Since the first edition was published in 1958, "Subject Collections" has been a standard reference work, providing access by subject to special collections as reported by college, public, and special libraries and museums in the U.S. and Canada. The seventh edition is a timely update, for since the publication of the last one in 1985, much has changed in the library world
This edition contains 65,818 entries for collections held by 5,882 institutions. There is information on 879 libraries and 13,266 collections not included in the last edition. Entries are classified under 15,875 subject headings, including 3,728 headings new to this edition. More libraries than ever before have reported collections on the following topics: Eastern European nations, African American cultures, gays and lesbians, ecology and the environment, feminism and women's rights, music and theater, and ethnic groups (especially Muslims)
For each collection the following information is provided: name of the institution housing it; telephone, fax, and electronic mail numbers; and general description of holdings. The type and amount of information provided varies, depending on the institution, the collection's size, and other factors. The guide follows the format used in the previous edition. Subject headings are based, with some adaptations, on the current edition of the Library of Congress subject headings list. Under each heading, entries are arranged alphabetically by state, then by city, and then by the name of the library
About a quarter of the libraries that received mailings did not revise their entries. In these cases, the entries appear as they did in the sixth edition and have been marked with a dagger. The compilers received completed questionnaires until August 1992. There is no mention of the number or percentage of the questionnaires that were returned, although the editor reports that they were "phenomenal in number, overwhelming both editors and publishers.
Like any guide relying on a questionnaire, the project is only as complete as the number of institutions that take the time and effort to respond. A spot check of the "National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections" revealed several omissions from "Subject Collections". Nevertheless, libraries that serve a research-oriented clientele will want to make the seventh edition an essential purchase.