2000 Outstanding Reference Sources


The 2000 list of Outstanding Reference Sources for Small and Medium-sized Libraries has been announced by the Reference and User Services Association's (RUSA) Reference Sources Committee. The titles were selected during the 2000 ALA Midwinter Meeting and represent high-quality reference works that are suitable for small- to medium-sized libraries.

A complete list of the selected titles follows. This list appeared in the May 2000 issue of
American Libraries.

RUSA is a division of the American Library Association.

2000 Outstanding Reference Sources

Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, editor Paul F. Grendler. 6 vols. 2,882p. New York: Scribners, 1999 (0-68-480514-6), $599.

Conceived and produced in association with the Renaissance Society of America, this work presents a panoramic view of the cultural movement and the period of history beginning in Italy from approximately 1350, broadening geographically to include the rest of Europe by the middle- to late-15th century, and ending in the early 17th century. Each of the nearly 1,200 entries provides a learned and succinct account suitable for inquiring readers at several levels. These readable essays covering the arts and letters, in addition to everyday life, will be appreciated by general readers and high-school students. The thoughtful analyses will enlighten college students and delight scholars. A selective bibliography of primary and secondary sources for further study follows each article.

American National Biography. Editors John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. 24 vols. 22,968p. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999 (0-19-520635-5), $2,500.

Over 10 years in the making,
American National Biography is a fascinating study of the people who have shaped the United States. Why replace the
Dictionary of American Biography instead of merely updating it through supplements? Because the editors include new scholarship and people who were missed in the original, especially women and ethnic minorities. Numbering 24 volumes and containing 17,500 entries, the work offers readable, informative, and critical biographies for each subject, the location of their papers (if they exist), and selective bibliographies. Excellent indexes-subject, contributor, place of birth, and occupation-enhance use. This is an outstanding set that will be heavily consulted for many years to come.

Encyclopedia of the Novel. Editor Paul Schellinger. 2 vols. 1,613p. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998 (1-57958-015-7), $270.

The history and development of the novel as a genre is the subject of this comprehensive, scholarly work. Its 650 essays are arranged alphabetically and focus on classic novels, great novel writers, types of novels, novels identified with particular countries or regions, technical and formal aspects of novels, theory, influence, and novel criticism. All of the entries are signed and have been contributed by specialists, and conclude with brief biographies, lists of works, and further readings. There are two indexes: a title index and a detailed, general index. Highly recommended for advanced students of the novel.

Native American Literatures: An Encyclopedia of Works, Characters, Authors and Themes. Kathy J. Whitson. . 295p. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1999 (0-87436-932-0), $65.

This current, affordable title covers Native American poetry, fiction, and prose. It lists more than 300 alphabetically arranged entries, divided into four types: individual authors, individual works, important characters in works, and terms or events of historical importance. Summaries and interpretive information on texts that would be of use to high school and undergraduate students are provided. This volume would be a useful addition to public and academic libraries.

J.S. Bach. (Volume I of the Oxford Composer Companions) 626p. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999 (0-19-866208-4), $45.

Want to know everything about Bach and his music but are afraid to look? Fear no longer. In this impressive first volume of a new series from Oxford University Press, music researchers and aficionados alike will find information on every imaginable topic relating to Bach. Detailed, technical, and authoritative, over 1,000 alphabetically arranged entries cover Bach's life, family, pupils, and patrons as well as musical and technical terms. The lengthier essays cover his major works, compositions, recordings, and impact on various musical traditions. Current Bach festivals are also noted. The text is enriched with illustrations of Bach, his family tree, and manuscripts. An extremely useful annotated list of Bach's compositions by category and title completes the volume. This compilation is destined to be a standard source for years to come.

Popular Musicians. Editor Steve Hochman. 4 vols. 1,253p. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1999 (0-89356-986-0), $320.

