Monday, July 19, 2010
Authority: The publisher’s reputation is a measure of quality. Editors, advisors, consultants and contributors, and their qualifications and status, are also important.
Purpose: Why was the work produced and who is the intended client group?
Scope: Is the publication comprehensive or selective? Is it intended for specialists or the popular market?
Bias: Some reference work s have an emphasis on information of interest to the country in which they are published.
Arrangement/Index/Navigation: Ease of use is vital. Printed works need a comprehensive and straightforward index, with references. Electronic works must be easy to navigate, finding what you want quickly and without getting lost.
Production: Printed reference works are often large and expensive publications, with attention to de sign, illustrations and maps, and binding. Similarly electronic works emphasize design and special features.
Accuracy and recency of information: Accuracy is most important. How up-to-date is the information? Large reference sources take years to compile: how and how often is the work updated? Check the recency of bibliographies. Test a work by looking up a topic you know well.
Examining reference works
To familiarize yourself with a reference work you need to examine it closely, and think about the kinds of questions it may answer.
Printed reference works
Bibliographic details and authority of publication: First study the title page to determine the type of work and its scope, as indicated in the title, the author‘s or editor’s name and background (qualifications, positions held, titles of earlier works), the publisher and the date of publication.
Purpose and special features: Read the preface or introduction for further information about the scope, special features, limitations if any, and comparison with other publications on the subject.
Quality of information and ease of use: Study the contents to determine its arrangement, the types of entries, use of cross references, any supplementary lists, indexes and the quality and kind of articles. Are they popular or technical, signed or unsigned, impartial or biased? Are bibliographical references included?
Supplementary or complete?: Compare the publication with earlier editions. Does this edition supersede earlier editions, or is it a supplement to earlier editions?
You will need to spend some time looking at reference works. There is a huge range of works, which answer all kinds of questions, and you can only become sufficiently familiar with them by exploring and using them.
You can find out a great deal about a work by reading the introductory material. This usually explains the purpose, the structure of the whole work and of each entry, the scope, and other relevant details.
Electronic reference works
Bibliographical de tails and authority of publication: Scan the first screen and click on any links to information such as ‘About us’ or ‘About this product/site’. Look for clues about the type of work, its purpose and scope, including the title, the author or editor’s name and background (qualifications, positions held, titles of earlier works), the publisher and date of publication or last update of the site.
Ease of use: Use links and navigation buttons to move around. Explore any menus, and try to get an overview of the arrangement – e.g., are there broad subject groupings, can you browse as well as search for specific topics? Are there appropriate links to related topics? Investigate any special features – e.g., clicking a word to hear it pronounced. Do the features add to the value of the information, or are they just “bells and whistles”? Do they slow down the retrieval of information (especially on the Web)?
Quality of information: Test the content with some standard enquiries, and compare the results. Search for recent information you are familiar with, and see how up-to-date the answers are. Are the articles general or technical, signed or unsigned, impartial or biased? Are bibliographical references included?
Web-based works: Some standard reference works have simply been ‘ported’ to the Web, whereas some make more use of its dynamic and virtual nature, including links to other websites. Many websites provide a collection of reference works that can be searched simultaneously. There are also significant sites that serve as reference works.
From: Using reference works. (2003). Retrieved January 14, 2004 from http://toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au/demosites/series3/309/
Barker, J. (2003, September 26). Critical evaluation of resources. Retrieved January 14, 2004 from University of California Berkeley Library Website: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/instruct/guides/evaluation.html
Ormondroud, J. (2003, August 15). Critically analyzing information sources. (M. Engle & T. Cosgrove, Eds.). Retrieved January 14, 2004 from Cornell University Library Website: http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/skill26.htm
Rettig, J. (1996). Beyond cool: Analog models for reviewing digital resources [Electronic version]. Online, 20, 52-64. Retrieved January 14, 2004 from http://web.archive.org/web/20040209025359/http://www.onlinemag.net/SeptOL/rettig9.html
See section entitled Comparative Criteria for Reviewing Reference Books and Web Sites.
