ILS-504 Information and Reference Resources and Services
Reference tools for a specific population
Main index
Examination of tools Analysis of queries prior to a reference interview ©2003-2007 Amy Ranger

[Note: This paper was originally written in July, 2003, for the course ILS-504, Reference and information resources and services, taught by Dr. Yan Quan Liu, at Southern Connecticut State University.]

Examination of Tools

Biographical references
Directories, online
Geographic resources
Government documents


Fuad-Luke, Alistair. (2002). Eco-design: the sourcebook. San Francisco : Chronicle Books.

Scope: A resource for finding products, designers, and manufacturers of eco-friendly items that are either recycled, recyclable, renewable, or energy efficient as well as innovative, attractive and consumer friendly. Selection of products and materials is based upon the author’s personal interests as an environmentalist and his views as a teacher of “green design.” Four primary sections and their subdivisions: Objects for living (furniture, lighting, appliances, textiles & fashion, transport, leisure & recreation, other domestic products); Objects for working (in the office, transport, public spaces, architecture, machines, other products); Materials (biosphere, technosphere); Resources (manufacturers, materials, designers, organizations, web sites). Information that may be included for each product: name and nationality of the designer/designer-maker or manufacturer/country if the item is designed in-house; primary materials or components; main eco-design strategies applied to the design of the product; important design awards recognizing eco-design. Physical description: 352 p., col. ill., 21 cm. Bibliographical references, resources, glossary, index. Cost: $35.00.

Comments: Data is cross-referenced to easily find designers, manufacturers, materials, and strategies. Colored tabs at the upper right corner permit quick access to the different sections. The book is nicely designed, with good color illustrations, in a portable format. I purchased this book for my home reference library for design ideas. It offers a look at new and innovative tools. This resource would be useful for anyone interested in products designed to be eco-friendly. Product prices not included; the compact size means that small type fonts were used, making the book hard to read without glasses. Therefore, the book is recommended with only minor reservations for academic libraries; it is especially appropriate for those institutions that offer graphic and industrial design. This work is also suitable for design firms, architects, and home libraries.

Stevens, Norman D., & Stevens, Nora B. (Eds.). (1982). Author’s guide to journals in library and information science. New York : Haworth Press.

Scope: Provides information on the policies and practices of major library and information science journals for potential authors. Includes a selected bibliography of articles on professional writing in general and the library press in particular. Indexes associations, keywords, and subjects. Information on each journal: Title, subscription address, price, frequency, circulation, affiliation, whether it is indexed/abstracted, manuscript address, editorial policy, audience, preferred topics. Also includes: inappropriate topics, regular features, reviews, policy on accepting student papers, publication restrictions, cover letter requirements, abstract requirements, number of copies to submit, prescribed length of articles, style manual policies, availability of instruction form from the publisher. Additionally, information covers the required format for submitting manuscripts, acknowledgments upon receipt of submissions, notification time, review process (board and/or external reviewers), criticism, acceptance rate, publication time lag, allowable revisions, proofs and proof corrections, option for early publication, page charges (author subsidization of publication), copyright policy, fee (payment, if any, to author), policies concerning reprints of articles or copies of the issue to author. Physical description: 183 p., 24 cm. Cost: unknown.

Comments: Publication date of 1981 is a major weakness, but it does provide a starting point for someone interested in writing articles on the library profession. It also can be viewed as a historical snapshot of the publishing industry: there were more journals, and more publishers, providing information to librarians 20 years ago.

Thomas, James L., & Thomas, Carol H. (Eds.). (1981). Academic library facilities and services for the handicapped. Phoenix, AZ : Oryx Press.

Scope: Provides information about accessibility, special equipment and the services of academic libraries in the United States available to handicapped students. Intended audiences are disabled individuals who may be making plans for higher education, and the people who work with them, as well as librarians evaluating the services of diverse institutions. Information was compiled through responses to questionnaires sent to all colleges and universities in the United States and territories, including the Canal Zone, Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Information included for each facility: institution and library names, branch libraries (if any); address, telephone number(s); name and title of contact person. Describes accessibility in each facility, including aisle and table measurements, stairs, ramps, elevators, etc., special equipment (Braille typewriters, tape players, etc.) and special services, such as readers. Arrangement is alphabetical by state, then by the name of the institution. Physical description: 568 p.; 29 cm. Bibliographical references. Cost: $55.00.

Comments: Published over 20 years ago, this print directory is outdated. Legal requirements in education, technological innovations, and educational institutions have all changed since this book was published. The Western Michigan University Libraries have 21 other monographs on this topic, as well as links to web sites offering similar data. The resource offers value only as an introduction to the concept of library facilities for special populations (disabled students), and provides a historical snapshot of the importance ascribed to facilities by college libraries and librarians at that time.