Fans of popular music-rock, folk, country, rap, hip-hop, disco, and blues-will enjoy leafing through this set. Over 500 alphabetically arranged, signed articles recap the careers, successes, and critical reputations of a wide range of contemporary artists. Each profile begins with a summary listing the artist's musical style, first album release, and list of band members, and ends with a select discography, awards, and cross-references to other relevant articles. Other useful features include a glossary, bibliography, time line of first releases, index of song and album titles, and list of articles by musical style. Superbly organized, attractively presented, and filled with interesting information in an easy-to-read format, this source should be wildly popular in school, public, and academic libraries alike.

International Dictionary of Black Composers. Editor Samual A. Floyd. 2 vols. 2,000p. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999 (1-884964-27-3), $270.

This exceptional work provides information on composers of African heritage from around the world during the last 300 years. The 185 signed essays, most of which are accompanied by full-page portraits, are substantial in their coverage and analysis. Lists of compositions by genre, discographies, and printed works are also included. Those wanting further information will find the extensive bibliographies and inclusion of major archival holdings indispensable. Although all music genres are embraced, nearly half of the 185 entries are on classical composers who have seldom received significant public notice or mention in other reference sources. This is a truly outstanding source that libraries will not want to do without.

Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Editor Donna Olendorf. 5 vols. 3,442p. Detroit: Gale, 1999 (0-7876-1868-3), $499.

An advisory board of physicians and librarians worked with health-care professionals and medical writers to compile this encyclopedia. The 1,500 alphabetical entries cover 905 disorders and conditions, 235 tests and procedures, and 325 treatments and therapies (including drugs and alternative treatments). The signed entries are one to three pages long and include shaded boxes with definitions of key terms, brief bibliographies, and lists of organizations for referral. Black-and-white photographs, line drawings, and charts augment the text. This encyclopedia bridges the gap between basic consumer sources and specialized medical texts.

World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting. Eva Crane. 720p. New York: Routledge, 1999 (0-415-92467-7), $95.

The author, who was director of the International Bee Research Association for 35 years, provides extensive coverage of historical and methodological information about bees, beekeeping, and honey. It is an excellent reference source with chapters about honey-storing insects throughout the world, the origins of hive beekeeping in ancient Egypt, controlling bees, drinks made from the fermentation of honey, and beeswax. Over 400 black-and-white drawings, diagrams, and woodcuts illustrate the book. This fascinating volume is a useful addition to all reference collections.

Oxford Companion to Food. Alan Davidson. 880p. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999 (0-19-211579-0), $65.

The 2,650 alphabetical entries in this compendium represent 20 years of Davidson's work. They include information on specific foods, cooking terms, culinary tools, countries, traditions, and biographies of chefs and cookbook authors. The entries for countries cover foods, habits, and holidays with special foods. The entries about traditions cover religious laws that deal with food and/or fasting, such as Ramadan and kosher laws. There are 39 longer articles about staple foods such as rice and apples. A comprehensive bibliography provides access to further information. The book does not contain recipes, but it is an excellent companion for sources such as the Larousse Gastronomique.

Wiley Encyclopedia of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Editor John G. Webster. 24 vols. 19,000p. New York: Wiley, 1999 (0-471-13946-7), $7,995. Price includes one-year subscription to the online version.

Containing over 1,400 articles, this is the most comprehensive encyclopedia of electrical engineering available. The articles were written and reviewed by an international group of engineers with academic or research affiliations. The entries are grouped into 64 broad categories such as solid-state circuits, fuzzy systems, and medical imaging. Mathematical explanations, tables, and graphics illustrate the articles. An extensive index by subject and keyword makes locating material easy. All of the articles have bibliographies. Larger public libraries and academic libraries with engineering majors will find this to be a useful source.

Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition. Editor Michele J. Sadler. 3 vols. 2,200p. San Diego: Academic Press, 1999 (0-12-226694-3), $799. Price includes a one-year subscription to the online version.

This encyclopedia contains signed articles with bibliographies written by an international group of distinguished academics, research scientists, and food-industry professionals. The alphabetical entries cover the scientific, political, and social aspects of nutrition. Among the subjects included are individual nutrients and foods, anatomy and physiology, nutritional therapy for diseases and conditions, and subjects such as nutritional management of refugees, nutrition education, religious customs, and folklore. Appendixes with charts of weights and measures, nutritional allowances, and nutritional content of foods appear in each volume. In-depth coverage of the scientific, political, and social aspects of nutrition set this work apart from other reference sources in the field.