Examination of Printed Reference Works
Type of work (e.g. dictionary, gazetteer)
Author or editor (if there is one)
Place of publication
Date of publication
Purpose of work
Arrangement (e.g. alphabetical listing)
Example of a question it might answer
Examination of a Internet reference works/sites
Type of site (e.g. directory, collection of works, information on a particular topic)
Publication details – organization, place, publisher?
Purpose of work
Access (e .g. search only, search and browse, choose a subject grouping from a menu)
Example of a question it might answer
Monday, July 12, 2010
- Annual publication
- Calendars, astronomical info
- Tabular information
- Some brief articles
Originally from the Greek, almenikhiaka (ephemeris)
ODLIS: Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science
An annual compendium of facts and statistics, current and retrospective, of practical use to readers. Almanacs may be general (e.g. World Almanac and Book of Facts) or related to a specific field or discipline (example: Almanac of American Politics). Originally, a book introduced by the Moors to Spain listing the days, weeks, and months of the year, with information about festivals, holidays, astronomical phenomena, etc.
Almanacs are often biased toward a particular country and present
- Retrospective statistics and facts
- Information about popular culture (e.g. sports and entertainment)
Almanacs answer such questions as:
- What is a hurricane?
- How many calories are in a tablespoon of butter?
- Where was Sir John A. McDonald born?
- What is the address of the Canadian Library Association?
- Who invented the stethoscope?
- What is the population of Winnipeg?
- How many home runs did Hank Aaron run?
Compendium ODLIS: Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science
A work which presents in condensed form the principal points of a larger work, or treats a larger subject or whole field of knowledge briefly, often in the form of an outline, and is prepared by someone other than the original author.
Yearbook ODLIS: Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science
An annual documentary, historical, or memorial compendium of facts, photographs, statistics, and other information about the preceding year, often limited to a specific country, institution, or subject (e.g. Supreme Court Yearbook, published by Congressional Quarterly). Some encyclopedia publishers offer an optional yearbook. Libraries usually place on continuation order and shelve them in the reference collection. Yearbooks of historical significance may be stored in archives or special collections. Synonymous with annual.
General yearbooks include a chronology of the year, biographies of newsmakers, obituaries, sports news, current statistical data and articles about events of the year. Information such as the following can be found in general yearbooks:
- Obituaries of significant people who have died during the year
- Description of disasters occurring during the year
- Winners of sporting events for the year
- Discussion of current controversial social problem
- Chronology of a political happening
Almanacs and yearbooks serve purposes such as:
- Recency (although dated with the current year, e.g. 2004, actual coverage is for the previous year)
- Brief facts
- Informal index
- Directory and biographical information
Handbook ODLIS: Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science
A reference book of compact size which provides useful factual information on a specific subject, organized for quick and easy reference. Statistical information is often published in the form of a handbook (example: Statistical Handbook on the American Family). Synonymous with manual.
- Originally a handbook was a book designed to be held in the hand, so of necessity it needed to be limited in content.
- A handbook usually treats one broad topic in a brief fashion or presents a survey of a subject.
- Exists for a variety of topics e.g.
o World records
o Holidays and anniversaries of the world
o Writing and citation style
o Description of diseases or disorders
- Handbooks answer such questions as:
o Are there any adverse side effects to this drug?
o What historic events happened on January 25?
o How do I format a bibliography?
o Is the CN Tower the tallest free standing structure?
o What do I wear to a formal evening wedding?
Evaluation and selection
o Print copies are relatively inexpensive but readability is very important
o Is it comprehensive within stated scope?
o Is information compiled in a unique way not available elsewhere?
o Does resource have a long-standing reputation?
o Are official sources identified in enough detail to lead to original resource?
o Are facts right most of the time?
o Is current info included?
o Works of this type should undergo frequent revisions
- Indexing and searchability
o If in print, how useful is the index?
o If electronic, how easy is it to search for information?
