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Find more Booklist Editors' Choice
These titles were chosen by the editor of RBB based on reviews published in the reference section of Booklist, as well as suggestions from the Reference Books Bulletin Editorial Board and guest reviewers. Titles were selected not only because of their high quality but also because they fill a void or bring something new to the reference collections of school and public libraries.
American Eras: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850–1877. Ed. by Thomas J. Brown. Gale, $85 (0-7876-1484-X). American Eras: Colonial Era, 1600–1754. Ed. by Jessica Cross. Gale, $85 (0-7876-1479-3). American Eras: Development of the Industrial United States, 1879–1899. Ed. by Vincent Tompkins. Gale, $85 (0-7876-1485-8).
Gale has taken the formula that made their American Decades series a success and applied it to earlier history. Designed for high-school level and above, each volume gives a snapshot of an era through chronologies, biographies, surveys of important developments in various fields, bibliographies, and copious illustrations. Five more volumes are in the works.
The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball. By Jonathan Fraser Light. McFarland, $75 (0-7864-0311-X).
If there were only two books on baseball in a library’s reference collection, one should be Macmillan’s Baseball Encyclopedia (10th ed, 1996), and the other should be this volume. What makes it interesting and different from the many available baseball books is that it is an exhaustive compendium, not just of statistics, but of the customs, folklore, and social significance of the sport.
Encyclopedia Americana Online. Grolier, pricing beginning at $495. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia Online. Grolier, pricing beginning at $495.
Though not yet as sophisticated as Britannica Online, these Internet-based resources represent an exciting development in encyclopedia publishing. The Encyclopedia Americana Online, like its print and CD-ROM counterparts, is designed to meet more advanced research needs; while Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia Online is aimed at a more general as well as a slightly younger audience. Grolier recently announced that both are now available in a single package called Grolier Online, with pricing starting at $595. (Top of the List winners—Reference Source.)
Encyclopedia Judaica. CD-ROM. Grolier, $595.
The electronic version of the venerable Encyclopaedia Judaica contains the entire text of all 16 print volumes along with updates, new articles, and multimedia features. Easy to use, with fascinating visuals, it should appeal to both casual browsers and serious researchers.
Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs. Ed. by Phillip J. Currie and Kevin Padlan. Academic, $99.95 (0-12-226810-5).
Despite their hold on the popular imagination, most reference works on dinosaurs have been designed either for specialists or for children. This volume is an accessible, authoritative source on all aspects of dinosaur science for the rest of us.
The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. Ed. by John Clute and John Grand. St. Martin’s, $75 (0-312-15897-1).
The entire universe of fantasy is brought together in one volume, including art, authors, literary terms, movies, music, television, and more. Like The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, also coedited by Clute and published in 1993, this work should become an essential resource because of its coverage of so many related topics.
Encyclopedia of Interior Design. 2v. Ed. by Joann Banham. Fitzroy Dearborn, $250 (1-884964-19-2).
Until now, reference sources in the field of interior design have consisted largely of dictionaries; guides to specific items, such as furniture; or decorating manuals. This encyclopedia fills a long-standing gap by surveying the history of interiors, with entries for individuals, periods, styles, objects, and room types.
Encyclopedia of Social Issues. 6v. Ed. by John K. Roth. Marshall Cavendish, $459.95 (0-7614-0568-2).
Although sources of information on specific social issues are plentiful, this is the first reference work to provide so comprehensive an overview. Accessible, well organized, and scrupulously objective, it offers a good introduction for general readers and an excellent starting place for students doing research.
Encyclopedia of Sports Science. 2v. Ed. by John Zumerchik. MacMillan, $200 (0-02-897506-5).
Unique among sport reference titles, this encyclopedia provides the best coverage of the mechanics of sport and the scientific principles involved. It should appeal equally to athletes, spectators, and researchers.
External Degrees in the Information Age: Legitimate Choices. By Henry A. Spille and others. Oryx, $34.95 (0-89774-997-9).
