How to Do Library Research

This set of pages has information on how to do library research. In all cases, once you have located sources, be sure to evaluate them, using the evaluation guides.

Publishers--University, Commercial, Association, Government, Vanity


The publisher of a book is the company that produces (makes) it. Books must be manufactured like any other product. They need to be designed, edited, evaluated (for example, on whether they might sell), promoted, etc. Some publishers are known for publishing particular types of books: business, law, science, etc. An author must "sell" the book to an editor at that company before it will be published (often these days, publishers require an author to have an agent first; likewise agents often want authors to have published something before they will represent them.) Publishers, like the makers of all products have reputations (for instance, car manufacturers, computer companies, and stereo systems have "name" brands as well as less-known ones). Like everything else, some publishers have reputations for producing high-quality products (both the content and physical product), others have the opposite reputation, and other groups create high-quality content with low-quality bindings/paper or vice versa. Academic libraries try to purchase good quality books from reputable publishers, and as budgets grow tighter and tighter the necessity for libraries to purchase only the best materials increases--a sad necessity because it is a stronger library that has as many different reasonable points of view as possible.

University Presses

A university press is a publisher closely affiliated with a university. University press books are considered by researchers, scholars, and librarians to be highly respectable and reputable. In fact, many university libraries purchase all university press books because of this good reputation. Nevertheless it is important, as always, to keep in mind that not everything published by a university press is necessarily to be taken as 100% accurate.

University presses are usually identified by "university" and "press" in their names. Books published by a university press are different from books published by a university. For example, something published by the University of Toronto (the institution) has a different publisher than something published by the University of Toronto Press.

Example University Presses:

Cambridge University Press
MIT Press
University of Chicago Press
University Press of Colorado

Citation note: In MLA (Modern Language Association) citation style, university presses are indicated by UP:

Cambridge UP
U of Chicago P
UP of Colorado

Commercial Publishers

Commercial publishers have different reputations. While all have some degree of profitability as part of their mission, more reputable ones have a strong desire to publish well-researched and well-prepared books. In days of yore, profit margins were small, and that still may be true for select publishers. Generally speaking, this selective list has "reputable" publishers. Nevertheless, keep in mind that just because a publisher is reputable, it does not necessarily mean that everything it publishes can be trusted 100%. It is important to consider all factors when evaluating a book (purpose, author, etc.).

Example commercial publishers:

  • Important Note: Although lengthy, this is NOT a comprehensive list of reputable publishers.
    • Abrams
    • Academic Press
    • Addison-Wesley
    • Alpha Books
    • AMACOM
    • American Elsevier
    • Anchor Books
    • Arnold
    • Baker
    • Ballantine Books
    • Barnes & Noble
    • Barron's
    • BasicBooks
    • Beacon Press
    • Belhaven Press
    • Berkley Publishing Group
    • Blackwell
    • Blackwell Scientific Publications
    • Butterworth-Heinemann
    • CAB International
    • Cassell
    • Chapman & Hall
    • Charles Scribner's Sons
    • Chatham House
    • Clarendon Press
    • Crown Publishers
    • Da Capo Press
    • Dodd, Mead
    • Doubleday
    • Dover
    • Dun & Bradstreet
    • Dutton
    • Elsevier
    • Facts on File
    • Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    • Free Press
    • G.K. Hall
    • G.P. Putnam's Sons
    • Gale Research Co.
    • Garden City Publishing
    • Garland
    • GIS World
    • Gordon and Breach
    • Greenwood Press
    • Grey House Pub.
    • H. W. Wilson Co.
    • Harcourt, Brace and Company
    • Harmony Books
    • Harper
    • Harper & Row
    • HarperBusiness
    • HarperCollins Publishers
    • HarperPerennial
    • Haworth Press
    • Henry Holt
    • HLB International
    • Holt, Rinehart and Winston
    • Hoover's Business Press
    • Houghton Mifflin
    • J. B. Lippincott
    • JAI Press
    • Jossey-Bass
    • Kennikat Press
    • Kluwer Academic Publishers
    • Knopf
    • Lippincott
    • Little, Brown
    • Longman
    • Longmans, Green, and Co
    • M.E. Sharpe
    • Macmillan
    • McFarland
    • McGraw-Hill
    • Meckler
    • Merriam-Webster
    • Methuen
    • Moody's Investors Service
    • Morrow
    • National Academy Press
    • Net-Research
    • NTC Business Books
    • Oasis Press
    • Omnigraphics
    • Oryx
    • Pantheon Books
    • Penguin Books
    • Peregrine Smith Books
    • Peterson's
    • Pilgrim Books
    • Praeger
    • Prentice Hall
    • Price Waterhouse
    • Probus
    • Putnam
    • Quorum Books
    • R. R. Bowker
    • Random House
    • Reed Reference Publishing
    • Reference Press
    • Routledge
    • Rowman & Littlefield
    • Sage Publications
    • Salem Press
    • Saunders College Pub.
    • Scarecrow Press
    • Scribner
    • Simon and Schuster
    • Springer-Verlag
    • St. Martin's Press
    • Standard & Poor's Corporation
    • Standard Rate & Data Service
    • The Vanguard Press
    • The Clarendon Press
    • Twayne
    • Upstart Pub.
    • Van Nostrand
    • Viking Press
    • W. Morrow
    • W.H. Freeman
    • W.W. Norton
    • West
    • Westview Press
    • Wiley
    • Woodbine House
    • World Scientific
    • Zed Books