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Directories, online

Anderson, Margaret Vail. (Compiler). (2003). Digital Librarian: a librarian’s choice of the best of the web. Retrieved June 30, 2003, from

Scope: The Librariana section of Digital-Librarian provides links to web sites related to librarianship. The main page of the site offers 485 links, including the see also links to eleven major categories, wherein each category is further subdivided and cross-referenced. The major categories are: Archives and manuscripts (274 links, see also: art; history; images); Book collecting and book history (578 links); Books and reading (490 links, see also: directories: newspapers; literature; magazines and journals); Children’s literature (554 links, see also: electronic texts; languages; mythology); Directories: libraries (138 links); Directories: publishers; Electronic texts and primary sources (721 links, see also: audio, video, multimedia; French literature); Internet subject guides (55 links, see also: directories); Links-to-links (93 links); Reference (591 links, see also: calculators; maps; notable); Search and navigation tools (348 links, see also: internet subject directories). Minor categories also offer a substantial number of links. These include History (766 links, see also: African Americans; Asian resources; Classics and Ancient World; genealogy; Islam; Judaism; Latin American resources; Medieval and Renaissance studies; Middle East; Native American resources; railroads and waterways; The Southwest; women's resources); Images (819 links, see also: architecture; art; gardening; sheet music); Literature (498 links, see also: languages; performing arts).

Comments: A note at the top of each page within the site indicates when the links were last hand-checked, and when and by whom the page was last updated. Brief notes, such as “free information, but you have to sit through a 10-second advertisement” or a minimal statement of responsibility are next to most links. I was impressed by the breadth and depth of sites covered here, some of which were easily found with a keyword search on Google, but not all. The site provides links to a wide variety of topics that have been vetted by a librarian. That and the fact that the links are regularly hand-checked make this directory a good resource for users seeking authoritative web sites. I did not find an explanatory page or FAQ; there is no search tool. Even so, the logical layout, alphabetized links (by name of site), ease of use, and free access make this web directory a mandatory bookmark for anyone wanting to find library-related, web-based information.

Sherman, Chris., & Price, Gary. (2001). Invisible web directory. Retrieved June 30, 2003, from

Scope: Finding hidden internet resources search engines can’t see (subtitle serves as scope note). Eighteen major categories cover art and architecture; bibs/library catalogs; business and investing; computers and internet; education; government information; health and medical; legal and criminal; news and current events; public records; real-time information; reference; science; searching for people; social sciences; transportation; U.S./world history.

Comments: Pull-down menus allow for easy searching. I performed three searches to learn about the types of ‘invisible’ sites that are usually overlooked by other search engines. I selected public records in both pull-down (category and sub-category) menus, and clicked the button next to the sub-category menu. Links to almost 30 web sites were displayed; available data ranged from California school evaluations, to a State of Alaska government database of occupational and professional licenses, to reported criminal activities in Chicago over the past 90 days. A search in the art and architecture section yielded links to 5 diverse databases including: archINFORM (an international architectural database); the Council on Tall Buildings; Frank Lloyd Wright building locator; SPIRO, the architecture slide library at UC Berkeley; and the University of Washington Libraries Cities and Buildings database. The site was designed as a companion to the book of the same name: although the scope is broad and the collection drawn from a variety of sources, it is by no means complete. Includes FAQ, about this site, author biographies, links to related sites, and chapters of the book (available as PDF). This directory has a lot to offer: its primary significance is that it shows researchers that the data retrieved by a typical search engine represents a minute portion of information on the world wide web. Very useful: bookmark this site.

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Crystal, David. (Ed.) (1998). Cambridge factfinder. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

Scope: Contains facts related to diverse areas of knowledge drawn from the Cambridge Encyclopedia, presented in a thematic manner by fields or systems of information, using a detailed table of contents. Cross-references and an inclusive alphabetical index allow for easy searching. Major areas of knowledge include: the universe; the Earth; environment; natural history; human beings; history; human geography; society; religion and mythology; communications; science and technology; arts and culture; knowledge; sports and games. Physical description: 3rd ed., pbk.; xx, 891 p., ill., maps; 25 cm. Includes index. Cost: under $35.00

Comments: Information is clearly presented. Variety of topics and details presented make it a useful reference tool. The human geography section, for example, provides data for each country: local name, English name, time zone (relative to GMT), area, population, [government] status, capital, language(s), ethnic groups, religions, physical features, climate, currency, economy, GNP, history, and maps. The universe category offers data on the solar system: meteor showers, historic comets, the Sun, solar eclipses, planetary data, planetary satellites, and maps of the Moon with Latin and English names of its features. Sports coverage runs from angling (fishing) to yachting, including chess and water skiing. Recent winners are listed for major competitions. Most of the data is presented in lists, tables, or charts; not in narrative form. British orientation; metric measures used throughout. Maps and illustrations are black and white, difficult to decipher in places. Does not include addresses for governing bodies. Print format requires regular updates to remain current and relevant. Format is easy to use and portable. The book seems to combine many of the best features of an encyclopedia, almanac, and yearbook, but serves primarily as a handbook of factual information. Recommended for all libraries: home, school, public, academic.

