Best Reference 2010: Print, Electronic, and Free Reference Resources

A surplus of fabulous new titles

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Apr 15, 2011

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“Brian’s Law of Reference Publishing” goes something like this: when budgets are flush, librarians are hard-pressed to find new and unique reference titles. But when collection development budgets for reference have been slashed, there’s a surplus of fabulous new materials.

Last year was a year of abundance, featuring some beautifully crafted print titles along with some extraordinary new electronic products. Thus, rather than lamenting the slow economic recovery, the usurious price of gasoline, or even the rising costs of coffee and chocolate, spend your time searching out funds to purchase some of the year’s reference finest—your patrons will thank you.

Eye-catching titles
Two publishers stood out in 2010 both in terms of quality and quantity of major new works. Oxford University Press (OUP) crafted the Dartmouth Medal–winning Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, with some 3.6 million words in ten volumes written by 600 international experts. Similarly beautiful are two other Oxford titles, The Oxford Companion to the Book and Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages, a nice complement to an earlier work from Scribner’s.

SAGE Reference also dominated along with its recently acquired subsidiary, CQ Press. Everything about the Encyclopedia of Geography evokes quality, including its informative content, its beautiful sewn bindings, and the spectacular full-color maps and illustrations. Equally impressive are CQ’s Encyclopedia of Political Science—published with the assistance of the American Political Science Association—and Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History. SAGE Reference Online, with searchable access across all of its previously published encyclopedias, remains a bargain.

With floods in Australia, an earthquake in New Zealand, and record snowfall across the United States, weather and the environment were also on our minds in 2010. Two new works from the University of California Press helped us understand what’s happening. The Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Change explores where weather comes from, while The Atlas of Global Conservation , published with the Nature Conservancy, describes the natural world and what we can do to protect it.

Several works offer unique takes on fascinating subjects—such as Ambassador Mary Mel French’s United States Protocol: The Guide to Official Diplomatic Etiquette from Roman & Littlefield and Gregory Paul’s The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs. However, no new reference work had a more impressive start than Shaun Cole’s The Story of Men’s Underwear: the book was launched at Westfield’s in London, complete with male models wearing the latest styles from Armani, Calvin Klein, and others, an event profiled in The New Yorker and discussed on radio and TV. Quite a year!


The American Beauty Industry Encyclopedia. Greenwood. 338p. ed. by Julie Willett. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313359491. $85. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection
Willett (history and gender studies, Texas Tech) taps a diverse group of scholars to create a first-of-its-kind handbook to this multibillion-dollar U.S. industry. Some 116 entries describe topics such as clothing, hair, and male beauty, as well as prominent figures like the entrepreneurial Estée Lauder and the often-provocative Calvin Klein. Treatments for everything from acne and baldness to piercing and waxing are also covered, as are terms like androgyny and metro­sexual and recent beauty-related TV shows like Extreme Makeover and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. (LJ 9/1/10)

This is actually ten unabridged, full-text databases of over 20,000 titles arranged into ten libraries: ITPro, EngineeringPro, BusinessPro, FinancePro, ExecBlueprints, ExecSummaries, GovEssentials, OfficeEssentials, Well-BeingEssentials, and Leadership Development Channel for Libraries. Tons of information is accessible in the file, but it’s so well arranged, there’s no info overload, and the library version has features to delight the longer-term user, e.g., the ability to create personal folders, make notes online, and add quick bookmarks. Who’d have thought an ­ebook system could be this good and that a “business-oriented” file would be so appealing to so many? (LJ 5/1/10)

Booms and Busts. 3 vols. Sharpe Reference. 937p. ed. by James Ciment. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780765682246. $339. Online: Sharpe Online Reference
Three general essays describe “booms and busts,” along with their causes and consequences. Then 360 articles on the whys, hows, whats, whens, wheres, and whos of economic cycles follow. From Tulip­mania of 1636–37 to the most recent meltdown, it’s all analyzed here by economists and historians. A Topic Finder arranges articles by themes like “Bubbles, Crises and Cycles” and “Theories, Models and Schools of Thought.” With background entries on corporations and agencies like AIG, Washington Mutual, Chrysler, and Fannie Mae, it’s a treasure trove of information for all those business and economics students. (LJ 11/1/10)


Career Cruising. Ananca Technologies.