Encyclopedia of Genetics. Editor Jeffrey A. Knight. 2 vols. 618p. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1999 (0-89356-978-X), $200.

Breakthrough discoveries in the field of genetics have increased the general public's interest in the area. The
Encyclopedia of Genetics was created to meet the demands of such users. The 172 articles range from 1,000 to 3,500 words and include key features such as a list of the defined words and a significance section that summarizes the article. The contributors give clear explanations of complex theories and methods aimed at the general reader. This is a unique resource to answer genetic questions from the nonscientific community.

Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More Than 400 Languages. Andrew Dalby. 734p. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999 (0-231-11568-7), $50.

More than 400 living and extinct languages are detailed in this information-packed reference. Each article covers the political, social, and historical background of the language by stating the number of speakers; the countries where it is spoken; how many dialects it spawned; its origins, characteristics, and examples of both words and the alphabet; and pronunciations. Anecdotes, literary quotations, and charts of script and numerals appear in sidebars to illustrate the cultures connected to the languages. This is an essential guide to the languages of the world.

Dictionary of Modern American Usage. Bryan A. Garner. 752p. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999 (0-19-507853-5), $30.

This wonderfully written work aims to help people use language so they will use the right words to say what they mean. Garner relies on modern sources rather than historical precedent to determine the current, correct usage. He even advises writers about which words to avoid altogether. Each of the approximately 7,000 entries provides a definition, discusses the usage of the word, provides illustrative quotations, and gives citations to the references and quotations. This is an entertaining, witty, and unpretentious resource that will always come in handy in the public or academic library.

Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict. Editor Lester Kurtz. 3 vols. 973p. San Diego: Academic Press, 1999 (0-12-227010-X set), $675.

This outstanding three-volume set seeks to answer basic questions about modern warfare, conflict, violence, and peace, but also covers current topics such as police brutality, aggression in sports, television violence, and animal aggression. The greatest value of this multivolume work is its interdisciplinary coverage. The set is broken down into 15 subject areas covering approximately 200 different issues. Each article is about 9,000 words, including a definition of the subject, illustrations, glossaries, and bibliographies. It is an excellent source written by scholars from around the world.

American Military Leaders from Colonial Times to the Present. John C. Fredriksen. 2 vols. 946p. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1999 (1-57607-001-8), $150.

Prominent men and women of the military are the scope of this reference work. Coverage includes the most famous of leaders such as Grant, Patton, and Schwarzkopf; but what makes the source so outstanding is its inclusion of forgotten leaders such as Native American Stand Watie, aviator Jackie Cochran, and army educator Alden Partridge. Biographies range from two to three pages, concluding with a bibliography. Photographs and illustrations are included, and both a subject index and a list of leaders organized by their military titles can be found at the end of volume two.

International Encyclopedia of the Stock Market. Editor Michael Sheimo. 2 vols. 1,320p. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999 (1-884964-35-4), $275.

The first major work of its kind to discuss international stock markets, this encyclopedia is essential for anyone interested in investing in today's global markets. Because of the increasing globalization of businesses, American investors can no longer limit themselves to information about the U.S. stock market. These two volumes define over 2,000 terms dealing with the history and practices of international stock markets in industrialized as well as developing countries, and discuss individuals, institutions (such as banks, brokerage and leveraged buyout firms), events, and slang terms relating to stock markets. The readable entries provide accurate, up-to-date information of interest to the burgeoning number of private and professional investors. This work is a valuable addition to school, public, and academic library collections.

Chronology of World Slavery. Junius P. Rodriguez. 580p. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1999 (0-87436-884-7), $99.

This work establishes the fact that slavery has existed since ancient times and tries to dispel the myth that slaves are only people of color. Designed to complement the two-volume
Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery (1997), it is much more than a mere chronology of world slavery. The work is divided into six geographical sections (ancient world, Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the United States), each with an introduction and chronology. More than 100 brief sidebar essays interspersed throughout the book enhance its readability. Extremely useful are 80 full-text historical and legal documents ranging from ancient times to the present, covering topics from the "Code of Hammurabi" to "The Brazilian Government Recognizes Slave Labor" (1985). An extensive index and 50-page bibliography appear at the end of the work. Recommended for all libraries.