Heisinger, Kathryn B., & Marcus, George H. (1993). Landmarks of twentieth-century design : an illustrated handbook. New York : Abbeville Press.

Scope: A study of more than 400 objects considered landmarks of 20th-century design, selected either for innovative form, material, or manufacturing technique, or their place in the history of style, culture or technology. Chapters organized by decade. Topics covered range from architecture to home furnishings and appliances, from graphic design in posters and fabrics, to cutlery, glassware and ceramics. Biographical information is cross-referenced to illustrations of objects created by the designer. Page layout is evenly divided between illustrations and text. Physical description: 1st ed., cloth; 431 p., ill. (some col.) ; 28 cm. Includes designer biographies, bibliographical references and index. Cost: $55.00.

Comments: This book has been printed on a heavy, low-gloss paper using a san serif typeface; it presents a clean, easy to read design. Illustration captions include designer, manufacturer, material used, dimensions in metric and standard measurements, and owner of item pictured. Colleagues at the Philadelphia Museum of Art formed the editorial board that selected the landmarks. Color illustrations comprise about 25% of the total, more, in my opinion, would have been better. Because the book is limited to about 40 objects per decade it cannot offer in-depth studies of major design movements. Index is well done: organized by designer, manufacturer, name of item (in italics) or style (in parentheses), with page numbers of illustrations noted in italics. A broad but solid reference for designers and visual artists, this resource deserves a place in academic and museum libraries.

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New York Times on the Web Learning Network. (2003). On this day. New York : The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 30, 2003, from

Scope: Subtitled ‘today’s highlights in history.’ Date, day of the year, number of days remaining in the year noted in the upper right corner of the page. User may view a previous date via a link below the date. Another link leads to the Daily Lesson Plan and information for integrating the On this day site into the classroom. A sidebar allows users easy navigation within the New York Times on the Web Learning Network. Three sections provide information for students, teachers, or parents. Primary focus of the site concerns major and minor events which have taken place on this day in history. Major events are briefly noted, with links to the full articles. A small graphic facsimile of the NYT front page from the date in question, and a link to “buy a reproduction of this or any front page since 1851,” appears next to the briefs. Minor events and birthdays (current and historic) follow major events. Includes a photo of a notable living person born on this date, with minimal biographical information. Also notes birth and death dates for the historic persons born on this date, including occupation and age at death. Source material provided by the Associated Press; UMI provided graphic image of the historic front page.

Comments: Registration required to view site; information provided is notable in its brevity. There is minimal, low-key advertising; it is a known authoritative source with pleasant design and working hyperlinks. This almanac is concise, informative, and easy to use; therefore, a hypertext link to it is appropriate for all libraries.

Thornton, Gary. (Ed.). (2003). Los Angeles Almanac [online ed.]. Montebello, CA : Given Place Publishing Company. Retrieved June 30, 2003, from

Scope: A comprehensive online reference work focusing on the city and county of Los Angeles and area communities. Includes more than 1,200 pages of information selected from public and private sources, most referenced with hyperlinks. Title bar provides links for L.A. news, L.A. traffic, L.A. weather, L.A. seismic activity, write to us, search. “Did you know?” section offers brief facts on the region. Sidebar to the right provides hyperlinks for an A to Z index, annual events for the current month, government job listings for L.A. and Orange Counties, other Southern California job links, visitor information, average daily temperatures, sunrise/sunset times, L.A. links, find people/businesses, find court records, California lottery, L.A. maps. L.A. pictures, and “About the Almanac.” Thirty-three categories are arranged alphabetically in two columns of links, from Agriculture to Weather. The Agriculture section is further subdivided by Farmers markets, Farms, Agricultural products, and Livestock. Health is further subdivided by Hospitals, Health, Disease incidences, Infant birth weight, Pace of life, Health information, Vital statistics. History includes links to Headline history, Historical sites and structures, Early L.A. history, Mexican Los Angeles, Miscellaneous L.A. history, History-oriented organizations, Other pages of historical interest. The Weather section offers links to Temperature, Cloudiness, Precipitation (rainfall), Snow, Humidity, Sunrise/sunset, and Miscellaneous (Santa Anas). The home page for the site ends with a pair of quotes on the community, one historical and the other contemporary.

Comments: This is one of the most inspiring sites I have visited. Miscellaneous facts have been compiled and presented in tabular form, with links to primary sources. The link to L.A. traffic provides interactive maps by county highways or city streets depicting real-time accidents, traffic slowdowns, and average speeds. The section “about the almanac” states that the editor/publisher works on the site continually and is not responsible for outside content. I did not find any dead links. Site offers a search feature and index. Free. It would be useful for a wide range of individuals. Recommended for all libraries, and for anyone seeking information on the area, either historical or current.

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Encyclopædia Britannica Online. (2002). Year in Review, 2002. Retrieved June 30, 2003, from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.

