teach classes that will help their students use the Libraries more efficiently.
    • Often review your subject's profile for the approval plan.
    • When possible and practical, seek the advice of the department's faculty when considering a large purchase or when considering a change that may affect them.
    • Seek out and join a listserv of librarians in your discipline.
    • Attend discipline meetings if practical.
    • Stay familiar with journals in the field and identify new journals of potential interest.
    • Offer research help to both graduate and undergraduate students in the discipline.

      It is highly recommended that the bibliographer set up a Subject Guide web page, which will supplement library collections by linking with supplementary resources. Examples of such links would be association pages, outstanding Web sites in the subject, pathfinders, specialized library catalogs, etc. Subject Guides have been defined as "general guides that bibliographers create for the departments/programs they serve."

C. Duties

  • The duties of a bibliographer are presented in detail in IV. Functions and Activities of this manual. Briefly, duties of a bibliographer include:

    • Recommend relevant materials for purchase
    • Maintain a collection development policy for the discipline
    • Identify special acquisition opportunities
    • Interact with donors, etc.
    • Manage collections
    • Act as liaison to department
    • Manage funds
    • Cooperate both within and outside the Libraries to maximize value of funds and collections

D. Temporary or Interim Bibliographer

  • In the event that a bibliographer leaves, resigns, or otherwise becomes unable to continue bibliographic duties, a temporary bibliographer may be appointed by the Faculty Director, Collection Development. In most cases, a temporary bibliographer will be expected to take care of approval books, orders, requests, and liaison work. Unless agreed to at the outset, temporary bibliographers will not be expected to teach or take part in orientation for that department.

E. Faculty Liaison

  • The importance of this role cannot be overstated. Only through a thorough knowledge of the department—its research, its degrees, its faculty, its courses—can the bibliographer anticipate the collection needs of that department. It should always be top priority to establish and maintain good communication with a departmental library committee or library representative and other interested faculty of the teaching departments. Distribute library information such as your name and how you can be reached, brochures, instructions for putting materials on reserve, how to request the purchase of new materials, etc., to all new faculty and inform all faculty on possibilities for library use instruction for students. The bibliographer may also offer his or her assistance in planning and coordinating student library assignments. The subject bibliographer's work as liaison is an important component in building academic partnerships with the Libraries as well as building the collection.


    In order to be effective, a bibliographer must be aware of programs, areas of excellence, and degrees granted in departments for which resources are intended. These are primary factors in collection development. Sources of this information may be a departmental program review or web site.

F. Fund Management

  • Due to the budget process, final amounts for each subject are often not available until after the start of the fall semester. In such a case, operating budgets will be the same as the previous academic year until the new budget has been distributed.


    The amount assigned to each discipline is based upon the previous year's budget. If the bibliographer feels that changing circumstances in a department would warrant a change in budget, a request for a budget increase should be made to the bibliographer's representative on the Bibliographers Budget Advisory Committee, or the Faculty Director, Collection Development, for consideration.


    Information pertaining to budgets, both allocations and amount remaining, is available online through the Management option in the staff mode of Chinook. Reports will be distributed periodically by the Faculty Director for Acquisitions.