This online career guidance and planning system is designed to help users find the right career, explore education and training options, and build their own employment portfolios. Some other products have similar features, but nothing else does it all at this price (starting at $595 per year) or as well. This tool packs in an enormous amount of top-quality material, and it will admirably serve a variety of users. (LJ 8/10)


Cole, Shaun. The Story of Men’s Underwear. Parkstone Intl. 255p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781859956229. $39.95.
No book on this list drew as much fanfare as this first serious reference work on men’s underwear. From the loin cloths recovered from King Tut’s tomb to the enhancement styles of Andrew Christian and the playful patterns of Ginch Gonch, Cole describes the shift of men’s underwear from its original utilitarian purpose to today’s attention-seeking designer waistbands. Also covered are European codpieces; union suits first made by BVD in 1876; briefs, which showed up in France in 1906; and the creative genius of Calvin Klein’s 1980s marketing campaign. Lavish full-color illustrations (many from period paintings or advertisements), a glossary, and bibliography complete the work.

Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. 9 vols. Oxford Univ. 4896p. ed. by Joanne B. Eicher. illus. index. ISBN 9780195377330. $1995. Online: Berg Fashion Library
Winner of the 2010 American Library Association’s Dartmouth Medal, this ambitious project tackles dress and fashion across the globe and throughout history. Using a cross-cultural and multidisciplinary approach—with emphasis on the 19th through 21st centuries—600 international experts committed 3.6 million words’ worth of insight to nine regional volumes. Volume 10 offers a global perspective on everything from nudity to fashion magazines and includes a time line and research strategies. (LJ 10/1/10)


Marks, Gil. Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Wiley. 656p. illus. index. ISBN 9780470391303. $40.
With 650 lengthy entries describing everything from adafina, a Sephardic Spanish Sabbath stew, to zwetschgenkuchen, a Central European cake-tart made with Italian prune plums, this collection is rich in more ways than one. It also features over 300 recipes. When asked if there ­really is a “Jewish food,” Marks—a chef, rabbi, and historian—writes in his introduction that the “Jewish lifestyle—shaped by Sabbath prohibitions, holiday traditions, Torah study, and life-cycle events—produced uniquely Jewish dishes.” And who knew that the production of citrus in Europe developed from the Jewish need to cultivate citrons for Sukkot!


Britannica Image Quest. Britannica Digital Learning and Universal Images Group.
This is an online file of more than two million rights-cleared images covering some 40 image collections.For every image in the database, there’s complete metadata with the source, copyright holder, caption, and keywords. This top-quality product’s content and usability rate a ten all the way. Excellent throughout, Image Quest is going to serve researchers from grade school through university levels very well. There’s also a helpful section on Copyright Guidelines/Usage Agreement, which leads to a clear statement about the appropriate “personal, non-commercial use” of the file’s content. (LJ 2/15/11)

NoveList Plus. EBSCO Publishing.

Libraries have classically been the promoters of reading culture and facilitators of discovery. Pushing that excellent agenda, this upgrade to NoveList, EBSCO’s classic readers’ advisory (RA) file, describes both fiction and nonfiction titles, with sections for teens, kids ages nine through 12, and younger children. The file includes enhanced features like Grab and Go Book Lists, 300-plus Recommended Reads, Book Discussion Guides, 1850-plus searchable Award Lists, Feature Articles, and Curricular Connection articles on a variety of topics. The scope and quality of this RA resource are nonpareil. (LJ 12/10)

The Oxford Companion to the Book. 2 vols. Oxford Univ. 1327p. ed. by Michael F. Suarez, S.J. & H.R. Woudhuysen. illus. index. ISBN 9780198606536. $325. Online: Oxford Digital Reference Shelf
In the opening essay, Andrew Robinson writes, “[W]ithout writing, there would be no recording, no history and of course no books.” In part one, 48 essays chart early writing systems through the history of the book in America. Some 5160 entries make up part two, covering everything from authorship and book collection to various types of books and writing. Thematic indexes up front, extensive cross-referencing, and a concluding general index provide easy topical access. Beautifully bound in red with gold lettering and sewn bindings, with a decorated slipcase—to quote the editors—“this book reflects a passion for the artefact.”


Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine. 4 vols. SAGE. 1758p. ed. by Lyle J. Micheli, M.D. illus. index. ISBN 9781412961158. $995. Online: SAGE Reference Online
With demand rising for health-care professionals to tend to escalating numbers of people participating in vigorous activity, this satisfying encyclopedia—edited by a leading authority on sports care and advised by a board of distinguished practitioners—is intended as an introduction for laypeople with an interest in sports medicine as well as those working in the field. Coverage includes conditioning and training, diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries, musculoskeletal examinations, diet and nutrition, doping, injury prevention, rehabilitation and physical therapy, and sports-specific injuries. The editor has written the article on “preventing sports injuries” himself. There’s even an appendix on taping and bracing techniques, with photos. (LJ 3/1/11)


The Encyclopedia of Middle East Wars. 5 vols. ABC-CLIO. 1887p. ed. by Spencer C. Tucker & Priscilla Mary Roberts. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9781851099474. $495.Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection
President George W. Bush pronounced Operation Iraqi Freedom—launched on March 20, 2003—a “mission accomplished” following the fall of Baghdad on April 10. Subsequent events would, however, prove that dramatic statement to be premature. Detailing the backstory behind this war and others, Tucker and Roberts—editors of The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Greenwood, 2008)—and leading military historians have written almost 1000 articles tracing U.S. involvement in the Middle East with a focus on the Iran-Iraq War, the Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan, the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Global War on Terrorism. A chronology, selected primary documents, a bibliography, numerous illustrations, and superb maps enhance our understanding. (LJ 2/1/11)

Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History. 2 vols. Facts On File. 628p. ed. by Edward E. Curtis IV. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780816075751. $195. Online: Infobase eBooks
With the seeming increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in some quarters, it’s good to be reminded that millions of Muslims have been part of our history since the 17th century. With 130 specialists and even some students from one of his religious studies classes, Curtis (Millennium Chair of the Liberal Arts, Indiana Univ.–Purdue Univ. Indianapolis) includes 300 articles on notables like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali but also freed slaves like Yarrow Mamout, immortalized in a 1819 painting by Charles Vincent Peale. Likewise, details on Detroit, which boasts 56 Mosques including the largest and oldest in America, and the Five Percenters, who contributed to the rise of hip-hop in Harlem in the 1960s, contribute to this rich history. (LJ 11/15/10)

Encyclopedia of Religion in America. 4 vols. CQ Pr. 2405p. ed. by Charles H. Lippy & Peter W. Williams. illus. index. ISBN 9780872895805. $600. Online: CQ Press Political Reference Suite
Editors Lippy (emeritus, religious studies, Univ. of Tennessee at Chattanooga) and Williams (comparative religion & American studies, Miami Univ., OH), who collaborated on the 1988 Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience, here explore the changing religious landscape in North America. Recent ripples since the 1980s include a coalescing of the religious Right, a split in the Episcopal Church over the election of a gay bishop, reverberations in the Roman Catholic Church over child-abuse scandals, and the immigration of unprecedented numbers of Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims. Topics from Adventism and Millenarian Movements to Worship Music and Architecture are explored in depth, with suggestions for further reading and a helpful Thematic Table of Contents. (LJ 9/15/10)

The Forties in America. 3 vols. Salem. 1282p. ed. by Thomas Tandy Lewis. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781587656590. $364. Online: Salem History
Students of American popular culture will welcome this newest entry in Salem’s coverage of American decades. It spans the most pivotal decade of the 20th century, one radically altered by World War II and the genesis of modern superpower states, illuminating everything from the birth of chemotherapy to the founding of the United Nations. Seventeen appendixes list everything from major films to major battles. With 654 signed A–Z entries, 320 photos, 25 maps, and 100 sidebars, it covers all the bases. Online access comes free with the print edition. (LJ 12/10)

The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages. 4 vols. Oxford Univ. 1847p. ed. by Robert E. Bjork. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780198662624. $595. Online: Oxford Digital Reference Shelf
In the works since 1998 at Arizona State University’s Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), this is one of OUP’s biggest projects of the last decade. Editor and ACMRS director Bjork, 26 editors, 800 specialists, and a five-member advisory board contributed to this magnum opus. More than 5000 A–Z entries from 60 to 10,000 words describe people, towns, and terms, as well as concepts like art and architecture from the fifth to the 15th century. Finding aids include a thematic list of entries, an index of alternative place names, and a detailed general index; 50 line maps and 500 spectacular illustrations like an Anglo-Saxon helmet from the Sutton Hoo ship burial enhance the text. The binding and unique volume covers are likewise exquisite. (LJ 10/15/10)