Scope: Covers the year in events by Date (Calendar, Disasters); People of 2002 (Nobel Prizes, Biographies, Obituaries, World affairs); Events of 2002 (Agriculture and food supplies, Anthropology and archaeology, Architecture and civil engineering, Art, antiques and collections, Computers and information, Earth sciences, Economic affairs, Education, Environment, Fashions, Health and disease, Law, crime and law enforcement, Libraries and museums, Life sciences, Literature, Mathematics and physical sciences, Media and publishing, Military affairs, Performing arts, Religion, Social protection, Sports and games). $59.95 annual registration.

Comments: Alphabetical organization, nice layout, easy to use. Author attributions are noted at the end of each article. Special features include search function and spelling advice, options to email, print, and cite the article. It is an understatement to describe this is as a thorough resource. I was impressed enough while previewing it that I signed up for the premium service and look forward to using it throughout the year ahead. The fact that this is a known and reliable authority combined with concise information on a wide range of topics makes it a recommended resource for home and school libraries.

Type Directors Club. (n.d.) Typography 10 : the annual of the Type Directors Club. New York : Watson-Guptill Publications.

Scope: This work displays 212 winning entries of the Type Directors Club 35th annual international competition, which were selected from approximately 5,000 submissions. It provides a broad sampling of all categories of graphic design: corporate identity, advertising and promotional material, logos, stationery, direct mail campaigns, packaging, annual reports, brochures. All winners received the TDC Certificate of Typographic Excellence for work done in 1988. Judges are members of the Type Directors Club and include art directors, design instructors, editors, and advertising executives. Each entry is portrayed in color on a single page. Captions indicate item type (poster, announcement, stationery, portfolio, swatch book, etc.), responsibility (typography/design, calligraphy, typographic supplier, studio), client, principal types [fonts], and dimensions. Physical description: 232 p. : col. ill., ports ; 29 cm. Cost: unknown.

Comments: Nicely designed and laid out, this is a useful tool for designers, advertising agencies, and students, for inspiration and as a historical picture of exemplary design for the year. There are no bibliographical references or contact information for designers, but the book does have a good index and hardcover binding. Recommended for academic, professional, museum libraries.

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Biographical references

Arts & Entertainment Television Network. (n.d.) [online ed.]. Retrieved June 30, 2003, from

Scope: A searchable online database of more than 25,000 individuals. ‘Born on this day’ features color photograph of a celebrity or well-known person, with links to more information. ‘Also born on this day’ links to lesser-known individuals. ‘Top 10 bios’ features hyperlinks to biographies of individuals searched for most often, recently. Search by full name or last name; index available. Biographies include person’s name, dates and places of birth and death, career information, related people and links. Articles are not signed by an individual but are usually copyrighted with a corporate statement of responsibility. Other features: crossword puzzles, exhibits, TV listings for Biography Channel, discussion board, biographical feedback, web trivia, quick poll.

Comments: I have seen reference librarians use this site. It is relatively easy to search and use, and it is free. Major drawbacks: authoritative sources are not cited or stated; clearly a commercial site, it is unlikely to include obscure personalities.

Asimov, Isaac. (1972). Asimov’s biographical encyclopedia of science and technology: the lives and achievements of 1195 great scientists from ancient times to the present chronologically arranged. Garden City, NY : Doubleday & Co.

Scope: Relates the history of science through biographies that concentrate on the subjects’ scientific labors. Scientists included are listed in chronological order of birth. Alphabetical list of entries references the entry number of the person; index includes subjects and names of persons other than the scientists discussed, with numbers referring to the entry, not the page. Physical description: Rev. ed. xxviii, 805 p. : ports. ; 24 cm. Includes index. Cost: unknown.

Comments: Includes name, nationality, area of expertise, dates and places of birth and death for diverse scientists from historical times to the mid-20th century. Most entries are brief. Some portraits provided on [16] p. of plates. Awkward format leaves user at the mercy of the index: chronological order precludes order by nationality, place, or field of study. Scope is limited primarily to white men of the western world. Authored by a preeminent scientific writer, the browsable format is appropriate for casual readers and home, school, or public libraries.

Carter, Sebastian. (1987). Twentieth century type designers. London : Trefoil Publications.

Scope: Covers the history of typography, its use and design, and provides biographical information on 17 notable type designers active in 20th century Europe and North America. Primarily discusses through text and illustrations the designs and interests of each typographer; minimal personal information. Physical description: , 168 p. : ill., ports. ; 24 x 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Cost: unknown.

Comments: Useful for background information on typography and design. Beautifully designed and illustrated. The primary focus is on designers of foundry type, that is, metal types, not those created for electronic applications. As it was published prior to the age of computerized typography, it does not discuss major designers of the last part of the century, who worked primarily with computer-based designs. This work does cover the “big guys” in type design though, making it a necessary tool for students of graphic art and design. Appropriate for academic and professional libraries.

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Norman, David & Wellnhofer, Peter. (2000). Illustrated encyclopedia of dinosaurs : an original and compelling insight into life in the dinosaur kingdom. London : Salamander Press.

