v23 #3 From the Reference Desk

by | Jul 14, 2011 | 0 comments

by Tom Gilson  (Associate Editor, Against the Grain, and Head of Reference Emeritus, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29401)  <gilsont@cofc.edu>

The Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2010, 978-1588266866, $395) is a three-volume set that treats an issue central to today’s world politics.  Published by Lynne Rienner and edited by Cheryl A. Reubenberg, the Encyclopedia represents five years of effort by over 100 scholars and consists of more than 900 articles that run in length from brief definitions to twenty-page discussions.

Topic coverage, while diverse, stays focused on relevant issues and attempts to fairly reflect the perspectives of the various players.  Essays range from those covering influential people, organizations, and movements to those dealing with treaties, government reports, and diplomatic agreements.  There are articles on the numerous wars and intifadas that have marked the conflict as well as those discussing the various attempts at peace and reconciliation.  Controversial issues are discussed ranging from Anti-Semitism to the Barrier (the “Separation Wall” constructed by Israel between it and its Arab neighbors) to the Economic Effects of the Occupation to Terrorism and Suicide Bombings.  In addition, there are articles on a variety of other countries that have been involved or affected including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the other Middle East nations, as well as the United States, Turkey, and the European countries.  Each entry provides historic context as well as facts about recent developments.  They are thorough and grounded in solid scholarship with impressive bibliographies.  While not highly illustrated there are number of relevant and helpful maps.  Although a topical index is not provided and would be a help, the general index is comprehensive and well-constructed with page references provided for the various aspects within the main terms listed.  In addition, the set utilizes capitalization within the text of each article to indicate other article titles as well as numerous “see also” references to related entries.

The Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is an impressive contribution to the scholarship on a significant topic.  Admittedly there have been other well received recent efforts like the Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political, Social, and Military History (ABC-CLIO, 978-1851098415, 2008, $395) and the Historical Dictionary of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Scarecrow, 978-0810853430, 2006, $108.90).  However, given its obvious attention to scholarly detail, this current work is well worth considering — even by libraries who also own the other two titles.  In short, academic and large public libraries serious about collecting on this seminal issue will want to add this title to their collections.

The Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine (2010, 978-1412961158, $995) is a specialized set from Sage Reference that utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to offer comprehensive coverage of a field attracting growing interest.  Editor Lyle J. Micheli notes in his introduction that today’s practitioners of sports medicine come from a variety of fields and include orthopedists, athletic trainers, nutritionists, and psychologists among others.  It is fair to say that he, his Advisory Board, and his contributors have done their best to see that these varied perspectives are recognized and represented in the approximately 600 articles contained in this set.

Examining the Reader’s Guide that organizes the entries into related subject groups gives a solid indication of the diversity of coverage.  As one might expect, articles cluster around subjects like the medical conditions affecting sports participation, injuries and disorders, the prevention and treatment of injuries as well as rehabilitation and physical therapy.  But there are also articles that look at biomechanics, diet and nutrition, conditioning and training, and sports psychology as well as those discussing more controversial issues like doping and performance enhancement, women in sports, and sports’ role in society.  Overall, the articles appear well written and balanced with the intention of informing both the interested lay reader as well as the serious scholar.  Given the subject coverage, the language can be technical at times, but necessary definitions and explanations are provided within the text of each article, and there is a useful glossary in the last volume of the set.  A list of further readings is provided for each entry, but they are not necessarily a bibliography of those resources used by the author in writing the article.  Rather, they are intended to give the reader a select list of articles and Websites that are chosen “for first-stop research on the subject.”  There are also two appendices, including one showing numerous techniques for taping and bracing injuries that includes B&W photos and another appendix listing relevant sports medicine organizations. “See also” references are provided for each article, and the general index is well structured and thorough.

With the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine, Editor Lyle J. Micheli and his team of expert contributors provide a reference set that will be valued by a number of users from the professional practitioner to the serious student to the concerned athlete.  The articles are full of useful facts and analysis that will answer a wide variety of questions, whether they are from the weekend jogger inquiring at the public library or from a nursing student using an academic or medical library.  The Encyclopedia is also available in electronic format, and those libraries that are interested can request a free 30-day online trial at www.sagepub.com/freetrialHowever, whether it is in print or online, this is a resource that many libraries will want to add to their collections. 

