The goal of the reference language collection is to provide access to a variety of language sources and to some linguistics sources. This collection is the smallest section in reference. Reflecting the general community interest, the collection emphasizes modern Western languages, but provides a small classical core and some coverage of modern Eastern languages. At present, there are no Old or Middle English sources, no Portuguese sources, and only a small literacy or ESL (English as a Second Language) collection for speakers of Spanish as a first language. The reference 400s emphasize general interest language sources. More exotic languages are found in the circulating nonfiction 400s.
- R 400 Language. Not developed.
- R 410 Linguistics. Minimally developed, this subject is represented by polyglot dictionary sources.
- R 420 English and Old English (Anglo-Saxon). An assortment of general and a few specialized dictionaries (e.g., rhyming, dictionaries of slang), usage guides, thesauri, acronym sources, etymological sources, and sources on idioms is maintained.
- R 430 Germanic (Teutonic) languages. A small collection of basic German grammar and dictionary sources is maintained.
- R 440 Romance languages. Only a small collection of basic French sources is maintained.
- R 450 Italian, Romanian, Rhaeto-Romanic languages. A small collection of basic Italian and Romanian sources is maintained.
- R 460 Spanish and Portuguese languages. A small collection of basic Spanish and minimal Portuguese sources are maintained.
- R 470 Italic languages. A small collection of Latin dictionaries is maintained.
- R 480 Hellenic languages. This small collection of modern and ancient Greek dictionaries is maintained.
- R 490 Other languages. A small collection of dictionaries of selected other languages for which there is community interest is maintained with an emphasis on Asian and Russian languages.
Purchases and buying patterns are determined in large part by:
- electronic/Internet sources availability.
- new works.
- budget constraints.
- patron requests.
- present and potential relevance to the community.
- shelf space.
- English language sources are weeded to keep the number of different dictionaries, thesauri, usage guides, etc. to a manageable size. Until their equivalents are published, the Oxford English Dictionary (compact edition), Webster's 2nd and 3rd International Dictionaries, and the Random House Dictionary of the English Language are retained. Less notable dictionaries and usage guides are replaced every four to five years, thesauri less often.
- For languages other than English, the core of sources is maintained, but sources are weeded every five to ten years if possible, replacing with newer editions or comparable sources.