What is held:
DEPENDS ON THE SIZE AND TYPE OF LIBRARY
DEPENDS ON THE NEEDS OF THE LIBRARY’S USERS AND STAFF
These two phrases, along with selection criteria, will become the deciding factors in decisions about reference materials. What is required in one library with one group of patrons will not be required in a different library with another set of users.
The following titles are representative, but not exhaustive, “guides to the selection of reference materials”. Don’t forget about them and do use them throughout your reference studies. They will prove valuable allies in your struggles through the bewildering yet exhilarating mazes of reference sources.
Ref Z 1035.1 .A353 American reference books annual / Bohdan S Wynar, editor in chief; Anna Grace Patterson, editor [annual]
Ref Z 5848 .A72 1997 ARBA guide to subject encyclopedias and dictionaries / [edited by] Susan C. Awe.
Ref Z 1365 .B67 1996 Canadian reference sources: an annotated bibliography / Mary E. Bond, compiler and editor, Martine M. Caron, co-compiler.
Ref AE 1 .E48 1995 Encyclopedias, atlases & dictionaries / Marion Sader, Amy Lewis, eds.
Z 1035.1 .C5 2000 Fundamental reference sources / James H. Sweetland 3rd ed.
Ref Z 1035.1 G89 Guide to reference books / edited by Robert Balay. 11th ed.
Ref Z 1035.1 .G91 Guide to reference materials for Canadian libraries / editor: Kristi Nilsen.
Ref Z 1037.1 S34 1998 Guide to reference materials for school library media centers / Barbara Ripp Safford.
Ref PE 1611 K57 1992 Kister’s best dictionaries for adults & young people / Kenneth F. Kister.
Ref AE 1 .K57 1994 Kister’s best encyclopedias: a comparative guide to general and specialized encyclopedias / Kenneth F. Kister.
Z 1035.1 L59 1998 Madame Audrey’s guide to mostly cheap but good reference books for small and rural libraries / Audrey Lewis.
Z 1035 .A1 R43 Reader’s adviser / Marion Sader , editor. 14th ed.
Z 1035.1 R435 2000 Recommended reference books for small and medium-sized libraries and media centers / Bohdan S. Wynar, ed.
Ref Z 1035.1 .R44 1992 Reference sources for small and medium-sized libraries / Jovian P. Lang, ed.
Ref Z 1035.1 .T66 1991 Topical reference books / Marion Sader, ed.
Ref Z 1035.1 .W34 1998 Walford’s guide to reference material, volume 3: generalia, language and literature, the arts / edited by Anthony Chalcraft, Ray Prytherch and Stephen Willis.
Ref Z 1035.1 .W34 2000 Walford’s guide to reference material, volume 2: social and historical sciences, philosophy and religion / edited by Alan Day and Michael Walsh.
Ref Z 1035.1 .W34 1999 Walford’s guide to reference material, volume 1: science and technology / edited by Marilyn Mullay and Priscilla Schlicke.
Z 1035.1 .H54 1998 Where to find what: a handbook to reference service / James M. Hillard. 4th ed.
Booklist: includes reference books bulletin http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/publishing/booklist_publications/booklist/booklist.cfm
Library Journal http://www.libraryjournal.com/
Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) http://www.rusq.org/
Monday, July 5, 2010
Organisational directories are the major source of information about organizations. These directories are lists of organizations arranged either alphabetically by name of the organization with access by subject, or classified by subject with an alphabetical index under name. They include details such as the full name of the agency and or organization, its address, telephone number, names of personnel or office bearers, its function or purpose and additional information such as brief histories, date of establishment, activities, services and publications.
In order to be effective, a directory should
- be up-to-date
- be up-dated regularly
- include sufficient information to meet clients’ requirements
- allow easy retrieval of information
- include entries which are edited to ensure a uniform approach
Directories are mainly used to identify and contact organizations and people. They may be used by companies to draw up mailing lists, by market researchers to select random samples for opinion surveys, and by researchers to find current information about organizations, associations and people, or to study historical information (in older directories).
