The bibliography and ready reference collection (Bib, Ref and Reading Room collections) includes nearly 3,550 titles, many of which are located in the Society's reading room. The collection consists of bibliographies of those topics, persons, regions, periods, and classes of publications in or about which the Society collects printed materials, as well as standard reference sources. Many of the volumes in the collection record the Society's holdings as noted by our library symbol (MWA or AAS) and are updated by library staff as new items are acquired. Several of these annotated bibliographies are housed in the stacks, and thus need to be requested from the readers' services staff. All annotated bibliographies may be found by doing a subject search for annotated bibliography in the online catalog.
General bibliographies include Americana, state, local, and regional bibliographies, as well as bibliographies for the West Indies and Bermuda. The collection also contains bibliographies of the major colonial and Victorian writers, notable non-literary figures of eighteenth and nineteenth-century America, bibliographies of early American fiction, cookbooks, songbooks, penmanship and letter- writing books, children's literature, American books of color plates, federal government documents, dime novels, American fishing books and early American sports books, medical imprints, popular music, anti-Masonic literature, travel books, and technical publications prior to 1831, to name but a few of the topical ranges. Bibliographies of newspapers and periodicals are one of the largest groups in the collection.
Other reference sources include atlases, city directories, encyclopedias, dictionaries, periodical indices, published catalogs of special collections at other institutions, and an extensive array of general genealogical materials. The largest reference source in the collection is The National Union Catalog, which reproduces in book form the author and other main-entry printed cards in the Library of Congress card catalog, through 1955. There is also a twenty-year, multi-volume supplement to the NUC. Both of these are located in the Reading Room.
A group of ancillary bibliographies from England are also part of the collection. These include bibliographies of British autobiographies, ballad entries in the Stationers' Register, catalogs of prints, drawings, and printed music in the British Museum, and seventeenth-century descriptive catalogs by London booksellers.