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Points of Reference

A Booklist Blog
This is the archive of the blog Points of Reference. From 2009-2012 a team of library reference experts talked about resources (books, databases, Web sites, e-books, and more) and publishing trends.

Archive for August, 2009

Sun, August 30th, 2009
Do the Darwin
Posted by: Admin

Reference books don't generally have much personality, but here's an exception: Darwin's Universe: Evolution from A to Z, which the author, Richard Milner, describes as the "evolved descendent" of his earlier Encyclopedia of Evolution: Humanity's Search for Its Origins.  The volume combines scholarship with humor to explore Darwin and his pathbreaking insights. In the foreword, […]

Thu, August 27th, 2009
Web Site of the Week: 66 Ways to Save Money
Posted by: Christine Bulson

The Federal Citizen Information Center provides a number of useful publications including 66 Ways to Save Money.  It is a subject list of simple, common sense suggestions. Examples are #11 - "Don't decide to lease a car just because the payments are lower than on a traditional auto loan.   The leasing payments are lower because you […]

Wed, August 26th, 2009
Budget Blues
Posted by: Barbara Bibel

After many years of 10 to 15% cuts in our materials budget, we got really bad news: this year the cut is 25% of what's left! Given the financial woes of the city of Oakland and the State of California, it is not a total surprise, but why do the Powers that Be always hit […]

Wed, August 26th, 2009
eReference Platforms - What do we want?
Posted by: Sue Polanka

I spent Monday with several librarians in a discussion on the future eReference platform.  I'm referring to products like Credo Reference, GVRL, Sage Reference Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, etc.  Our discussion revolved around platform features, good features and not so good features.  I'm going to list some highlights of the discussion below, but would really […]

Tue, August 25th, 2009
World Heritage Sites
Posted by: Admin

There are currently 890 UNESCO World Heritage sites.  The list of sites, alphabetically arranged by country, can be found with extensive supporting information (in most cases descriptions, documents, maps, image gallery, etc.).  From the website, sites on the Official World Heritage List can be located in Google Earth.  In addition to the 890 sites themselves, features […]

Tue, August 25th, 2009
Guardians at the Wikipedia Gate
Posted by: Admin

I have a love-hate relationship with Wikipedia. The hate part has to do with the unstable "everyone is an editor" aspect of  information on the site, so I was interested to see an article in today's New York Times about how Wikipedia will soon begin to impose more control over articles about living people.  Once the new […]

Mon, August 24th, 2009
The Language of Baseball
Posted by: Admin

My favorite among the titles we've reviewed for the September 1 issue of Reference Books Bulletin is the third edition of Paul Dickson's Dickson Baseball Dictionary. The baseball reference shelf is already pretty full, what with all those statistical compilations. But make room for Dickson, which is baseball's answer to the  Oxford English Dictionary, containing an impressive 10,000 entries and 18,000 definitions […]

Thu, August 20th, 2009
Video Break: Medieval Helpdesk
Posted by: Admin

Check out this video from some clever folks in Norway. It seems especially apt when so many of us are having a hard time letting go of print.

Wed, August 19th, 2009
A Unique and Essential Reference
Posted by: Admin

The one print reference source I would find it hardest to do without is the small spiral-bound, college-ruled notebook I carry almost everywhere--to work, to museums, to lectures, and a few days ago to Port Isabel on South Padre Island, not far from Mexico.  One cryptic notation I made on the drive home (my wife drove) […]

Tue, August 18th, 2009
Points of Access
Posted by: Barbara Bibel

Libraries made the headlines in last night's local newscast. It seems that the San Jose Public Library, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is now taking reference questions via text messaging. We already interact with our patrons in person, by phone, by e-mail, and in online chat reference, so texting is the logical next step. […]

Tue, August 18th, 2009
Wikipedia Wins
Posted by: Christine Bulson

Recently I was doing research on the chef Thomas Keller and also wanted to know what farro and broccolini are.  Unknowingly I compared traditional reference sources to Wikipedia.  I began the search for Keller using Academic Search Complete and Lexis Nexis Academic.  Through these two subscription databases, I found reviews of his books and restaurants and an interview with Keller […]

Mon, August 17th, 2009
Vampires and Virginia Woolf
Posted by: Admin

What do vampires and Virginia Woolf  have in common?  No, they're not part of the new fiction trend that Neil Hollands talks about over at Book Group Buzz (at least not yet). Instead, they both occupy space in Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, edited by H. James Birx and published by Sage. Every so often […]

Thu, August 13th, 2009
Reference Standing Orders
Posted by: Sue Polanka

Back in the day, at least 2/3 of my reference collection budget supported standing orders for hundreds of print statistical books, biographical sources, directories, dictionaries,and almanacs of all types.  Each year it seems to dwindle as we ask ourselves, do we really need to get that print source EVERY year?  This year is no different, […]

Wed, August 12th, 2009
The Catalogue Raisonne Part 2
Posted by: Admin

Having learned from two of my librarian friends that they had read (unprompted by me) and approved of my July 19, 2009, Points of Reference post "The Catalogue Raisonné,"  I have been inspired to continue the theme. I announced my plan at the end of that post to return to the Houston Public Library's central […]

Tue, August 11th, 2009
Reports from the Front
Posted by: Admin

Booklist hosted the Independent Reference Publishers' Group meeting that took place at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago last month. IPRG gets together at every ALA conference to discuss and hear about matters related to reference publishing. I invited some librarians from the school and public libraries to come to the meeting and talk about what's […]

Thu, August 6th, 2009
How Up-To-Date Is That Encyclopedia?
Posted by: Admin

I'm putting the finishing touches on Reference Books Bulletin's annual Encyclopedia Update, which is published in the September 15 issue of  Booklist. In it , we review the (ever-dwindling) print and online general encyclopedias like Encyclopaedia Britannica and World Book. Over the years, RBB's eagle-eyed encyclopedia reviewers have taken publishers to task for not keeping their print […]

Sun, August 2nd, 2009
Records and Asterisks
Posted by: Admin

The quintessential asterisked record was Roger Maris's single-season home run record.  In 1961 he broke by one Babe Ruth's longstanding record of 60, but in a season that was eight games longer.  Whether the asterisk was real, metaphorical, or not deemed relevant depended on which reference you consulted.  Maris's record stood until Mark McGwire (in a race […]

Sat, August 1st, 2009
The Wonders of technology
Posted by: Barbara Bibel

I returned home from the wonderful and productive conference in Chicago ready to post something about the exciting programs, but my DSL was dead. After three weeks of going round and round with my provider, it is still dead. I am now in the process of changing ISPs. This made me think about how much […]

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Mary Ellen Quinn, Points of Reference (Booklist Online).

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