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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Barbara B. Adams, MLS (Duquesne University)
Description: Co-published simultaneously as The Reference Librarian, Numbers 91/92, 2005, this collection of articles on the editor's broadly stated theme of "the migration of reference materials in print to an electronic format accessible on the World Wide Web" contributes to the abundantly available information on this theme by emphasizing the migration process.
Purpose: The book gathers into a single, manageable volume the perspectives of experienced librarians from all kinds of libraries.
Audience: Representative articles by peers and counterparts from the U.S. and elsewhere invite the attention of school, public, academic, and special librarians, and could be a helpful overview for students preparing to work in the field. The editor's background in reference, library Web/electronic resources management, and instructional technology qualifies him to provide focus for this wide panorama.
Features: The book is studded with titles and descriptions of specific electronic resources. While some articles are devoted to a specific subject area or type of library as might be expected, the collection is more than a series of title lists. The opening article, for example, sweepingly traces the history of reference collections from their roots in ancient libraries, points out the difficulty of defining a reference work in current electronic environments, and speculates about the future of reference service and reference librarians. Paired, complementary articles on library-created ready reference Web sites and federated search tools or library assignments in an electronic age and cyberplagiarism provoke additional thinking about electronic resource organization and current instructional issues respectively.
Assessment: Overall, selectivity prevails within the articles themselves, but many references to sources of more comprehensive listings of electronic resources in a given field are included for those who need them. The index would be more useful if it did not omit so many of the Web resources named in the text. Depending on the reader's own areas of expertise, parts of the book may seem obvious, but as a whole, it is a useful overview offering many starting points for further exploration.