Scope: Provides a substantial amount of history and background on dinosaurs, the land-living reptiles from the Mesozoic Era, and pterosaurs, reptiles which could fly and which flourished during the Jurassic Period. Discusses major scientific advancements and profiles major personalities in the field. Each section includes a list of museums and displays worldwide pertaining to dinosaurs, with some addresses. Physical description: 400 p. : ill. (some col.), maps, ports. ; 29 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Cost: less than $50.00.

Comments: Reading level appropriate for junior high school students through adult; very useful and relevant for young paleontologists and herpetologists. I think it would be very appealing to children. Layout and design, color illustrations, and well-done index all make the volume very attractive for school, public, and home libraries. One drawback: the museum listings lack web addresses. Recommended with only slight reservations.

Sigurdsson, Haraldur. (Ed.). (2000). Encyclopedia of volcanoes. San Diego : Academic Press.

Scope: Provides a comprehensive view of volcanism on Earth and the other planets in our solar system which have exhibited volcanic activity. Produced by more than 100 volcanologists, petrologists, and scientists who have specialized knowledge about volcanoes and related processes, the volume is comprised of 10 thematic sections: Origin and transport of magma; Eruption; Effusive volcanism; Explosive volcanism; Extraterrestrial volcanism; Volcanic interactions; Eruption response and mitigation; Economic benefits and cultural aspects of volcanism. There are 82 articles that follow a standardized format and include an outline, glossary, defining statement, body of the article, cross-references and bibliography. The subject index includes over 3,800 entries. Physical description: 1417 p., [10] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 29 cm. Includes bibliographical references and indexes. Cost: $99.95 (hardcover : alkaline paper).

Comments: Book is very intense and rather dry: most of the text is very scientific; I did not find the illustrations to be especially compelling. This work is clearly intended for professional and upper-level academic audiences, and would be appropriate for academic, major public, and professional libraries.

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Brown, Lesley. (Ed.). (1993). New shorter Oxford English dictionary on historical principles. Oxford : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press.

Scope: A historical dictionary of modern English, this 2-volume work is a replacement for the 3rd edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, but is not a direct revision of that text. Entries instead have been culled from the 1989 version of the Oxford English Dictionary (a work comprising some 20 volumes). This shorter work offers 500,000 definitions; 98,600 headwords; 7.5 million words; 25,250 variant spellings; 83,000 illustrative quotations; and 7,300 sources of quotations. Guide to the use of the dictionary and pronunciation key are included at the front of each volume. Physical description: 2 v. (xxvi, 3801 p.) : ill. ; 29 cm. Cost: $150.00

Comments: The paper is white, thin but not transparent; the type is black and set in a size that I can still read without glasses. Set does not include every word in the English language, but there are enough for me: it is the book I’d take if I were going somewhere that allowed only one book. Twelve pages are necessary to describe features of the standard dictionary entry: the book cannot be described in one short paragraph. It is easy to use; intellectually challenging but not impossible to understand; reliable. If it can be perceived to have any flaw, then perhaps it is the British slant which takes precedence over an American aestheticism. I think that is a feature, not a flaw. Edition was published prior to the advent of the internet and world wide web, so one could claim that the set is not as relevant today. Never mind, this is such a solid work and valuable resource that I believe it will serve my family well for years to come. Recommended with enthusiasm for public and academic libraries, or for anyone who enjoys words, history, and the history of words.

Clari, Michela, & Love, Catherine E. (Eds.). (1995). Collins English-Italian, Italian-English dictionary. Glasgow ; New York : HarperCollins Publishers.

Scope: Designed as a reference for translators or students. English words are translated into Italian words or phrases in the first half of the book, Italian words are translated into English words or phrases in the second half. Includes over 160,000 entries, 230,000 translations. Offers technical, political, and business terms. A 44-page grammatical section, “Lingua e funzione = Language in use” is inserted between the dictionaries. “How to use the dictionary = Come usare il dizionario,” gives phonetic transcriptions, abbreviations, English verbs, and Italian verbs in a discussion at the beginning of the book. Physical description: xxxii, 777, 44, 666 p. ; 25 cm. Cost: $20.00.

Comments: Not the book to pack for a 2-week visit to Italy, but useful when studying or translating Italian. Thumb indexing and a printed border around the grammatical section offer quick access to entries. In the English section, headwords are noted in bold san-serif type, with English notes offset in parentheses using an italic san-serif type [such as (Am) or (Brit)], English phrases in a smaller bold san-serif font, and Italian definitions are shown in a regular serif type. The same style is followed in the Italian section of the book, with Italian headwords in bold san-serif type and English definitions in a regular serif font. In other words, the format makes it easy to grasp the information provided. I used this reference book steadily through seven years of Italian classes. The center section on language usage was very useful when I needed to compose formal correspondence in Italian. Solid resource, recommended for home, upper-level school, public and academic libraries.

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Geographic resources

DeLorme Publishing Co. (2002). Michigan atlas & gazetteer. Yarmouth, Me. : Author.