It is important to examine an unfamiliar directory closely before use, because the content and arrangement can vary. There may be several publications covering the same subject field.
There are hundreds of directories to choose from. When a library selects which titles to acquire, the following factors should be taken into consideration:
- money available
- space available
- relevance to the activities and interests of the library’s clients
- changing national and international circumstances
- value for money
Information is usually collected by sending questionnaires to organizations and people eligible to appear in the directory. A form is sent annually for amendments.
Choose examples of organizational directories from the list below. Fill in the details for as many as you can locate (at least 5). Photocopy the headings if you need additional space.
|Australian education directory||Encyclopedia of associations|
|Business who's who in Australia||The governments of Australia: the people and the departments|
|Commonwealth government directory||Press, radio and TV guide|
|Directory of Australian associations||Who owns whom|
|Direcory of higher education courses||World of learning|
|Directory of special libraries in Australia|
|Place, publisher, date|
|Intended user group|
Using sources you are familiar with, suggest a type of organizational directory which is likely to provide the answers to the following questions – e.g. a business directory. (You do not need to give the exact title or bibliographic details.)
|1. Which universities offer education courses by distance education?||Education|
|2. What is the circulation of the Pennith city star newspaper?||Press/media guide|
|3. How many people are members of the Australian Trombone Association?||Associations|
|4. Does the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority have a library?||Libraries|
|5. Who is the Minister for Health in Victoria?||Government|
|6. I want to find out which business owns Canberra Theatre Ltd?||Business|
|7. How many people belong to the National Association of Pizza Operators based in Santa Claus, Illinois?||American business|
|8. What is the postal address for the Australian Tourist Commission?||Government|
|9. Is there an Estonian newspaper published in Australia? If so, how much does it cost?||Press/media guide|
|10. Who is the Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University?||Universities directory|
|11. Who is the President of the American Baptist Historical Society?||Australian government|
|12. What is the address of the Interleaf Australia Pty Ltd?||Business|
|13. When was the University of Oxford founded?||Universities|
|14. Who is the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and trade?||Australian government|
|15. Does the J.V. Barry Library at the Australian Institute of Criminology supply interlibrary loans?||Australian libraries|
|16. I am looking for the address of the Golestan Place Museum in Iran.||Museum directory|
|17. How many people work for the company Searchscene?||Business|
|18. What is the purpose of the Australian Consumers Association?||Association|
|19. Which company owns Orlando Wines?||Business|
|20. I would like a list of Australian magazines about aerobics and fitness.||Press/media guide|
Find the answer to the following questions using organizational directories. Name the source and give its bibliographic details.
1. Who is the President of the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopa?
Prof. Alemayehu Teferra
World of learning, London, Europa, 1998, p.450.
2. How many people belong to the Circus Federation of Australia?
Directory of Australian associations, Edition 32, Melbourne, Information Australia Group, July 1998 – November 1998, p.264.
3. I would like a list of magazines about disability issues published in Australia.
Press, radio and T.V. guide 1997-1998, 34th ed., Redfern, N.S.W., Media Monitors Australia, 1997, p. 227.
4. What is the address of the Australian Government Solicitor?
Blackall Street, Barton, ACT, 2600.
Commonwealth government directory, Canberra, AusInfo, May 1998, p. 51.
5. Does Bunton Development Ltd which is based in Hong Kong own any companies?
Yes; Quantronics Manufacturing (Hong Kong) Ltd.
Who owns whom: 1998/99: Australasia, Asia, Middle East and Africa, High Wycombe, Bucks., Dun & Bradstreet, 1998, p.297.
6. When was the Houseboat Association of America founded?
Encyclopedia of associations, 29th ed., Detroit, Mich., Gale Research, 1995, vol. 1, part 2, p. 2645.