Encyclopedia of Christmas. Editor Tanya Gulevich. 750p. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1999 (0-7808-0387-6), $48.

Like sparkling lights and colorful ornaments on a holiday tree, Encyclopedia of Christmas offers myriad facts all in one place. The subtitle says it all: "Nearly 200 alphabetically arranged entries covering all aspects of Christmas, including folk customs, religious observances, history, legends, symbols, and related days from Europe, America, and around the world." The Encyclopedia's strong point is its international coverage reflected in the 20 or so entries devoted to Christmas in specific countries or regions all over the world, and the multicultural flavor of its articles. Web sites are offered for countries, Christmas trees, customs, and Christmas movies. Fact- and fun-filled, this is a resource for everyone.

Encyclopedia of Christianity. Editor Erwin Fahlbusch. 912p. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999 (0-8028-2413-7), $100.

The Encyclopedia of Christianity is the first of a five-volume English translation of the third revised edition of Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon. Its German articles have been tailored to suit an English readership, and articles of special interest to English readers have been added. The encyclopedia describes Christianity through its 2000-year history within a global context, taking into account other religions and philosophies. A special feature is the statistical information dispersed throughout the articles on the continents and over 170 countries. Social and cultural coverage is given to such issues as racism, genocide, and armaments, while historical content shows the development of biblical and apostolic traditions. This comprehensive work, while scholarly, is intended for a wide audience and will set the standard for reference works on Christianity.

Encyclopedia of Human Emotions. Editor David Levinson. 2 vols. 768p. New York: Macmillan, 1999 (0-02-864766-1), $225.

Why do people cry, how do we manage horror, what do facial expressions tell us about a person? The answers to these questions and many more can be found in the
Encyclopedia of Human Emotions, which brings together what is known about the nature, causes, expressions, and societal role of emotions. The 146 alphabetically arranged articles are sprinkled with photos, illustrations, and references to literature. Also covered are biographies, emotions that have been the subject of scientific study, and how emotions relate to society (e.g., hate crimes). The plain language of this unique encyclopedia makes it accessible to high-school students and the general user, while the level of scholarship makes this a useful resource to researchers as well.

History of the Internet: a Chronology, 1843 to the Present. 312p. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1999 (1-57607-118-9), $65.

While books about the Internet abound, books on its history do not. This work is a readable chronology of one of the biggest technological advances of the 20th century. It begins in 1843 with Charles Babbage's calculating machine and moves through the 19th century with entries on Morse and the telegraph, Bell and the telephone, and the innovation of Herman Hollerith and his electric tabulating system. Entries trace the early 20th century through the invention of the electronic binary computer (1939) to Arpanet (1969). Most attention is spent from 1970 onward and continues to 1998 when America Online bought Netscape. Chronological entries are readable and thorough, and include biographical sidebars on important individuals such as Bill Gates. The chapter on future trends covers topics such as the Microsoft trial, advertising on the Internet, and Internet2. The extensive bibliography and glossary, importance of the topic, readability of the entries, and large number of topics covered make this an important work for all types of libraries and readers.

World Literature and Its Times: v. 1 Latin American Literature. Joyce Moss. 562p. Detroit: Gale, 1999 (0-7876-3726-2), $105.

This accessible and useful source is the first of a 12-volume series focusing on major fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from various geographic areas of the world. It uniquely combines literary and historical information, arranged in alphabetical order by the title of the work. Each of the 50 entries includes an introduction that discusses the work by genre, place, and period; a description of its social and political background; a summary of plot or contents; a description of the social, political, or literary events of its author's life and the way they have influenced the plot or contents of the work; and a list of sources and further readings. The remaining 11 volumes will cover the literatures of Africa, Asia, modern England and Ireland, Spain and Portugal, France, the Middle East, Italy, India, and Jewish literature. This series will be a welcome addition to public and academic libraries. It will be most useful to high school students and undergraduates.