Although lengthy, this is NOT a comprehensive list of reputable publishers.

Professional or Trade Association, Institution, or Research Center Publishers

Various organizations publish books of interest to their members. These can be extremely valuable for researchers because the materials tend to be written by experts in a field or area for experts in the same field or area.


  • American Society of Agricultural Engineers
  • American Institute of Physics
  • American Philosophical Society
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • American Management Association
  • American Library Association
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • International Food Policy Research Institute
  • Modern Language Association of America (MLA)
  • New York Graphic Society
  • Ohio University Center for International Studies

Government Publisher

Government publications are printed with taxpayer money. They can be extremely useful for researchers because they are considered to be overall impartial and unbiased. (There are flagrant exceptions to this rule, particularly in past years, so pay close attention to the purpose of the document, especially when doing historical research.) U.S. Congressional Hearings can be extremely valuable because of the testimony by experts that can be found therein--these also provide many different points of view. A growing number of government publications are available only on the Web.

Many (but not all) U.S. federal documents are printed in Washington D.C. The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), now Government Publishing Office is the major publisher. Sometimes the source itself will identify the publisher as "GPO."

State and local (city/county) government also publish materials:
Colorado Dept. of Human Services, Office of Self-Sufficiency, Division of Aging and Adult Services

Some state documents have vague publishers' names such as: The Commission. Look at the title page or catalog record to garner other clues; the corporate author gives a more specific idea:
State of Colorado, Commission on Government Productivity

Example local government publisher:
The City of Fort Collins

Occasionally there are sources with a publisher such as "The City" and the researcher needs to look at the city or place of publication to know which city. For example:
Fort Collins, Colo. : The City

There may be a division of the city that publishes:
City of Fort Collins, Natural Resources Division

The variety of government publications can be astounding--and extremely useful for some researchers. Books that relate directly to governmental issues (city annual reports, etc.) that are published by commercial publishers should be cited accordingly.

Vanity Press

A vanity press is used by people who want to self-publish. (The author pays for the book to be made.) In the past this could be a red flag that the quality of the book was dubious at best. However, there have been and still are vanity press titles of extremely high quality. While in many cases it is still true that there are poorly written, poorly designed, and poorly edited vanity press books, there are also excellent ones. Read through an individual title to determine its quality. (There are poorly done commercial and other press titles out there!)

(español) (L'éditeur)

Casa editora

La casa publicadora: ¿Quién publica el libro?

La casa editora de un libro es la compañía que lo publica. Los libros tienen que ser manufacturados como otros productos. Necesitan ser designados, editados y evaluados (por ejemplo: si se venderán o si serán promovidos etc.) Algunas casa editoras son conocidas por publicar ciertos tipos de libros: de negocios, leyes, ciencia etc. Un/a autor/a tiene que "vender: el libro a la casa editora antes de que esta lo publique (hoy en día, muy amenudo las casas editoras requieren que el/la autor/a tenga un agente primero. De la misma manera los agentes quieren que los autores tengan algo publicado antes de representarlos). Como en toda fabricación de productos, las casas editoras tienen reputaciones (por ejemplo, fábricas de carros, compañías de computadoras, sistemas de estéreos. Estas poseen nombres muy reconocidos o menos conocidos. Como en todo, algunas casas editoras tienen la reputación de fabricar productos de alta calidad tanto en el contenido como en el producto físicamente. Otras tienen mala reputación. Otros dos grupos crean productos de alta calidad con baja calidad de papel y compaginación o vice versa. Las librerías académicas tratan de comprar libros de buena calidad de casas editoras renombradas y a medida que el presupuesto se reduce más y más la necesidad incrementa. Es una triste necesidad porque lo que hace a una biblioteca completa es el hecho de que posea tantos diferentes puntos de vista como sean posibles.