This volume is designed to help sort through the growing list of options in nontraditional higher education, including distance learning. Besides providing information on 140 degree programs, it offers guidance on identifying high-quality programs and avoiding diploma mills.
Financial Aid for African Americans, 1997–1999. Ed. by Gail Ann Schlachter and R. David Weber. Reference Service, $35 (0-918276-56-X). Financial Aid for Asian Americans, 1997–1999. Ed. by Gail Ann Schlachter and R. David Weber. Reference Service, $30 (0-918276-57-8). Financial Aid for Hispanic Americans, 1997–1999. Ed. by Gail Ann Schlachter and R. David Weber. Reference Service, $32.50 (0-918276-58-6). Financial Aid for Native Americans, 1997–1999. Ed. by Gail Ann Schlachter and R. David Weber. Reference Service, $35 (0-918276-59-4).
The proliferation of funding programs for minorities has prompted the editors of Directory of Financial Aids for Minorities to replace that landmark resource with these four new titles, which can be purchased separately or as a set. Plans are to update the series biennially.
Masterplots Complete CD-ROM. CD-ROM. Salem, $750 (0-89356-263-7).
The contents of 80 volumes of Masterplots and Masterplots II, plus entries from Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Cyclopedia of Literary Characters II, and World Authors II, are available on this CD-ROM, searchable by title, author, locale, genre, subject, and principal characters. The powerful search engine provides new ways to tap into the wealth of information found in these reference standbys.
Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television. 3v. Ed. by Horace Newcomb. Fitzroy Dearborn, $300 (1-884964-24-9).
Television finally has a reference work that combines information about history, technology, programs, and personalities with thoughtful analysis. Entertaining and accessible enough for TV fans, it is also substantive enough to serve more serious research needs.
The NASA Atlas of the Solar System. By Ronald Greeley and Raymond Batson. Cambridge, $150 (0-521-56127-2).
Space probes collected the data for this stunning atlas, which maps the surfaces of all the objects seen in our solar system up until the end of 1996. Because it provides access to so complete a set of images, the atlas will enhance the astronomy and space exploration collections of most types of libraries.
The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. Ed. by William L. Andrews and others. Oxford, $55 (0-19-506510-7).
More than 300 distinguished scholars contributed to this source, the first one-volume reference work on African American literature. The publication of an Oxford companion indicates that the field has matured as an academic discipline to the point where its literary canon can be defined.
Protest Power and Change: An Encyclopedia of Nonviolent Action from ACT-UP to Women’s Suffrage. Ed. by Roger S. Powers and William B. Vogele. Garland, $75 (0-8153-0913-9).
Here is a reference work that helps define an area of study by bringing together a wide range of information and presenting it in a new context. The unique perspective and excellent treatment make this volume a good choice for larger library collections.
Scientists: The Lives and Works of 150 Scientists. 3v. Ed. by Peggy Saari and Stephen Allison. UXL, $99.95 (0-7876-0959-5). Scientists: Their Lives and Works. v.4. Ed. by Marie E. Ellavich. UXL, $34 (0-7876-1874-8).
The first three volumes proved to be so popular with teachers, librarians, and students when they were published earlier this year that UXL followed up almost immediately with a fourth. This is a publisher that knows and responds to its audience.
Shakespeare’s Characters for Students. Ed. by Catherine C. Dominic. Gale, $65 (0-7876-1300-2).
This companion to the publisher’s Shakespeare for Students Books I and II seems tailor-made for high-school literature assignments. In addition to analyzing the motivation of major characters and their roles in the action of the plays, there is useful discussion of the modern relevance of each play’s themes.
The Yale University School of Medicine Patient’s Guide to Medical Tests. Ed by Barry L. Zaret. Houghton, $40 (0-395-76536-6).
Faculty members of the Yale University School of Medicine have provided a wealth of useful detail on the most common diagnostic procedures currently in use. This outstanding source belongs in all public libraries and consumer health/patient education collections.
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