7. What is the address of the Universitat de Barcelona?
Gran Via de Les Cortes Catalanes 585, 08007, Barcelona, Spain
World of learning, London, Europa, 1998, p.1368
8. What is the Internet address for the Yeronga Institue of TAFE?
Australian education directory, Camberwell, Vic., Australian Council for Educational Research, 1998, p.95.
9. Does Flinders University of South Australia have an undergraduate course in environmental studies?
Directory of higher education courses 1999, Sydney, New Hobson’s Press, 1998, p.85.
10. What is the address of Tosca Travelgoods (Aust) Pty Ltd?
327 Warrigal Road, Cheltenham, Victoria, 3192
Business who’s who of Australia, 31st ed., Crows Nest, N.S.W., Riddell Publishing, c1997, vol. 1, p. 965.
11. Are any Khmer newspapers published in Australia?
Yes; Smaradey Khmer published in Fairfield, N.S.W.
Press, radio and T.V. guide 1997-1998, 34th ed., Redfern, N.S.W., Mediai Monitors Australia, 1997, p.122.
12. Who is the contact person for the Motor Trades Association of Queensland?
Directory of Australian associations, Edition 32, Melbourne, Information Australia Group, July 1998 – November 1998, p.447 or p.526.
13. Which Australian company owns Coconut Beach Rainforest Resort?
Darrell James Limited.
Business who’s who of Australia, 31st ed., Crows Nest, N.S.W., Riddell Publishing, c1997, vol. 1, p. 1229.
14. What is the function of the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council?
Provides advice to and supports the implementation of the goals of the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference.
Commonwealth government directory, Canberra, AusInfo, May 1998, p. 200.
15. I want a list of the New South Wales Government Ministers.
The governments of Australia: the people and the departments, Melbourne, International Public Relations, 1998, N.S.W. Section.
16. What line of business is Cressey Chemicals (Australia) Pty Ltd involved in?
Wholesale chemicals, Importer
Business who’s who of Australia, 31st ed., Crows Nest, N.S.W., Riddell Publishing, c1997, vol. 1, p. 1285.
17. What is the phone number for the Northern Territory Employment and Training Authority?
(o8) 8999 4296
Australian education directory, Camberwell, Vic., Australian Council for Educational Research, 1998, p.18.
18. I am interested in a postgraduate course in aquaculture. Does the James Cook University of North Queensland offer any courses in this?
Yes, Graduate Diploma of Science and Master of Applied Science
Directory of higher education courses 1999, Sydney, New Hobson’s Press, 1998, p.165.
19. What is the address of the Tasmania Police Department Library?
South Arm Road, Rokeby, Tasmania, 7019
Directory of special libraries in Australia, 9th ed., Sydney, Australian Library and Information Association, Special Libraries Section, 1995, p.451.
20. Where is the Australian Industrial Relations Commission located?
80 Collins Street, Melbourne
Commonwealth government directory, Canberra, AusInfo, May 1998, p. 33.
Biographical sources contain information about the lives of people, usually arranged alphabetically by surname. They may include details of a person’s full name, gender, date and place of birth, a summary of their achievements, details about their personal life (e.g. family, interests), memberships, employment history including publications, offices and positions held, honours, awards and contact details. Some sources include pronunciations of names, portraits or photographs, and bibliographies leading to more detailed information.
These sources, usually called biographical dictionaries, may be classified according to
- occupation or profession
- living or dead people
Requests for biographical information are among the most frequent enquiries received by library staff. It may be necessary to question a client to find out what is already known about that person – e.g. their nationality and profession, are they alive or dead?
In order to find more information you would ask the enquirer for more detail, or use
- the catalogue
- sources such as Biography index, Current biography
- other periodical indexes – e.g. APAIS, Reader’s guide to periodical literature, Art index
- material held by the library written by that person – e.g. monographs by that person or written about that person – e.g. a bibliography.
Universal or internationalThese include entries for people from all countries, and may be limited to notable public figures rather than including sports personalities or film stars. They may include biblical, mythological or legendary people and may include living and/or dead people. Examples include International who’s who and Chamber’s biographical dictionary.