Scope: Work contains 102 quadrangle maps covering the entire state; index; gazetteer lists 22 categories of recreational sites. Detailed information on design and use of maps noted on inside front cover. Maps are divided into 7 ½-minute-by-7 ½-minute sections, with coordinate grids of A through D and 1 through 7 or 8. Scale 1:150,000 (each inch covers 2.4 miles). One in a series of atlases covering the United States. Physical description: 120 p. : col. maps ; 40 cm. Cost: $19.95.

Comments: This topographic atlas is essential for anyone interested in traveling around Michigan: details include trails, dirt roads, back roads, elevation contours, land usage (forest, swamp, agriculture, city), lakes and streams, public access sites, campgrounds and more. Map of the city of Kalamazoo accurately depicts neighborhood streets. Map pages are laid out from west to east, and from south to north; a pictorial index on the back cover and title page cross-reference regions and pages. Grids and tick marks make it possible to use maps with a GPS device. Format and layout of the book make it useful at home or in the car. It is available at a reasonable price, in a compact format, with useful information. Highly recommended for school, public libraries, and home use.

Dubin, Marc S. (Ed.). (1999). Greece: Athens & the mainland. New York : DK Publishing.

Scope: A title in the series Eyewitness travel guides, this book covers Athens and mainland Greece. Includes more than 1,000 color illustrations, maps, and plans. Provides information on diverse regions in the country, travelers’ needs (where to stay, eat, shop, find entertainment), survival guide (how to get there, how to get around, street finder, general index, helpful phrases); discusses Ancient Greece and contemporary places of interest. Physical description: 352 p. : col. ill., col. maps ; 23 cm. Cost: $25.00.

Comments: Color-coded tabs enable the user to quickly identify different areas of interest. Symbols are used throughout the guide so that one may quickly ascertain if the museum offers a restaurant – or a restroom – and if the hotel has parking nearby. Notes email and website addresses. Climate information for different seasons, social customs, historical events and chronologies also covered. Color illustrations, especially the cutaway views of buildings, detailed maps and plans of cities, add to the charm of this book. A high-quality, reasonaby priced book that is also beautifully designed, this guide to Greece is appropriate for adventurers or armchair travelers and would certainly enhance any library collection: home, school, or public.

John Bartholomew & Son Ltd. [Cartographers]. (1989). Times atlas of the world. New York : Times Publishers.

Scope: World atlas, including information on the solar system: star charts, planets, asteroids, comets, planetary satellites; and physical aspects of Earth: geographic comparisons, structure and composi¬tion, planetary history. The work includes 123 double-page eight-color plates of maps and an index-gazetteer of over 200,000 place names. Alphabetized section at the beginning of the book lists “States & territories of the world” with references to plates; includes description, capital city, size in square kilometers and square miles, population and date measured. 7th comprehensive edition. Physical description: xlvii, 227 p., 123 leaves of plates : col. ill., col. maps ; 46 cm. Cost: $139.95.*

Comments: As indicated by Katz on p. 430, this book is the best single-volume atlas available. The best not just because it has beautiful (and beautifully detailed) maps, but because of the way that information is provided and thoroughly explained. A geographical comparisons section offers pictorial information at a glance: continents, oceans, river drainage basins, inland waters, islands, mountain heights and river lengths. Projection style is indicated on each plate; also included are the scale of the work, key for statute miles and kilometers, and color shading for height/depth in feet and meters. Plates are divided into grids, generally numbered 1 to 10 from top to bottom and lettered A to N from left to right. Index and gazetteer cross-reference data by plate, grid, region-state-province, country, and latitude and longitude. The atlas is comprehensive and accessible. Cost was $139.95 in 1989. The current edition is the 10th, published in 1999, retail price $250.00. Obviously not a book for every household, but highly recommended for all upper-level school, public and academic libraries.

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Indexes & abstracts

Brazouski, Antoinette, & Klatt, Mary J. (Comp.). (1994). Children’s books on Ancient Greek and Roman mythology: an annotated bibliography. Westport, CT : Greenwood Press.

Scope: Book no. 40 in the Bibliographies and indexes in world literature series, this work discusses the history of children’s books on Greek and Roman mythology in the United States and describes methodologies employed. Book covers works published in the United States between 1830 and 1992.The annotated bibliography is organized alphabetically by author. Includes descriptions of illustrations, and comments on the book design. Abstracts discuss which characters are involved, how closely the work follows the original myth(s), language style and usage, and age-appropriateness. Includes 6 indexes. Cost: $67.95.

Comments: It was a pleasant surprise to see abstracts of books that I remembered from my childhood. I would recommend this book for elementary and middle school librarians and teachers; it is also appropriate for public and academic libraries. This would also be a useful tool for anyone interested in the topic or seeking information on classical mythology.

Fried, Stephen B. and Schultis, G. Ann. ([Comp.]). (1995). Best self-help and self-awareness books: a topic-by-topic guide to quality information. Chicago : ALA Publications.