The Yad Vashem Encyclopedia of the Ghettos During the Holocaustt. 2 vols. Yad Vashem Pubns. 1067p. ed. by Guy Miron. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9789653083455. $199.
Drawing on the Hebrew Encyclopedia of the Jewish Communities and survivor testimonies, an international team of scholars has written 1100 alphabetical entries about the ghettos throughout Europe. This set examines the details of each Holocaust ghetto individually, giving geographical and sociological aspects of each, along with other illuminating details, such as number of survivors. Two hundred and fifty photographs and images, some in color, plus a special DVD of wartime footage, are included. Nicely complements the work of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, which published its first two volumes last year.


The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature. 2 vols. Cambridge Univ. 1504p. ed. by Kang-I Sun Chang & Stephen Owen. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780521116770. $325.
Editors Chang and Owen and a group of leading U.S. specialists trace the development of Chinese literary culture over three millennia for this very timely resource. Using an integrated historical approach across two volumes, they discuss the use of paper from the first century C.E. and a flourishing 11th-century commercial printing industry and two periods of outside influences, the introduction of Buddhism in the early medieval period, and the impact of European culture from the late 19th century. A glossary, bibliography of works in English, and index complete the work. To quote poet Li Bai writing in the 740s, “For satisfaction in this life taste pleasure to the limit and never let your golden cup be empty in the moonlight.”

Early European Books: Printed Sources to 1700, Collection 1. ProQuest.
This digitized collection of approximately 2600 books is a survey of the Royal Library of Copenhagen’s holdings in Lauritz Nielsen’s Dansk Bibliografi 1482–1600, and its supplement (1919–96). There are rare, 15th- and 16th-century imprints, with high-resolution facsimile color images of all pages, bindings, and clasps for each; a multilingual interface; detailed metadata; indexing of special features; references to bibliographic sources; and MARC records. When completed, the project will include works published in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK, in the period from 1450 to 1700. (LJ 4/1/10)

Medieval Family Life: The Paston, Celys, Stonor, Plumpton and Armburgh Papers. Adam Matthew Digital.
A collection of manuscripts dating from approximately 1400 to the 20th century, this archive was created from source material from the British Library, Chetham’s Library, the National Archives, and the West Yorkshire Archives. It consists of the Paston Family Papers, the Celys Family Papers, the Plumpton Correspondence, the Stonor Correspondence, and the Armburgh Family Papers; these include the only surviving family letter collections from the medieval period in England. A treasure trove of significant primary source material. (LJ 9/1/10)

MLA Literary Research Guide.
Modern Language Assn.
This selective guide to reference sources for the study of British and U.S. literature and related topics describes and evaluates bibliographies, abstracts, indexes, databases, catalogs, general histories and surveys, annals, chronologies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks. Its 1000-plus entries lead the researcher to 1600-plus articles, books, and electronic resources, as well as citations for over 700 reviews. It’s hard to imagine any scenario in which a library serving the literature needs of upper-division undergrads, graduate students, scholars, and other serious researchers would not want to add this file right away. (LJ 11/1/10)

Oxford Chinese Dictionary. Oxford Univ. 2064p. ed. by Julie Kleeman & Harry Yu. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199207619. $75.
With 670,000 words, phrases, and translations, this is the largest one-volume English-Chinese/Chinese-English dictionary. The result of a six-year collaboration between OUP offices in the United States, the UK, and Hong Kong and the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press in Beijing, it was compiled by a variety of international translators working simultaneously and includes modern idiomatic coverage of general Chinese and English, with thousands of new words from computing to medicine, as well as text message abbreviations and info on using email and the Internet.

Research Guide to American Literature. 7 vols. Facts On File. 1914p. ISBN 9780816078615. $350. Online: Infobase eBooks
This is a user-friendly source to recommend to your high school or college survey of American literature class, designed to assist readers in identifying the right questions to ask. Each of these seven volumes is organized chronologically and provides an overview of a period, guides to frequently studied works, writers, and topics, an annotated bibliography, a glossary, and an index. Whether you’re reading Jonathan Edwards’s famous 1741 sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” or watching Sam Shephard’s 1980 play True West revived in 2010, this is a great place to start your research.