National or regional
These include entries for people from particular countries, states or local areas. Examples include Who’s who in Australia and Australian dictionary of biography.
Subject, occupation or special characteristic
These concentrate on a particular subject (e.g. science), occupation (e.g. medicine) or special characteristic (e.g. gender).
How information is collected
Publishers rely on historians or subject experts to collect and verify information using primary or archival sources. They may send questionnaires to the people they want to include in their source, and ask them to fill in the details. It is important to check the authority of the publisher, and be sure you avoid the ‘vanity’ publications where publishers sell the work in advance to people who want to be included.
Which biographical source?
When deciding which biographical source to use:
- Listen to or read the question carefully. Is the person alive or dead? – the Who’s whos include the living, whereas Dictionaries of biography only include the dead.
- Try to find out the nationality or the profession of the person. This information helps narrow which source to use.
- Find out whether the enquirer wants brief facts, an essay-type description of the person or periodical articles about the person?
Biographical information can also be found in other sources such as
- dictionaries with special biographical lists
- newspaper obituaries
Choose two well-known living people and look up their details in two biographical sources – e.g. Who’s who in Australia and International who’s who.
Search on the Internet to find a range of biographical sources. You should choose a search engine such as Yahoo at http://everything.yahoo.com/ Click on Reference then enter Biographical dictionaries as a search term. Click on Reference: Dictionaries: Subject and choose Biographical dictionary. Answer the following questions using this source.
|1. Can you search on positions held?||Yes|
|2. What is Elle McPherson's real name?||Eleanor Gow|
|3. Who was the French female artist born in 1822?||Marie Rosalie (Rosa) Bonheur|
|4. Which mountaineer wrote the autobiography titled Nothing venture, nothing win?||Sir Edmund Hillary|
Choose examples of biographical sources from the list below. Fill in the details for as many as you can locate (at least 5). Photocopy the headings if you need additional space.
|Australian directory of biography||International who's who of women|
|Chambers biographical directory||Monash biographical directory of 20th century Australia|
|Dictionary of national biography||Who's who|
|Dictionary of world biography||Who's who in Australia|
|International who's who||Who's who in the twentieth century|
Using sources you are familiar with suggest a type of biographical source which is likely to provide the answers to the following questions – eg an Australian biographical dictionary of the living. (You do not need to give the exact title or bibliographical details.)
Find the answer to the following questions using biographical sources. Name the source and give the biographical details.
1. When did Christopher Columbus first reach the New World?
Chambers’ biographical dictionary, Edinburg, Chambers, c1997, p. 128
2. In 1831 John Kinchela was appointed Attorney-General for New South Wales. Where was he born?
Australian dictionary of biography, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1967, vol. 2: 1788-1850, p. 51
3. When did Martina Navratolia migrate to the United States?
International who’s who 1998-99, 62nd ed., London, Europa Publications, 1998, p. 1109
4. I want information on the Australian honours system.
Who’s who in Australia, Melbourne, Herald and Weekly Times, 1999, p. 39.
5. What is Elton John’s middle name?
Who’s who, London, Black, 1998, p.1047
6. Where would I find some information on Ingrid Kristiansen, the Norwegian athlete?
International who’s who of women, London, Europa Publications, 1992, p. 243
7. George Munster, the Australian writer and editor, wrote a book about Rupert Murdoch which was published after Munster’s death in 1984. What was its title?
Monash biographical dictionary of 20th century Australia, Port Melbourne, Vic., Reed Reference Publishingn, c1994, p.387.
8. Who made the first ascent of Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hilary?
Chambers’ biographical dictionary, Edinburgh, Chambers, c1997, p.892
9. Does Judi Dench, the British actress, have any hobbies?
Yes – sewing, drawing, letter writing
Who’s who, London, Black, 1998, p.521.
10. I want some information on Martin Boyd, the Australian author, who was born in Switzerland in 1893.
Australian dictionary of biography, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1993, vol. 13: 1940-1980, p. 235.
