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H. W. Wilson Core Collections - FAQs

Q. What are the H. W. Wilson Core Collections?

A. These products offer comprehensive collection development guides covering works for readers from preschool through twelfth grade as well as for adults. Acquisitions librarians, reference librarians and catalogers can all use these reliable guides to build and maintain well-rounded collections of the most highly recommended reference, non-fiction and fiction books. Entries provide complete bibliographic data including price, subject headings, a descriptive annotation and evaluative quotations from a review. Book reviews, indicators for starred reviews, awards and “Best Lists” are also included, when available.

Children’s Core Collection – Available online and in print.
Middle & Junior High Core Collection – Available online and in print.
Senior High Core Collection – Available online and in print.
Fiction Core Collection – Available online and in print.
Public Library Core Collection: Nonfiction – Available online and in print.
Graphic Novel Core Collection – Available online only.

The print editions of the Core Collections are offered by H.W.Wilson. For more information, visit their website at:

Q. How often are the Core Collection Databases updated?

A. The databases are updated on a weekly basis, whereas the print products are published every two years.

Q. What types of materials do the Core Collections cover?

A. The Collections include books that are published in, or distributed in, the United States and Canada and that were in print at the time that the current Collection volume went to press. Original paperback editions are included, as well as paperback reprints of essential titles that have become unavailable in hardcover. Formats collected by libraries, but that are not books, such as games and audio materials, are included in the Nonbook Materials Core Collection.

Q. How should the Core Collections be used?

A. The Core Collections titles are designed to serve these purposes:

  • As an aid in purchasing. The Collections are designed to assist in the selection and ordering of titles. Information concerning publisher, ISBN, price, and availability is provided for each title. Since titles included in the Collections are classified according to the Dewey Decimal Classification system, the Collections may be used to evaluate parts of the library collection and identify areas that should be updated or strengthened. Annotations and evaluation book review excerpts assist with the selection process.

  • As an aid in user service. Titles included at the Most Highly Recommended and Core levels are recommended works of their own kind and can be given with confidence to a user who expresses a need based on topic, genre, etc. Reference work and user service are further aided by information about grade level, sequels, and companion volumes; by the descriptive and critical annotations and by the series and subject headings. In addition, awards and best list notes are included.

  • As an aid in curriculum support. For the Collections that cover school age ranges (Children’s, Middle/Junior High, Senior High) one purpose is as support for school curricula. The classification, subject indexing, annotations, and grade level designations are helpful in identifying materials appropriate for classroom use.

  • As an aid in collection maintenance. In addition to recently published works, the Collections include titles listed in previous editions and Supplements that have retained their usefulness and are still the best titles of their kind. This information affects decisions to rebind, replace, or discard older materials.

  • As an aid in professional development. The Collections are useful in courses that deal with literature and book selection, especially in the creation of bibliographies and reading lists.

Q. What are the print supplements of the Core Collections? Are they available online?

A. The print schedule for the H.W. Wilson Core Collections historically included a cumulative, bound edition every four years. The cumulative edition includes a citation for every recommended book included in that particular collection. Between bound editions, paperback annual supplements were released that include new titles added to the collection in the previous year. The new print cycle for the Core Collections will only be a cumulative edition every two years, with no supplements. This is to improve the ease of use of the print Core Collections by limiting the places a librarian has to look for information to only one book.

Online versions of the Core Collections are updated on a weekly basis. Updates include new recommended titles as well as additions to existing book records, such as new starred reviews, best lists and award notes. The databases include not only all the titles included in the print, both the bound edition and the paperback supplements, but also books in two additional recommendation levels.

Q. Can you further explain where the Recommendation Levels are coming from—who is choosing these, how are these chosen, etc.?

A. The Recommendation Levels are assigned by the Core Collections editors with input from an advisory committee of distinguished librarians. Please see the Selection Process and Recommendation Level document for further information.

Q. How does the print edition differ from the online database?

A. The print editions contain listings for titles in the top two Recommendation Levels – Most Highly Recommended and Core. Together these two levels represent a definitive collection for small to medium public, school and academic libraries. Librarians purchasing any of these titles can be confident that their selections are of the highest value for their respective library collections.

