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Charles Dickens: Reference Shelf

research guide for TCNJ affiliates

Dickens Reference (Tertiary)

The following Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) reveal literary criticism, mostly from books and book chapters. Cataloging librarians developed LCSH to describe book content. But tweaking the canned subject searches reveals even more secondary criticism published in journal articles. The key is to retain "criticism" or one of the other sub-divisions as a keyword (or search term). For example, the keywords Charles AND Dickens AND criticism if restricted to the Subject field reveal about a thousand peer-reviewed articles published in Dickens Quarterly, Victorian Studies, Nineteenth-Century Fiction, and other journals.

Most useful LCSH:Charles Dickens portrait (Frick Digital Collections)

Additional LCSH:

Employ LCSH in WorldCat, a "union catalog" of tens of millions of book records, to retrieve many additional titles held by other libraries relevant to your Dickens research. Request items of interest via our interlibrary loan service.

What is a catalog?

A catalog is a "comprehensive list of the books, periodicals, maps, and other materials in a given collection, arranged in systematic order to facilitate retrieval (usually alphabetically by author, title, and/or subject). In most modern libraries, the [paper] card catalog has been converted to machine-readable bibliographic records and is available online. The purpose of a library catalog... is to offer the user a variety of approaches or access points to the information contained in the collection" (ODLIS).

Gitenstein Library's web scale discovery service—an extension of the online catalog—remains the best option for finding books and e-books held by our library. It now incorporates additional media (e.g., journal articles) from licensed databases and scholarly sources on the open web.

These reference works provide biographical essays, authors' publishing histories, and/or bibliographies—often annotated—of primary (e.g., author interviews) and secondary (i.e., criticism) sources.



A companion is a "handbook intended to be used in connection with the study of a particular subject or field (examples: The Cambridge Companion to Ralph Ellison and The Oxford Companion to Philosophy). This type of reference work is often an edited collection of essays" (ODLIS).

A handbook is a "single-volume reference book of compact size that provides concise factual information on a specific subject, organized systematically for quick and easy access" (ODLIS).




A dictionary is a "single-volume or multivolume reference work containing brief explanatory entries for terms and topics related to a specific subject or field of inquiry, usually arranged alphabetically. The entries in a dictionary are usually shorter than those contained in an encyclopedia on the same subject..." (ODLIS).




A chronology is a "book... that lists events and their dates in the order of their occurrence. Most chronologies are limited to a specific period (example: Roman Empire), event (World War II), or theme (women's history)," or, as is the case here, a chronology in the life of a literary figure (ODLIS).


An encyclopedia is a "book or numbered set of books containing authoritative summary information about a variety of topics in the form of short essays, usually arranged alphabetically by headword or classified in some manner. An entry may be signed or unsigned, with or without illustration or a list of references for further reading" (ODLIS).



Study guide:

Humanities Librarian

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David C. Murray
TCNJ Library,
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