This present set also serves to update and complement much of the information in Blackwell’s Encyclopaedia of Sports Medicine, which is a multi-volume series published from 1993 through 2009.  This 14-book series is an IOC Medical Commission effort done in collaboration with the International Federation of Sports Medicine.

(Further information is available at http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/seriesbyseries.asp?ref=ESM.)

The Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media (2011, 9780761926887, $150) is another recent Sage Reference publication deserving of attention.  This one-volume work is edited by John D.H. Downing, the founding director of the Global Media Research Center at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.  The Encyclopedia is one of those works that tries to lend definition to a topic by bring together a diverse array of facts, issues, and concepts into a common related theme.

In attempting this, Downing and his contributors cast a wide net.  The term “Social Movement Media” encompasses what are also known as alternative, community, grassroots, and participatory media as well as subcategories like feminist, environmental, radical, and ethnic/racial media.  The focus here is not the mainstream and establishment media, nor is it restricted to the United States and Europe.   As a result, readers will find entries that cover topics ranging from Alternative Media in Malaysia to Indigenous Radio Stations in Mexico to the Samizdat Underground Media in the Soviet Bloc.  There are also articles covering specific publications and outlets ranging from the Advocate to the Whole Earth Catalog to Al-Jazeera, while the revolutionary influence of the Internet is captured in articles on Social Movement Media in the 2009 Crisis in Iran, the Internet and the Fall of Dictatorship in Indonesia and Women Bloggers in Egypt.  In addition, the role of the arts in these movements is embodied in separate entries that offer coverage of topics like Street Theater in Canada, Activist Cinema in France, Reggae and Resistance in Jamaica, and Dance as Social Activism in South Asia.   Value-added features include a helpful Reader’s Guide grouping related articles under broader categories, a well-constructed index as well as lists of further readings and “see also” references after each entry.  The writing is reader-friendly and accessible but solidly grounded in scholarship.

The Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media is an ambitious effort.  It explains to readers the meaning, dynamics, and social implications of what is collectively called social movement media and traces its development from the beginning of the 20th century through to the present.  The Encyclopedia offers a revealing perspective on the numerous and powerful forms of media that exist outside the mainstream.  Both researchers and interested lay readers will find the set of real value in offering both an overall perspective as well as in addressing specific questions.

With the exponential growth of social networking and other new technologies, the capabilities of social movement media can only be increased and their influence and importance enhanced.  Given this, one hopes that, as the editor notes in his introduction, this encyclopedia is “a down payment on a second, much more extensive project.”  The topic is certainly worthy of the effort.  Regardless, academic libraries will want the current edition either in reference or circulating collections depending on need.  Larger public libraries will also be wise to consider it.  (The electronic edition is priced at $190 and is available via Sage Reference Online.)

Two recently-published encyclopedias focus on the same fascinating and engaging topic.  However, they take somewhat different approaches.  ABC-CLIO’s Space Exploration and Humanity: A Historical Encyclopedia (2010, 978-1851095148, $180) offers a broader perspective that takes into account the cultural, economic, political, and societal elements of the issues involved.  Spaceflight: A Historical Encyclopedia (2010, 978-0313378690, $295) published by Greenwood Press (an ABC-CLIO imprint) is more interested in the history of manned and robotic flights as well as in providing entries on the important pioneers of, and current contributors to, the world of space exploration.

Produced in conjunction with the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, Space Exploration and Humanity is a two-volume set that employs both a “topical and alphabetical arrangement” in organizing its entries.  The main structure is a topical hierarchy with the articles within each topic listed alphabetically.  For example the broad topic Military Applications is divided into subtopics like Antisatellite Systems, Ballistic Missiles and Defense, Doctrine and Warfare, etc.  These in turn are divided into more specific areas of interest like High Altitude Nuclear Tests, Strategic Defense Initiative, and Military Space Doctrine.  Admittedly, this is a useful arrangement for the serious student, especially in that it both allows and encourages research into related aspects of a topic.  However, it also requires particular attention to finding aids like the tables of contents and the general index.  In fact, the editors provide a very thorough section on “Using this Encyclopedia” which is intended specifically for undergraduates.  Reading this section is a must in order to make the most effective use of the set and in some ways serves as short tutorial on the research process itself.