11. Who was Nicolas Copernicus?
Polish astronomer who founded modern astronomy.
Chambers’ biographical dictionary, Edinburgh, Chambers, c1997, p. 440.
12. Was Germaine Greer born in Sydney or Melbourne?
Who’s who in Australia, Melbourne, Herald and Weekly Times, 1999, p. 719.
13. Which university did Stephen King, the American author, attend?
University of Maine
International who’s who 1998-99, 62nd ed., London, Europa Publications, 1998, p. 828.
14. When and where was Beethoven born?
Chambers biographical dictionary, Edinburgh, Chambers, c1990, p. 128.
15. What is the title of the first film made by François Truffaut, the French film director, who died in 1984?
The 400 blows
Who’s who in the twentieth century, Secaucus, N.J., Chartwell Books, c1993, p.207.
16. When was Lois O’Donoghue the Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission?
Who’s who in Australia, Melbourne, Herald and Weekly Times, 1999, p.1289.
17. Walter Burley Griffin and his wife won the international competition to design Canberra in 1912. What was his wife’s name?
Marion Lucy Mahoney
Monash biographical dictionary of 20th century Australia, Port Melbourne, Vic., Reed Reference Publishing, c1994, p.221.
18. Where would I find some information on Dizzy Gillespie, the American jazz trumpeter and composer, who lived from 1917-1993?
Who’s who in the twentieth century, Secaucus, N.J., Chartwell Books, c1993, p. 79.
19. Where was Edith Mathis, the Swiss Opera singer, born?
International who’s who of women, London, Europa Publications, 1992, p.287.
20. Where did George Cadbury, the English manufacturer and social reformer, set up his chocolate factory in 1879?
Barry Jones’ Dictionary of World Biography, Melbourne, Information Australia, c1994, p.119.
There are three types of geographical sources which provide information about places, including towns, cities, villages, rivers, mountains and lakes.
These portray elements of the three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional surface. There are many types of maps including physical, thematic, political and economic.
These are geographical dictionaries listing places and their locations. Gazetteers are important reference sources because they provide factual information about places. Recent editions describe the place as it is now, and older editions provide historical information. Entries in a gazetteer may include pronunciation, location, area, population, geographical and physical description and historical data.
These include maps, and indexes (similar to but not as detailed as a gazetteer) to help the client find information on the maps. Types of atlases include international, national, regional, economic, historical and road or street directories.
Note that political changes frequently require the addition of new information to directories, and alterations to maps and gazetteers.
Other sources of geographical information
Although maps, gazetteers and atlases are the traditional sources of geographical information, you may also find the following sources useful:
- encyclopedias – descriptions of countries, towns, cities and maps of particular areas
- yearbooks – name and boundary changes
- dictionaries – brief identification of larger places and pronunciation of geographical terms and place names
- biographical dictionaries – information on geographers and cartographers
- bibliographies – details of books containing geographical information
- periodical indexes – articles on geographical topics
- statistical sources – geographical information in tabular form
Accuracy – At the time of printing, national boundaries and place names should be accurate, but this information can become out of date very quickly.
Uniform treatment of place names – There may be a problem of transliterating non-Roman alphabets. Many directories follow patterns established by standards bodies.
Balance of coverage – A world atlas may give the most emphasis to maps of the country of publication.
Evaluating geographical sources
- You need to check the authority of the publisher, and make sure the coverage is balanced.
- Does the source include instructions on use?
- Does it include explanations of map symbols and projections used?
- Is the information up-to-date and are the maps easy to read?
- Does the source include additional information – e.g. tables showing the longest rivers in the world, highest mountain, etc?
ExerciseUsing a gazetteer or atlas from the reference collection, find the country in which the following places are located. Note that you may need to use more than one source.
10. Marys Harbour
The answers were found in Times atlas of the world, New generations ed., Sydney, HarperCollins, 1997.
Gosling, Mary. Learn Reference Work. pp.54-74. Canberra: DocMatrix, 2001.