Scope: Using selection criteria laid out in the opening chapter, this work evaluates and presents an annotated bibliography of contemporary, and popular, self-help books for: romance, love, marriage & divorce; sexuality; parenting; self-development; stress management; psychological and substance-related disorders; chronic illness, disability, and death; aging. These selection criteria include looking at the author’s credentials, the target audience, readability, and publisher. Each chapter explores the dynamics of the particular issue or need, includes abstracts of recommended titles for diverse facets of the issue, and offers complete bibliographical references. For example, the chapter on stress management includes abstracts listed alphabetically by author under each sub-topic: Physical problems associated with stress; psychological aspects of stress; psychological disorders and stress; adolescents and stress; type A personality and stress; stress on the job; stress in the family; time management; creative conflict resolution; social system building.

Comments: Nice layout, easy to read (jargon-free!), easy to use. Abstracts note if the author is a professional and who might benefit most from the work. I would recommend this book for public, academic, and special libraries. It is appropriate not only for individuals seeking recommended self-help books, but also for acquisitions librarians who purchase those works for their collection.

Harmonie Park Press. (n.d.) Music index online. Retrieved July 29, 2003, from

Scope: Subtitle at the top of the page proclaims: a Subject-Author guide to music periodical literature, 1979-2003.  Includes data from nearly 700 international music periodicals. Covers all aspects of the classical and popular world of music and offers researchers access to historiographic, ethnographic, and musicological data. Subjects include historic and contemporary personalities, music history, forms and types of music, musical instruments from early days to the electronic era. Additionally, book reviews, reviews of music recordings, tapes, and performances are indexed, as well as first performances and obituaries. Cost: Annual subscription for online access, $2195.00.

Comments: Full-text not available, this index includes abstracts only. A simple search for “Bob Dylan” returned 637 hits. Using expert search mode, I limited the search by choosing “bibliography” in the special features pull-down menu and retrieved 7 hits, dated between 1990 and 2000, from five journals, three American, one German, one French: Popular music and society, Musiktherapeutische Umschau, Popular music, New York folklore, and Adem. Another search, this time for “Harry Chapin,” retrieved 39 hits dated between 1979 and 1998. Of these, several mentioned his death in the title, but only one was referenced as an obituary. A search for “Andrea Bocelli” resulted in 38 hits, beginning in 1996 where he was noted in the German periodical Oper und Konzert, through 2001, with a recital recording review of works by Verdi in Opera News. Overall, the index is easy to use and expert search mode is nicely organized with many options. Recommended for academic and special libraries.

National Information Services Corp. Left index. Retrieved July 28, 2003 from

Scope: Subtitle on home page: Thinking Left from East to West, the most comprehensive guide to leftist & radical media from around the world. Provides access to the literature of the Left. Emphasis is on political, economic, social and cultural scholarship that is not limited to academia. Includes little known sources of news and ideas. Topics covered include the labor movement, ecology and the environment, women's studies, race and ethnicity, social and cultural theory, sociology, art and aesthetics, philosophy, history, education, law, and globalization. Indexes more than 774 sources, includes nearly 120,000 citations and abstracts, some with full-text. Coverage 1982-present. Updated monthly.

Comments: A search for “ICT” retrieved 15 hits, most linked to full-text articles. One nice feature highlights the search term(s) where they are found in the articles and allows the user to jump directly to that place in the article. Unfortunately, I had a hard time limiting the search: two articles, one on Muslim separatists in the Philippines and another on sex-trade workers in the Netherlands, included “ict” in an organizational address in the text. I spent a couple of hours trying to manipulate the search to yield very precise results, but finally gave up in frustration. Overall, I liked the database, but I think some extra training is needed. It looks like this index has the potential to provide researchers with an alternative point of view. I could not find pricing information, but I suspect that the Western Michigan University Libraries has purchased the minimum (2-5 concurrent users) package because at one point I was denied access to the search screen. Recommended with slight reservations for academic and large public libraries.

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Government documents

Office of the Governor, State of Michigan. Official website. Retrieved July 29, 2003 from

Scope: Provides information about both the office and the person, in this case, Jennifer M. Granholm, the state’s first female executive officer. There are links to press releases, executive orders, current topics, gubernatorial appointments, constituent services, internship program, and state employees. Other quick links include: biography, e-mail from the Governor, the First Gentleman, photo gallery,  contact the Governor, the Lt. Governor's website, committee websites, emergency management, proclamations, and Michigan's Governors, 1835 to Present. The quick link to emergency management, for example, leads to the website of the Michigan State Police. The link to the First Gentleman leads to his homepage with biographical information, committee appointments, and schedule.

Comments: As expected, this is a comprehensive website that covers the Governor’s agenda, programs, and policies. It is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Online forms enable constituents to contact the office. Information on scheduling an appointment with the Governor is also noted. Links to departmental websites enable users to learn about the Governor’s appointments and their significance. Information is also provided on executive orders (numbered 2003-1 through 2003-7). Includes search capabilities. Overall, a very nice website. Recommended for anyone interested in Michigan and/or the Office of the Governor.