Criminal Justice Abstracts.
EBSCO Publishing.
This extensive resource provides indexing and abstracts for books, journals, dissertations, governmental and NGO reports, papers, and newsletters in the field of criminal justice and related subjects (such as criminal law, forensics, prisons, and history of crime). It boasts over 235,000 records, more than 270 scholarly journals indexed cover to cover, and content that runs from 1912 to the present, updated quarterly. The content is first-rate and so is the delivery system. It’s not just for libraries serving criminal justice researchers—this file will be used by researchers across disciplines. (LJ 11/15/10)

A Dictionary of 20th-Century Communism. Princeton Reference: Princeton Univ. 921p. ed. by Silvio Pons & Robert Service. index. ISBN 9780691135854. $99.50.
Leading international historians Pons (eastern European history, Univ. of Rome Tor Vergata) and Service (Russian history, Oxford Univ.) and an international cast of 160 scholars have crafted 400 entries on the important figures, events, organizations, institutions, and societies of 20th-century communism, from Lenin and Gorbachev to events like the Prague Spring in 1968 and the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua to places like the forced labor camps immortalized in Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago and the Killing Fields of Cambodia. This translation from the original 2006 Italian edition will be welcomed by students of recent world history.

The Encyclopedia of Political Science. 5 vols. CQ Pr. 1801p. ed. by George Thomas Kurian. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9781933116440. $800. Online: CQ Press Political Reference Suite
Since the uniquely American study of political science was established at Columbia University in 1880, the discipline has expanded beyond the politics of a country or region to include comparative politics, international relations, public administration, and judicial politics. Kurian, a well-known editor of reference works, with the assistance of the American Political Science Association, deploys more than 700 authors, editors, and advisors from 40 countries to create one of the largest and most user-friendly political science reference works ever published. More than 1500 entries explore topics like Confucian political thought, concepts like MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), and figures like German socialist Clara Zekin. (LJ 3/15/11)

Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History. 7 vols. CQ Pr. 2874p. ed. by Eleanora von Dehsen. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780872893207. $1200. Online: CQ Press Political Reference Suite
Seven editors have crafted seven volumes covering the corpus of American political history with the first encompassing “Colonial Beginnings Through the Revolution, 1500-1783” and the last the “Clash of Conservatism and Liberalism, 1976 to the Present.” Each volume includes some 100-plus signed articles that advance our knowledge of political developments and personages of the period. From the first Great Awakening in Volume 1 to the September 11, 2001, attacks in Volume 7, treatment is broad and balanced, recommended to students at all levels. (LJ 5/15/10)

French, Mary Mel. United States Protocol. Rowman & Littlefield. 445p. illus. index. ISBN 9781442203198. $44.95.
Ambassador French, who served as Chief of Protocol during the Clinton administration, recently remarked, “Good manners never go out of style.” High time, then, for this comprehensive guide to U.S. protocol, the first to be published in 30 years. Derived from Greek terms protos meaning “the first” and kolla meaning “glue,” protocol implies a body of basic courtesies and rules that influences how people get along. Eighteen chapters describe the “order of precedence,” titles and forms of address, table seating at official ceremonies, flag etiquette, how to wear military decorations, and Internet ­protocol.


Mira, Alberto. Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema. Scarecrow. 431p. bibliog. ISBN 9780810859579. $115. Online: NetLibrary, OverDrive, MyiLibrary, EBL, & Questia
In this tour de force of Spanish cinema history, teacher, novelist, and translator Mira—a Valencia native—writes that Spanish cinema has struggled to compete with Hollywood while dealing with government censorship, poverty, and a troubled history dating back to 1896. In the last decade, however, films featuring Spanish directors like Pedro Almodóvar and stars like Penélope Cruz, Victoria Abril, and Javier Bardem have found an international audience. A chronology precedes the wonderfully written A–Z entries, followed by a bibliographical essay, a bibliography including a special section on filmmakers, and a list of journals and web sites. (LJ 9/1/10)


