Reference experts announce annual Outstanding Reference Sources list for adults

The most noteworthy reference titles published in 2019 have been named to the 2020 Outstanding References Sources List, an annual list selected by experts of the Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of ALA. The list was announced today at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.

The Outstanding Reference Sources Committee was established in 1958 to recommend the most outstanding reference publications published the previous year for small and medium-sized public and academic libraries. The selected titles are valuable reference resources and are highly recommended for inclusion in any library’s reference collections.

The winners are:

“American Political Humor: Masters of Satire and Their Impact on U.S. Policy and Culture.” Jody C Baumgartner (ed). ABC-CLIO. An outstanding examination of influential creators and performers who have made a lasting impact on American culture and political discussion.

“Black Baseball, 1858-1900: A Comprehensive Record of the Teams, Players, Managers, Owners and Umpires.” James E. Brunson III. McFarland. A well-researched, ground-breaking guide to African American history in baseball. Includes essays, biographies of players, lists of baseball clubs by state, club rosters, and a directory of managers and black umpires.

“Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History.” Christopher R. Fee & Jeffrey B. Webb (eds). ABC-CLIO. A thorough, comprehensive analysis of contemporary historical conspiracy theories in the United States.

“Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture across History.” Susan de-Gaia (ed). ABC-CLIO. Addresses the fact that women have been ignored or relegated to inferior positions in many religions. This set also looks at feminist movements in religion and the transformation of pre-Christian goddesses.

“Health and Medicine through History: From Ancient Practices to 21st-Century Innovations.” Ruth Clifford Engs (ed). Greenwood. Traces the fascinating and colorful path from superstition to modern science. This work examines theories of disease causation, the role of religion in medicine, and the emergence of public health as a specialty.

“Infectious Diseases: In Context.” Thomas Riggs (ed). Gale. Provides a comprehensive overview of the clinical, social, political, and economic consequences of communicable diseases.

“The Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife Studies.” Simon J. Bronner (ed). Oxford University Press. Covers a broad scope of topics on American folklore and folklife in terms of its history, culture, and social impact.

The members of the Outstanding Reference Sources selection committee are: Cindy Craig, University of Florida, chair; Barbara Bibel, Oakland Public Library; Valerie Freeman, Johnson & Wales University; Curt Friehs, Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology; Barbara Ghilardi, Fairfield University; Jean-ann Marie Stump, Alamogordo Public Library; and Etta Verma, Credo Instruct.

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Learn more at

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