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. Earthquake Hazards Program. Retrieved July 29, 2003, from

Scope: Information on worldwide earthquake activity, earthquake science, and earthquake hazard reduction. Website assists in reducing earthquake hazard in the United States by monitoring, recording, and reporting earthquake activity nationwide. Site provides accurate and timely information on where an earthquake occurred, how much the ground shook in different locations, and the likelihood of future significant ground shaking. Data is available to citizens, emergency responders, and engineers. Special sections designed for teachers, with activities and information designed for children by grade levels (K-4, 5-6, 7-9, 10-12 or any grade) and for kids. Also includes links to publications, hazards & preparedness, regional websites, science & technology, earthquake facts & lists.

Comments: This is a very extensive website; it is user- and child-friendly. A map on the home page indicates recent earthquake activity in the U.S. by magnitudes (>5, >3, >1, or not yet known) and color-coded by time of the event (red box for last hour, blue box for last day, yellow box for last week). There is also a link to a world map with similar information. The “for kids only” section offers puzzles & games, ideas for science fair projects, cool earthquake facts, earthquake image glossary and more. Overall, I think this is one of the finest government websites available: the amount of information regarding earthquakes is truly impressive. Recommended for all ages.

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U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved July 29, 2003 from

Scope: Principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics. According to its mission statement, the BLS is “an independent national statistical agency that collects, processes, analyzes, and disseminates essential statistical data to the American public, the U.S. Congress, other Federal agencies, State and local governments, business, and labor.” The data provided must be relevant to current social and economic issues, timely in reflecting rapidly changing economic conditions, accurate and of high statistical quality, and impartial in subject matter and presentation. Major subject areas indicated by red hypertext links on the home page include: inflation & consumer spending; wages, earnings, &benefits;  productivity; safety & health; international; occupations; demographics; other statistical sites; BLS information offices; employment & unemployment; at a glance tables; publications & research; industries; business costs; geography; kids’ page.

Comments: Highlighted text boxes in the center of the home page provide statistics at a glance. The first, and most visible box contains the “Latest Numbers”: CPI: +0.2% in Jun 2003; unemployment rate: 6.4% in Jun 2003; payroll employment: -30,000(p) in Jun 2003; average hourly earnings: +$0.03(p) in Jun 2003; PPI: +0.5%(p) in Jun 2003;  ECI: +1.3% in 1st Qtr of 2003; productivity: +1.9% in 1st Qtr of 2003; U.S. import price index: +0.8% in Jun 2003. The next box includes the top seven recently asked questions: 1. Where can I find information about the new Metropolitan Areas? 2. What recent changes have affected Current Employment Statistics data? 3. Where can I find the industry employment numbers that used to be on State and Metro Area Economy at a Glance pages? 4. What recent changes have affected Current Population Survey data ? 5. What is the status of the Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) program? 6. Can employees typically choose how their 401(k) funds are invested, and how often can those funds be invested in company stock? 7. Does BLS have information quality guidelines?

The site is extremely complex: the amount of data available here is overwhelming. It  would be one of the first places I’d look for any kind of government statistical information, but I think that some fairly intensive training might be necessary to become an effective searcher. Each major division has as many as twelve subdivisions, and those are further subdivided. This is probably a very important website for economists, business analysts, statisticians, and others who require substantive data. Recommended for use by all, but probably most useful for experienced data-miners.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved July 29, 2003 from

Scope: Principal health statistics agency for the United States, the NCSH provides statistical information which may be used to formulate actions and policies to improve the health of the American people. Data must be accurate, relevant, and timely. It is gathered from systems based on populations, that is, data collected through personal interviews or examinations; and from systems based on records, or data collected from vital and medical records. Major sections include an information showcase, Top 10 links, micro-data access, tabulated data, and the option to build your own tables of information.

Comments: This site is almost as complex as the BLS site, noted above. It offers a wealth of statistical information on (seemingly) every aspect of the health of Americans. The homepage is filled with brightly-colored text blocks and links to a wide range of data from CDC growth charts to the utilization of dental care services by Asians, native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders from 1997 to 2000. The section on trends for “Health, United States” includes 147 tables in PDF files. Highlights and a chart book of the data are also available. A glance at one subject heading in the FastStats section, Accident/Unintentional Injuries, reveals the following data for the year 2000: there were 97,902 deaths, or 35.6 deaths per 100,000 population; accidents rank 5th in the cause of death; motor vehicle accidents caused 43,354 deaths, or 15.7 deaths per 100,000 population. Data included in the FastStats for Infectious Diseases reveals that venereal diseases are most common, followed by salmonella, tuberculosis, and hepatitis B.

As with the BLS site, this website is very complicated and would probably take some time to learn it well enough to be an effective searcher. I would recommend it for academic, major public and professional libraries, as well as for individuals with an interest in medical statistics.

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Last updated 2007-06-10. ALR. Contact me.