Reference Reviews

ISSN: 0950-4125

Article publication date: 1 July 2004



Chalcraft, A. (2004), "Editorial", Reference Reviews, Vol. 18 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/rr.2004.09918eaa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


In the closing pages of this issue will be found the official announcement of the Reference Reviews winners in Emerald’s annual Literati Club Awards of Excellence. For volume 17 2003 we have made three awards: the “Best printed reference title reviewed”; the “Best electronic reference title reviewed”; and the “Best review”.

As will be seen, the “Best printed reference title reviewed” is awarded for Encyclopedia of Food and Culture edited by Solomon H. Katz and published under the Scribner’s imprint of the Gale group (RR 2003/370). This, as reviewer David Harrison noted, is “a classic work that will stand for many years to come”. Any library with an interest in the history and culture of food, or indeed the history and culture of humankind, really should consider acquiring the three volumes of this masterful work. The “Best electronic reference title reviewed” is awarded for The Times Digital Archive 1785-1985 (RR 2003/46), again a title of the Gale group of companies. Available at www.galegroup.com/Times/ this is one of the first primary source microfilm newspaper titles to be made available in digital form. It revolutionizes access to the Times and allows Gale to steal a march on rival companies offering a digital version of Palner’s Index to the newspaper. Our final award, that for “Best review”, is made to the contributor who provided the most notable review of the volume. This was a particularly difficult award to judge. After considerable deliberation it was given to Stephen V. Pomes, Librarian at the US Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service in New Orleans for his outstanding review of Brill’s New Pauly: Encyclopedia of the Ancient World (RR 2003/371).

The annual selection of the best titles reviewed is a pleasant, but somewhat daunting task. For the 2003 awards there were 483 titles to consider. To assist the process two shortlists were compiled, one of ten titles for “Best printed reference” and one of five for “Best electronic reference”. For the information of readers we have reproduced these below. Print titles have been given the designation “Reference Reviews Top Ten Print Reference Source 2003” and electronic titles “Reference Reviews Top Five Electronic Reference Source 2003”.

Top ten print reference sources 2003

  • (The) Airline Encyclopedia 1909-2000, McFarland (RR 2003/232).

  • Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Cambridge University Press (RR 2003/20).

  • Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, Scribner’s (RR 2003/370) Overall Winner.

  • Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, University of Toronto Press (RR 2003/185).

  • Encyclopedia of Modern Asia Gale (RR 2003/283).

  • Holocaust Literature: An Encyclopedia of Writers and Their Work, Routledge (RR 2003/387).

  • International Bibliography of Bibliographies in Library and Information Science and Related Fields Volume 1 1945-1978, Saur (RR 2003/290).

  • Oxford Companion to Italian Literature, Oxford University Press (RR 2003/327).

  • Political and Economic Dictionary of Eastern Europe Europa (RR 2003/14).

  • South Asian Novelists in English: An A to Z Guide, Greenwood Press (RR 2003/454).

Top five electronic reference sources 2003

  • Annual Register 1758-2001, ProQuest (RR 2003/270).

  • Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center Gale (RR 2003/63).

  • History Resource Center Gale (RR 2003/96).

  • SocioSiteSociology Department, University of Amsterdam (RR 2003/242).

  • Times Digital Archive: 1785-1985, Gale (RR 2003/46) Overall Winner.

Turning to this issue of Reference Reviews, we again highlight a few titles of particular significance, some of which may eventually be 2004 award winners. In reviewing electronic information sources we have continued our habit of offering a mix of subscription and free Web sites. In the former category primary mention must go to Gale Virtual Reference Library (RR 2004/232). Incorporating 74 print titles at the time of review, this is one of several general reference sites (rivals include Oxford Reference Online(RR 2003/04) and xrefer) that look set to become cornerstones for quality quick reference work. Of the several free Web sites reviewed in this issue perhaps the most interesting is The Devil’s Dictionary (RR 2004/258). This is an edited version of Ambrose Bierce’s 1906 title The Cynic’s Workbook.One of the best features of the Internet has been the appearance of many classic older works of reference, many out of copyright, in digital format. Bartleby.com has been a leading provider in this respect. A good number of Bartleby hosted titles, however, are of more recent pedigree and in this issue we review The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (3rd edition) (RR 2004/244).

Many printed reference works are now appearing as standard as e-books. ABC-Clio and the Gale companies seem to have pioneered in this respect, but now others such as the Taylor & Francis family (Routledge, Europa, etc) are following suit. One of Europa’s chief titles, that reference mainstay International Who’s Who, is now available online, the electronic version closely mirroring the printed text (RR 2004/288). A more conventional e-book is Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society (RR 2004/241) from the Gale label Macmillan Reference, otherwise published in three hard-bound volumes. Another multi-volume work worthy of special note is A.D. Goudie’s Encyclopedia of Geomorphology published by Routledge in conjunction with the International Association of Geomorphologists (RR 2004/266). Finally, we end with mention of two specialist titles. Bruce Braden Peel’s bibliography of the Prairie Provinces first appeared in 1956 at a time when it was still just about possible for one devoted scholar to amass details on most of the published works relating to a specific region. Now University of Toronto Press has published an updated version as Peel’s Bibliography of the Canadian Prairies to 1953 (RR 2004/292). Our other specialist title is also the work of someone dedicated to his topic, in this case fire insurance. In Fire Insurance Records for Family and Local Historians 1696-1920 (RR 2004/286) from the small UK publisher Francis Boutle, David Hawkins provides coverage of this fascinating area from a mainly genealogical perspective. UK public libraries, in danger of being engulfed by those researching their family history, will surely thank him.

Anthony ChalcraftEditor Reference Reviews and College Librarian, York St John College, York, UK

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