Celui qui publie le livre

L'éditeur d'un livre est la compagnie qui l'imprime et le publie. Les livres aussi, on les fabrique. On les conçoit, on les publie et on en évalue la valeur marchande. Certains éditeurs se sont fait un nom dans la publication d'un certain type de livres: commerce, droit, sciences etc.… Pour le publier, un auteur doit vendre son livre à un éditeur ( A présent, les éditeurs traitent avec l'agent de l'auteur; de ce fait, les agents aiment mieux représenter des auteurs qui ont déjà publié). Comme tout le monde en affaires, les éditeurs sont précédés de leur réputation (par exemple, les fabricant d'automobiles, d'ordinateurs, de chaînes stéréo sont porteurs de marques prestigieuses ou de marques moins connues). Certains éditeurs ont la réputation de livrer des produits de haute qualité (tant pour la couverture que pour le texte), d'autres, non. Certains groupes publient de bons livres dans des reliures ou du papier de mauvaise qualité et vice versa. Les bibliothèques universitaires essaient d'acheter des livres de bonne qualité publiés par des éditeurs réputés. Malheureusement, leur budget de plus en plus restreint, leur laisse peu de choix, triste réalité! car une bonne bibliothèque doit refléter des points de vue nombreux et divers.

Les Presses Universitaires

Les presses universitaires sont des éditeurs affiliés aux universités. Les chercheurs, les universitaires et les bibliothécaires considèrent les livres publiés par les Presses Universitaires comme respectables et de bonne réputation. En fait, les bibliothèques des universités les achètent tous, en raison de leur bonne réputation. En tout état de cause, n'oublions pas que tout ce que publient les Presses Universitaires n'est pas nécessairement exact à 100%.

On reconnaît les Presses Universitaires à leur nom: "Presses Universitaires". Les livres publiés par les Presses Universitaires sont différents de ceux publiés par les universités; par exemple, l'éditeur d'un ouvrage publié par l'Université de Toronto (l'institution) est différent de celui d'un ouvrage publié par les Presses de l'Université de Toronto.

Exemples de presses Universitaires:

Cambridge University Press
MIT Press
University of Chicago Press
University Press of Colorado

Citation note: In MLA (Modern Language Association) citation style, university presses are indicated by UP:

Cambridge UP
U of Chicago P
UP of Colorado

Ask a Librarian

Profile Photo
CSU Librarians
Ask a Research Question

Chat for Quick Help

Ask Us About:

  • Finding articles, books, & more
  • Using library resources
  • Citing your sources
Subjects: Accounting, Aerospace & Military Science, Agricultural & Resource Economics, Agricultural Biology, Agriculture (all), Agriculture & Natural Resources, Animal & Equine Science, Anthropology, Apparel & Merchandising, Art & Art History, Atmospheric Science, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Biological & Physical Sciences, Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Business (all), Business (Company), Business (Finance), Business (Industry), Business (International), Business (Marketing), Chemistry, Citation Style Guides, Communication & Journalism, Communication Studies, Composition & Communication, Computer Science, Construction Management, Counseling & Career Development, Criminology, Dance, Design, Diversity & Inclusion, Ecology, Economics, Education, Engineering, Engineering & Math, English Language & Literature, Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences, Ethnic Studies, Family & Consumer Sciences, Fermentation Science & Technology, Film Studies, Fish, Wildlife, & Conservation Biology, Food Science & Human Nutrition, Forest & Rangeland Stewardship, Geography, Geology, Government (U.S.), Health & Exercise Science, History, Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Hospitality & Tourism Management, Human Development & Family Studies, Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts, Journalism & Media Communication, Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, Legal Studies, Library & Information Science, Mathematics, Music, Natural Resources, Occupational Therapy, Organizational Leadership & Human Resources, Philosophy & Religion, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Public Health, Public Policy & Administration, Social Sciences/Human Studies, Social Work, Sociology, Soil & Crop Sciences, Sport Management, Statistics & Data Science, Sustainability, Veterinary Medicine, Water, Women's & Gender Studies

24/7 Library Help

24/7 Library Help

Connect with library staff via chat, email, phone or text.

URL: | Print Page