Fry, Juliane L. & others. The Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Change: A Complete Visual Guide. Univ. of California. 512p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780520261013. $39.95.
Before you complain about bad weather: Mawsynram in India averages 467.3 inches of rainfall annually, while there are places in Chile’s Atacama desert where it hasn’t rained in 400 years. Six experts from three continents describe weather here as “the state of the atmosphere at any given moment” and climate as “the average pattern of weather,” in six sections intriguingly titled Engine, Action, Extremes, Watching, Climate, and Change. This visually appealing source also offers 3000 color photographs, maps, and diagrams. Students will be drawn to the chapter on extremes. (LJ 4/15/10)

Hoar, Tyler L. & others. Birds of Canada. Lone Pine. 528p. illus. index. ISBN 9781551055893. $32.95.
Stretching across one of the most diverse landscapes in the world, Canada has 15 terrestrial and five marine ecosystems. These attract 658 species of birds, some 451 of which commonly spend all or part of the year in Canada. Appearance, size, habitat, nesting, feeding, voice, similar species, several color illustrations, and a map of habitats are listed for each species. There’s a quick reference guide with color photos followed by the main text that treats nonpasserines (birds that do not sing or perch) first followed by passerines (those that do). An appendix lists rare and accidental species, and there is a helpful glossary.

Mitchell, Joe & Whit Gibbons. Salamanders of the Southeast. Univ. of Georgia. 324p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780820330358. $26.95.
This is the fourth installment in a series of exquisite books on the herpetofauna of the Southeast. There are 578 known species of salamanders, including the 102 that live in the Southeast United States and are profiled here by well-known ecologists. They can be found in aquatic environments (like the foot-long brown Hellbender of Kentucky and Tennessee) and also in tall hardwood trees and under bark (like the green salamander of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky). Rounded out by 400 color photos, 77 distribution maps, a chart listing salamanders by state, and a glossary.

Paul, Gregory S. The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs. Princeton Univ. 320p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780691137209. $35.
"Though not every expert agrees on the taxonomy of dinosaur species, there is consensus that these animals first appeared in the Mesozoic Age 220 million years ago and disappeared at the end of the Cretaceous, 65.4 million years ago. Paul, a leading dinosaur illustrator and researcher who served as a consultant for the movie Jurassic Park, discusses 735 species, 130 with color life studies including scenic views and 450 with skeletal, skull, head, and muscle drawings. The species accounts are preceded by sections on dinosaur history, biology, and extinction. (LJ 11/15/10)

Weeds of the Midwestern United States and Central Canada. Univ. of Georgia. 427p. ed. by Charles T. Bryson & Michael S. DeFelice. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780820335063. $44.95.
If you’ve tried gardening in this region (from Ontario to Saskatchewan and south from Kansas to Kentucky), these weeds may well be familiar to you. These plants growing where they are not wanted interfere with agriculture, industry, and ecosystems. This book represents more than 30 years of volunteer effort from weed scientists, botanists, agronomists, horticulturists, foresters, and landscape specialists. Each of the 350 species discussed here includes a distribution map, details of plant growth, habitat and life cycle, special identifying features, and even toxic properties. From common ragweed to climbing kudzu, many of these are the bane of our existence.


Encyclopedia of Educational Reform and Dissent. 2 vols. SAGE. 1042p. ed. by Thomas C. Hunt & others. index. ISBN 9781412956642. $350. Online: SAGE Reference Online
Today’s fights over school choice, homeschooling, alternative teacher programs, and legislation like “No Child Left Behind” are currently grabbing headlines, but they figure into a much longer tradition of debate over progressive education, open education, free school movements, phonics, and site-based management, among other issues. These four editors charged 225 education specialists with writing 450 articles to help us understand it all, including biographies of key figures in the education world and overviews of legal cases and relevant associations. You’ve got to love the cover—slices of red apple signifying reform interspersed with green apple for dissent! (LJ 8/10)

Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication. 2 vols. SAGE. 1095p. ed. by Susanna Hornig Priest. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781412959209. $350. Online: SAGE Reference Online
How to communicate complex information about health, the environment, and technology to nonscientists is one of the challenges of the 21st century. The relatively new field of science communication refers to both a set of professions (science journalism or public information) and an interdisciplinary research specialization. Priest (journalism, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas) has engaged an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars to cover issues ranging from media theory and research to case studies of controversial issues like avian flu, Hurricane Katrina, and Three Mile Island. Additional material is also excellent, e.g., an article on how to interview scientists and information on key science organizations and agencies. (LJ 10/15/10)

Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace. 4 vols. Oxford Univ. 2744p. ed. by Nigel J. Young. index. ISBN 9780195334685. $495. Online: Oxford Digital Reference Shelf
In his introduction, the Dalai Lama writes that “pursuing peace through military strength places a tremendously wasteful burden on society.” With peace research and academic publications in peace studies now more than half a century old, this comprehensive set with over 850 A–Z entries from an international cast of eminent scholars is particularly timely. Complemented by a topical outline and chronology, entries on, e.g., the arms trade and traffic, the campaign for nuclear disarmament, and the movement to ban land mines are interspersed with others on figures and topics such as Andrew Carnegie and Oxfam. (LJ 4/15/10)


The Atlas of Global Conservation. Univ. of California. 234p. ed. Jennifer L. Molnar. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780520262560. $49.95.
In September 2007, the Northwest Passage through the Arctic became navigable for the first time in human history; consider this title a starting point for those alarmed by that fact. To mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the Nature Conservancy last year partnered with University of California Press to produce one of the most comprehensive visual takes on the state of the planet. Chapters describe habitats, the effects of people on natural systems, and ideas for a greener future. One hundred full-color maps and charts present visual testimony that we are living in a world where temperatures are rising, coasts are being reshaped, and the globe is beset by contamination.

Encyclopedia of Geography. 6 vols. SAGE. 3398p. ed. by Barney Warf. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9781412956970. $895. Online: SAGE Reference Online
Every discipline should have an encyclopedia of this quality, beautifully bound on rich glossy paper with sewn bindings and more than 900 full-color illustrations. It’s comprehensive to boot, featuring 1,224 entries from 942 different authors totaling some 1.78 million words. Entries cover human and physical geography, nature and society, and the craft of geography from methods to people. Ambient air quality, ecological footprints, new urbanism, and oil spills are just a few of the topics included, while suggestions for additional readings in green and cross references in red command readers’ attention. (LJ 11/15/10)

Stephens, A. Ray. Texas: A Historical Atlas. Univ. of Oklahoma. 417p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780806138732. $39.95.
Everything about Texas is vast—when you’re in Texarkana you’re closer to Chicago than to El Paso. This major revision of the classic Historical Atlas of Texas features 86 entries with 175 newly designed maps from well-known cartographer Carol Zuber-Mallison, more than twice the number in the original volume. Stephens (history, retired, North Texas Univ.) has updated older essays and added 30 new ones on early roads, slavery, boundary disputes, and contemporary Texas. Among many fascinating maps are those on the worst twisters, the paths of major hurricanes, and even camel routes across the state. Affordably priced; every library in Texas needs a copy. (LJ 6/1/10)

World Geography and Culture Online.
Facts On File.
This new online version of the publisher’s World Atlas offers both ready-reference and in-depth information about the countries, geographies, places, and peoples of the world, including entries for over 200 nations, profiles of the 50 states and Washington, DC, and over 1300 city, country, elevation, geographic, outline, physical features, political, state, and thematic maps. Both novice and expert researchers will be able to make good use of these tools, and the file will be enormously helpful to students seeking topics for research. Most compelling, the imaginative presentation of data here might just entice the science-wary into the field of geography at an early age. (LJ 9/15/10)

Author Information
Brian E. Coutts is Professor and Head, Department of Library Public Services, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green. Cheryl LaGuardia is Research Librarian for the Widener Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

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While broadband adoption increases every year, five to ten percent of Americans still do not have Internet access that accommodates downloading videos or even some basic web pages. This figure derives from the National Broadband Map, launched in February 2011 by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The same month, the Commerce Department issued a report, “Digital Nation: Expanding Internet Usage,” which declared the importance of the Internet as a platform for continued innovation, economic growth, and social communication. The reference sites on this year’s list support this assertion and should serve equally librarians supporting intermittent access communities as well as those in blanket-networked urban environments.

