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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 the 'Print Resources' Category

Thu, April 29th, 2010
Documenting the Languages of the World
Posted by: Admin

An article in yesterday's New York Times about a project of the Engangered Language Alliance to identify all the New Yorkers who speak dying languages prompted me to revisit Ethnologue, which has been collecting data on the living languages of the world for more than 50 years.  Ethnologue: Languages of the World, published by SIL […]


Tue, April 6th, 2010
And Now, the World's Greatest Thesaurus
Posted by: Admin

The history of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary has been burnished into legend over the years, at least among librarians and linguists, many of whom are familiar with the story of the famous pigeon holes stuffed with quotations slips from contributors around the world. The OED has been called the word's greatest dictionary, and […]


Fri, December 4th, 2009
Ebook vs. Print Book - Is There a Difference?
Posted by: Sara Rofofsky Marcus

While sitting at the Reference Desk, it is not uncommon to have a patron insist on a printed book, because their assignment calls for at least one book as a source.  When asked about the possibility of an ebook the patron is more apt to refuse than agree, simply because it is not what the […]


Wed, December 2nd, 2009
Encyclopedia of Modern China
Posted by: Sue Polanka

Gale/Cengage announced today the release of the Encyclopedia of Modern China, part of the Scriber World History Program.  The encyclopedia features scholarly articles on the history and culture of China since 1800. According to a Gale press release, the Encyclopedia of Modern China offers: •    Authoritative content and fresh scholarly analysis from commissioned contributors from […]


Tue, November 24th, 2009
Is the Print Atlas Dead Yet?
Posted by: Admin

A recent article in The Chicago Tribune about how traditional maps have been vanishing from classrooms got me thinking about one of the staples of the print reference collection, the atlas. While print dictionaries and encyclopedias have crumbled under the onslaught of digitization, it has taken awhile for the atlas to be replaced by online sources, partly because […]


Tue, October 27th, 2009
New Contextual Encyclopedias for American and World Literatures
Posted by: Sue Polanka

Gale announced the release of two new 4 volume encyclopedias - Gale Contextual Encyclopedia of World Literature and Gale Contextual Encyclopedia of American Literature.  According to a Gale Press Release, the encyclopedias discuss an authors work/s in context including: Circumstances in the authors'  lives that are reflected in their work Historical Events affecting their work […]


Sun, October 18th, 2009
Encyclopedic Museums and Museums as Encyclopedias
Posted by: Admin

Like print encyclopedias and their online counterparts, museums run the gamut from extremely specialized to (at least as an ideal) comprehensive or encyclopedic in scope.   (I will limit my examples to art museums, although many museums straddle the boundaries of art, history, nature, and science.)  Examples of the specialized museum include New York's Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art (limited to a […]


Wed, September 9th, 2009
The Forbidden Question
Posted by: Admin

When someone reads the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica or Oxford English Dictionary, it is so exceptional that it often seems to be the occasion for a book about the experience.  Nobody should be surprised, then, that when I reviewed Britannica for Reference Books Bulletin about ten years ago, I did not read every word.  I did not read […]


Fri, September 4th, 2009
The Books are Gone
Posted by: Christine Bulson

An article in the Boston Globe  today reported that a private school, Cushing Academy,  has eliminated the books in the library.  The collection of 20,000 books will be given away and will be replaced by a digital library. The "learning center" will have lap-top friendly carrels  and where the reference desk was there will be a coffee shop […]


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
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 […]


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 […]


Wed, July 29th, 2009
Green Reference
Posted by: Admin

Last year, when I was working on the 2008 Reference Books Bulletin Encyclopedia Update, I noticed that World Book Encyclopedia came with a Mixed Sources label from the Forest Stewardship Council, meaning “wood comes from FSC certified well managed forests, company controlled sources and/or recycled material.” Ever since then I've been looking for evidence of […]


Sun, July 19th, 2009
The Catalogue Raisonne
Posted by: Admin

The catalogue raisonné is a wonderful and specialized category of art reference source whose ideals include completeness and authority, but which invariably falls short of at least the former ideal.  Publication brings to light a statement of what is known by an expert or team of experts about an artist's works; at the same time, it is an invitation (reluctant, […]


Fri, July 17th, 2009
Grzimek's goes online
Posted by: Sue Polanka

A classic reference title is now available online.  Gale/Cengage announced at ALA that the 17 volume Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia has been transformed to an interactive, media-rich online product (yes, this means subscription).  Touted as a knowledge portal, Grzimek's will feature over 4000 species.  The online product will include audio tracks, maps, photos, videos, interactive […]


Fri, July 17th, 2009
Measuring reference collection use
Posted by: Sue Polanka

During our panel discussion "Rethinking the Reference Collection" at ALA, the question came up - how do you measure the use of your reference collection?  Each of the panelists enthusiastically suggested a local "checkout" of the reference items before they are reshelved.  I must say that I do the same thing at my institution.  Several […]





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Quoted material should be attributed to:
Mary Ellen Quinn, Points of Reference (Booklist Online).




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