Steps for Finding Book Reviews

  1. Make sure you know the original publication year of the book. (Almost always, the hardcover edition appears before the paperback, so you want the year that the hardcover came out--usually the same as the copyright date on the back of the title page.) If a book was written in a foreign language and then translated into English, you want the year of the first English edition.

  2. Excellent printed reference tools (but there are others as well) are Book Review Index, Book Review Digest, Humanities Index, Social Sciences Index. They are all located on index tables on the left side of the Reference Room. In each of these tools, begin with the year of original publication and search, under the book author’s name, for at least two additional years to identify all major reviews.

  3. Write down the complete citation for each review you want to read. You can "decode" the journal abbreviations in the front of the index volume. (Hint: If you would like to find to find 4 reviews, write down at least 8, selecting longer ones because these will usually be more critical. The reason to identify twice as many as you need is so you do not have to go back to the index volumes if a journal issue you want is not available. The basic contingency principle!)

  4. Search Princeton's Main Catalog to find the location and call number of the periodical. On the Basic Search page, select "journal title" and type in the title of the journal. Omit any initial articles (a, an, the). See this page for more detailed help with the Main Catalog.

  5. Once you've found the iten, look at the "long display" to see Princeton's precise holdings. The display that results will tell you which volumes are bound or in microformat, whether any are checked out or missing, and the publication's location(s) and call number(s) in campus libraries. The display will also indicate where the most recent, unbound issues are shelved. Be sure to match the exact volume you need to the holdings information.

  6. If the periodical is located in Firestone, refer to the green sheet headed "Call Number Information" to learn the floor and region where the bound volumes are shelved, adjacent to books on the same subject. If the periodical is located somewhere other than Firestone, refer to the sheet headed "Designated Locations" to learn which building or special collection houses the volumes.

  7. To identify book reviews using electronic resources, start with the Library home page:  Select "Databases & Reference Tools / by Subject." This gives you a chart. In the General category, select "Periodical Indexes." The two we recommend for book reviews—provided the book in question has appeared in the past dozen years or so—are Expanded Academic Index and Proquest Direct - Periodical Research Library. Try a keyword (also called a basic) search using the novelist's name, one or two significant words from the book' s title, and the term reviews, but make sure you are appropriately in the current or backfile of the database, depending on when the novel came out. For example, in the backfile of either of these indexes, this would be the most precise formulation:
  8. beloved and morrison and reviews
If you have questions about any part of this procedure, do not hesitate to
confer with a reference librarian.
M. George/Princeton/Fall 1998