Atlas of Living Australia
With the aim of improving access to information about Australian plants, animals, and microorganisms, this site was publicly launched with government support in November 2010. And when Tropical Cyclone Yasi struck coastal Queensland on February 3, 2011, with winds of 185 mph, it proved a valuable tool for identifying the flora and fauna devastated in the region. A work in progress: you can search by species, many of which are unique to Australia—like the iconic lyrebird, the duck-billed platypus, or even the Tasmanian devil; create your own species distribution maps; check out photos, links, and data­sets; or learn how to become a contributor through an affiliated organization.;
The Scientist;
Looking for a job? Let employees tell you the best places to work. provides the 50 top-ranked companies; Facebook tops the list. In the sciences, The Scientist reports the best places to work in academia, in industry, and for postdocs; think Princeton University, New England Biolabs, and Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, respectively. Rankings for both sites are based on employee surveys that analyze factors such as pay and benefits, career opportunities, work/life balance, and job satisfaction. Both sites also provide salary comparisons. Of significant general interest, posts employee reviews of companies, interview comments and questions, and available jobs—though registration (free) is required for some of this content.

Want to determine your flood risk? Or learn to dance for fitness? This site is the centralized online resource for the Cooperative Extension System, where anyone can find research-based and credible information they can use every day to improve their life. Content of the site originates in land-grant university research and is organized around communities of practice related to major areas of emphasis of the Extension System, including youth; leadership development; agriculture; natural resources; family, food, and consumer services; and community and economic development. You can read news, ask an expert, use interactive lessons, or link to the nearest extension office for information of local interest.
Housed at the Center for Gender Equity at the nonprofit Academy for Educational Development, this site functions as an archive describing the nature of the problems of labor and sexual exploitation of humans, broken out by country. There’s a link to the 10th Annual Trafficking in Persons report released in June 2010 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with coverage of 177 nations; despite some progress, millions continue to suffer modern forms of slavery while human trafficking remains a foremost concern in many countries.

Since 2005, Mashable has provided news relating to social and digital media, technology, and web culture. Mashable now boasts 40 million page views per month, earning high marks among the tech and social media elite for early and consistent reporting on what’s what on the web. Want the low-down on Facebook’s “share” button or the background on what’s going viral on YouTube? If you and your patrons want the breaking news to keep up with the bleeding edge, Mashable is the site to bookmark.

Middle East Protests;
Trusted for decades and recognized with Pulitzers, the New York Times (NYT) is the place to turn for the latest news on the protests and related events in the Middle East and northern Africa. Taking a country-by-country look at recent political events, these sites provide links to the latest news stories and the latest Tweets. In addition to linking to the paper’s own coverage, the Lede also has extensive links to other blogs, blog rolls, news sites, and news videos. At this writing, Libya is the focus; use the blog’s archive for coverage of other countries.

Mobile Apps from
Tied to your mobile device and want to know the status of your tax return? Traveling and want to know the operating status of U.S. airports or tips for making your security check more efficient? Need to locate a U.S. embassy or obtain visa information? provides a site that links to mobile applications produced by the federal government that can answer these and other questions. There’s even a mobile app for where you can search federal, state, and local web sites, and contact your government! An excellent resource for keeping up with Uncle Sam on the go.

National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)
The NSIDC at the University of Colorado supports research into the world’s frozen realms. Check out its “Easy To Use Data Products” like the Sea Ice Index, or click on the Education Center to learn “All About Snow.” Turns out it snows everywhere, even at the equator, and that New York state is home to the snowiest cities in the United States. Meanwhile, if all the land ice melted, the sea level would rise 70 meters worldwide—a scary thought! For a visual taste of winter, you can even check out pictures of past blizzards in the image galleries.

Launched in 1996 and administered by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this is a major source for timely, reliable, and relevant humanitarian information and analysis. Complete with the latest information about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and the New Zealand earthquake in February, it also reports the impact of Cyclone Bingiza on Madagascar, flooding in Bolivia, and a cold wave in Mexico—and this is only for the first few months of 2011. Some $207 million has already been pledged for 2011 Haitian relief alone with the European Union, United States, Sweden, United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada being major donors. The needs on display here are staggering.

Yale Rudd Center for
Food Policy & Obesity
President Obama’s signing—and Michelle Obama’s championing—of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act child nutrition bill not only provides increased funding for school lunches but also calls for the replacement of junk food outside the cafeteria. Likewise, this nonprofit research and policy organization is devoted to improving the world’s diet, preventing obesity, and reducing weight stigma. You can click on “hot topics” to follow the debate on school nutrition, read recent center publications like “Front of Package Food and Beverage Labeling,” or use the legislation database link to search for bills on a variety of ­topics.

Author Information
Cynthia Etkin is a librarian in Washington, DC, and Brian E. Coutts is a librarian in Bowling Green, KY

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