Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to help reference librarians in academic institutions to more effectively use UN information resources to meet users' needs. Design/methodology/approach – This paper outlines the United Nations' structure, addresses the effects of misconceptions regarding the organization's boundaries, describes the categories of UN information resources and their most useful content, identifies and evaluates the most important reference tools by or about the UN, and casts light on little‐known obstacles to intellectual access in the UN information environment. Findings – Access to UN information is often hindered by the idiosyncrasies of UN documents and their records, misconceptions about the United Nations' relationships with other organizations, and a lack of in‐depth information about UN reference sources. The effects of these problems can be ameliorated, however, through the information, techniques, and strategies presented here. Originality/value – This article identifies and evaluates the UN reference sources of greatest use to general reference librarians. This is the first publication to demonstrate how indexing policies and common characteristics of UN documents impede access to UN information and to show how these barriers can be circumvented.
Reference Services Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 16, 2008
Keywords: Reference services; Information services