The online databases contain records for all the titles included in the print edition plus two additional Recommendation Levels: Supplemental and Archival. Supplemental books are those recommended for inclusion in larger library collections or for in-depth study or interest in a particular subject. Archival titles were once included in the print edition, but were removed due to their print-status or because they have been superseded by a newer edition.

As with any online tool, the Core Collections databases allow for varied search and sorting capabilities, above and beyond those available within the print editions. They have the full power of EBSCOhost behind them, including SmartLinking, Book Widgets and search facets.

Q. Why does the Link "Reviews of this Title" show up in some titles and not others?

A. The Reviews of this title link should only show up for titles for which we have reviews. So if there is no link, there are no available reviews.

Q. What is the best way to get to a review for a book?

A. There are many ways to get a review for a book; two stand out as the most efficient paths:

  1. Search for a title or author from either the basic search screen or advanced search screen. On the results page, select Reviews within the Source Type facet on the left side of the screen.

  2. In Advanced Search, search for the book’s title and select Review from the Document Type list.

    As noted above, not all titles included in Core Collections include reviews.

Q: Can I apply the eHost Locals functionality to the Core Collections databases?

A. Yes. All of the Core Collections databases support Locals. Please contact Technical Support to inquire about how to set up your collection.

Q: Can I search by Dewey Decimal number? What is the best way to do so?

A. Yes, you can search by Dewey Decimal ranges using the Advanced Search option. To find books in a particular Dewey Decimal category, search for a range of numbers in the “Dewey Range” search field. For example, to find books in 512, enter “512-512” in the Dewey Range field. To find all the 500 books, enter “500-599” in the field.

Q: What are the review sources that you list in the print and online versions of Core Collections?

A. There are approximately 100 review sources utilized for the print and online editions. The most commonly listed sources include: Booklist, Choice, The Horn Book, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, VOYA, Audiofile, Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books, Christian Science Monitor, Entertainment Weekly, Library Media Connection, Los Angeles Times Book Review, New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Quill & Quire, Science Books & Films, and more.

Core Collections selection process and recommendation levels:

Selection Process and Recommendation Level document

Q. What is the EBSCO Core Collections’ Selection Process and Policy?

A. The following is the EBSCO Core Collections’ Selection Process and Policy.

Selection Process:

  1. Titles are chosen through a systematic surveillance of review literature with the express purpose of assisting with the collection development decisions made in small and middle size libraries. Content specialists and highly trained collection development staff nominate preliminary title selections. Initial recommendations are obtained from a variety of review sources, including: publisher catalogs, starred review and best lists included in respected industry periodicals, award winning title lists as well as other review source recommendations. Examples of journals used for review purposes include: Booklist, VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, School Library Journal, Horn Book, and Library Journal.

  2. A panel of librarian nominators - with expertise in the materials referenced in the Collections and knowledge of current trends facing libraries – evaluate the initial choices made by the specialists. Nominators are encouraged to emphasize materials that build a well-rounded collection which includes all viewpoints and opinions, as well as fulfills the core mission of the library. All nominators are given access to a number of well-respected review sources to ensure the quality of their assessments is thorough and unbiased. These nominators also have the opportunity to add titles to the Collections as appropriate.

  3. Titles are evaluated according to standard library collection development review criteria which include the following: authoritative nature of the work, quality of content, usefulness and intended purpose, relevance to audience or community, contribution to depth and breadth of collection, enduring value/demand and cost relative to overall value.

  4. All titles selected for the Core Collections have received positive reviews in professional journals and/or have been selected by librarians who are experts in their field.

Advisory Board Review:

On a periodic basis an advisory committee is convened to discuss current issues facing libraries and resulting changes in collection development trends and material usage. The Advisory Board is charged with providing overall assessment of the collection, advising editors in the new directions and focus needed to enhance the collection, and providing guidance on re-evaluating material in the previous print edition, which may include removing titles from recommendation.

Recommendation Levels:

Most Highly Recommended – Designated as a priority purchase for all libraries; listed in print and online editions.

Core Collection – Recommended purchase for a well-rounded collection; listed in print and online editions.

Supplementary – Acceptable title for in-depth subject collections or larger libraries; listed only in online database.

Archival – Titles that were once at higher recommendation levels, but that have been removed. Reasons for removal include: out-of-print status, out of date content, new edition, etc.

See also:

H.W. Wilson Core Collections Use Cases