Booklist Editors' Choice: Reference Sources

About the Booklist Editors' Choice: Reference Sources
Titles were reviewed in RBB from February 2006 through January 2007. All the titles are intended for a general readership at the high-school level and up. For our pick of the crop for students, see “Twenty Best Bets for Student Researchers” in the September 1 issue.

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2008 Selection(s)

African American National Biography. Ed. by Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. 8v. 2008. 5,568p. illus. Oxford, $795 (9780195160192).

African American lives are “collected and resurrected” in this impressive set, a product of the African American National Biography Project sponsored by the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and Oxford University Press. The contributions and achievements of more than 4,000 African Americans are recorded. A major standard reference work that most libraries of any size will want to have, available online as part of Oxford’s African American Study Center(www.oxfordaasc.com/public/). (Top of the List winner—Reference Source.)

Animal Life. Ed. by Charlotte Uhlenbroek. 2008. 512p. illus. DK, $50 (9780756639860).

An excellent overview of the animal world, created in association with the American Museum of Natural History and written at a level accessible to students and the general public. The outstanding color illustrations and photographs alone make it worth the price.

Columbia Granger’s World of Poetry. Columbia Univ. [www.columbiagrangers.org].

The ultimate poetry resource has been completely redesigned. It contains 250,000 poems (the most widely read in English and a number of other languages) plus 450,000 citations, and its new features make it much more user-friendly.

The Encyclopedia of Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political, Social, and Military History. Ed. by Spencer C. Tucker. 4v. 2008. 1,553p. illus. ABC-CLIO, $395 (9781851098415).

A comprehensive look at myriad aspects of the continuing clash between Arabs and Israelis. Although the focus is on the Arab-Israeli wars from 1947, many entries help achieve a balance between historical and contemporary context.

Encyclopedia of Cancer and Society. Ed. by Graham A. Colditz. 3v. 2007. 1,616p. illus. Sage, $375 (9781412949897).

This encyclopedia takes on the ambitious task of examining the possibilities for preventing cancer by reducing risk factors within societies and the environment. The multidisciplinary approach provides a unique perspective.

Encyclopedia of the First Amendment. Ed. by John R. Vile and David L. Hudson. 2v. 2008. 1,464p. CQ, $275 (9780872893115).

An excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn more about broadcast regulation, the establishment of religion clause, students’ rights, or myriad other topics involving the First Amendment and its political, cultural, and legal significance.

Encyclopedia of Global Warming and Climate Change. Ed. by S. George Philander. 3v. 2008. 1,552p. illus. Sage, $375 (9781412958783).

Authors from fields as diverse as anthropology, chemistry, geography, and medicine have contributed to this encyclopedia on an urgent topic. The individual country entries as well as the general-audience language add to the set’s value.

Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States. Ed. by Jocelyne Cesari. 2v. 2007. 1,108p. illus. Greenwood, $199.95 (9780313336256).

A timely, ambitious encyclopedia from Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the first of its kind: an effort to provide an unbiased and accurate resource for information on the “fastest growing religion in the United States.”

Encyclopedia of Sex & Gender. Ed. by Fedwa Malti-Douglas. 4v. 2007. 1,682p. illus. Macmillan, $425 (9780028659602).

A landmark work that bring together a remarkable array of materials to explore the various concepts of sex and gender that impact nearly every area of human interaction and activity.

The Facts On File Companion to British Poetry before 1600. Ed. by Michelle M. Sauer. 2008. 514p. Facts On File, $85 (9780816063604).

The Facts On File Companion to British Poetry: 17th and 18th Centuries. By Virginia Brackett. 2008. 488p. Facts On File, $75 (9780816063284).

Part of a projected four-volume series that will cover British poetry from its beginnings to the present. The large number of entries on individual poems will be especially welcomed by librarians who are assisting students in locating poetry, while the historical, biographical, and literary information will be useful in research.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales. Ed. by Donald Haase. 3v. 2008. 1,248p. illus. Greenwood, $299.95 (9780313334412).

Meticulously documented and firmly grounded in scholarly research, this introduction to the evolving field of folklore and fairy-tale studies features straightforward language and sufficient background material to be accessible to novice researchers.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Homes through American History. Ed. by Thomas W. Paradis. 4v. 2008. 1,500p. illus. Greenwood, $399.95 (9780313334962).

This overview of the progression of the American home from colonial cabins to present-day loft condominiums is unlike any other treatment, a wonderful marriage between architectural history and the events and cultural developments that surrounded it.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship, and Sexuality through History. Ed. by James W. Howell. 6v. 2008. 1,800p. illus. Greenwood, $599.95 (9780313333590).

Although there are thousands of books on sexuality and love in different cultures, this one synthesizes this information for students and general readers.

Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center. EBSCO [www.ebscohost.com].

EBSCO has licensed content from more than 500 popular full-text books and magazines as well as over 330 videos covering more than 140 hobbies and crafts, with regular additions expected. A great addition to any public library.

Milestone Documents in American History: Exploring the Primary Sources That Shaped America. Ed. by Paul Finkelman and Bruce A. Lesh. 4v. 2008. 2,100p. illus. Schlager, $385 (9780979775802).

The first installment in a larger Milestone Documents series, the goal of which is to make primary sources “the star of the show” rather than a supplemental add-on. All documents are provided in full text.

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History. Ed. by Bonnie G. Smith. 4v. 2008. 2,752p. illus. Oxford, $495 (9780195148909).

Though there is no shortage of reference works on women’s history, this impeccably produced set earns a place on the shelf by merging women’s and world history in entries that cover not only individual women but also a very wide range of other topics.

Oxford Islamic Studies Online. 2008. Oxford [www://oxfordislamicstudies.com].

A unique, robust, and accessible collection of information on Islam, integrating several thousand reference articles covering the people, practices, culture, and politics of the Islamic world throughout history, with primary documents and other resources.

Oxford Language Dictionaries Online. 2007. Oxford [www.oxfordlanguagedictionaries.com].

Oxford University Press is known for its excellent bilingual dictionaries in many languages. Online, libraries can subscribe to a single language or any combination of languages and get definitions, translations, pronunciation guides, and more.

Pop Culture Universe: Icons Idols Ideas. 2008. Greenwood [http://pop.greenwood.com].

This database covering people and topics that have become known or important via the influence of mass media in Western culture has something for everyone. The home page has a fun vibe that should attract users.

Salem Health. 2008. Salem [http://health.salempress.com].

Magill’s Medical Guide, a standard lay medical resource, now has an online version that is free with purchase of the print set. This entry into the confusing world of database subscription models is most welcome.

Treaties with American Indians: An Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts, and Sovereignty. Ed. by Donald L. Fixico. 3v. 2007. 958p. illus. ABC-CLIO, $285 (9781576078808).

The subject of treaties between American Indians and the U.S. government is vast and complex. This set is the most comprehensive source of information on Canadian-Indian treaties and U.S.-Indian treaties.

The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Operations. By Mary Ellen Snodgrass. 2v. 2008. 746p. illus. Sharpe, $199 (9780765680938).

The detailed, high-quality subject entries alone are enough to make this work highly recommended; additional materials such as maps and genealogies make it outstanding.

The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. Ed. by Gershon David Hundert. 2v. 2008. 2,448p. illus. Yale, $400 (9780300119039).

YIVO (Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut, or Yiddish Scientific Institute) is the leading institute for scholarship in Yiddish and the study of the history and culture of Eastern European Jews. This encyclopedia preserves a rich culture and makes it accessible to the world.