Naturally a good deal of attention is paid to the science of space exploration with sections on Astrobiology, Astrophysics, Planetary Sciences, Biomedical Science, and Technology and Engineering among others.  These sections contain articles ranging from those on High Energy Astrophysics to Asteroids; Exoplanets to Scientific Detectors; Comets to Aerospace Medicine; and Flight Software to Landing Craft.  However, there is also a large section on Space and Society including entries that discuss topics in Space Education, Media and Popular Culture, Space Politics, and the Economics of Space.  The set is illustrated with photos and a number of helpful tables and charts.  There are also sidebars containing short biographical sketches as well as brief bibliographies provided for each entry.  A useful glossary and a list of acronyms offer additional value to the set.

Serious efforts have been made to make Space Exploration and Humanity: A Historical Encyclopedia as comprehensive and authoritative as possible.  Scholarly care is evident in all aspect of this reference.  Initially, users may find the arrangement a bit confusing.  However, a reading of the “Using this Encyclopedia” section will make it understandable and is well worth the time.  In fact, time is a key to unlocking the true, full value of this encyclopedia.  While a solid index allows dipping into these two volumes for specific facts, it is constructed in a way that requires a commitment of time and effort to fully appreciate.  Needless to say, those interested in space exploration will welcome the task.  Academic and larger public libraries will be wise to give it their full consideration.

Spaceflight: A Historical Encyclopedia utilizes the more traditional alphabetical arrangement and is intended for a more popular audience.  The concentration in this three-volume set is on space flight and the people who make it happen.  It contains some 700 articles that treat “every human space mission, as well as all significant robotic lunar and planetary space exploration programs from the 1950s through the 2008 Space Shuttle and the Soyuz flights.”

Authored by Patrick J. Walsh, this encyclopedia manages to condense a large amount of information into interesting and readable articles that discuss the development and implementation of numerous space missions.  While the major emphasis is on the US and Soviet/Russian efforts, there is also coverage of the Chinese, Indian, and European Space Agency programs as well as others.  Another significant part of Mr. Walsh’s efforts are the biographies that highlight the careers and contributions of both well- and lesser-known astronauts, cosmonauts, taikonauts, and relevant scientists and engineers.  He also provides individual entries on national and international agencies responsible for space exploration.  The articles are written in an unassuming and straightforward style that should engage readers.  Mr. Walsh deserves credit for both his research and his enthusiastic and informed treatment of the numerous space programs and personalities discussed here.  Value-added features include a full list of the articles printed in each of the three volumes and a comprehensive index providing access to specific information.  Although the index is very helpful, any future edition would be enhanced by providing a topical index as well as offering “see also” references at the end of each article linking to related entries.  While individual entries do not have bibliographies, there is an overall bibliography in the third volume that is divided into broad subject categories providing valuable suggestions for further research.  There is also a thorough chronology of human spaceflight starting with Yuri Gagarin’s Vostok I mission in 1961 to the International Space Station Expedition 18 in 2008.

Spaceflight: A Historical Encyclopedia is well-researched and written in an accessible style that should appeal to high school students and first-year undergraduates as well as interested lay readers.  It should find a home in high school, public, and undergraduate libraries where there is interest.

(Both of these encyclopedias are available electronically.  Pricing and order information is available at: http://www.abc-clio.com/contact/customerService/.)

Grey House Publishing continues to update its various print directories.  Two recent examples include one of its old standbys, the Complete Learning Disabilities Directory (2010, 978-1592375868, $150) in its 17th edition.  The other is the Complete Mental Health Directory (2010, 978-1592375448, $165), a relative newcomer now in “only” its 7th edition.

As in past releases, the Complete Learning Disabilities Directory provides up-to-date listings for relevant associations, state and national programs, individual schools, colleges, and learning centers as well as specific camps & summer programs.  The Directory also provides contact information and descriptions for a variety of media from magazines to books and from videos to Websites and other computer resources.  There are also separate sections for classroom resources and testing materials as well as resources for developing vocational & transitional skills.  A variety of useful indexes are provided including those by subject, entry, publisher name, and geographic location.

Following in the footsteps of past editions, the Complete Learning Disabilities Directory remains a comprehensive resource that will be valued by those with learning disabilities and their families as well as by the teachers and professionals who serve them.

The Complete Mental Health Directory starts by providing lists of resources categorized under specific disorders ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to schizophrenia and including others like autism, eating disorders, gender identification, impulse control, attention deficit, psychosomatic, and sleep disorders as well as the newly-added category of pediatric and adolescent issues.  In addition, there are lists of state and national associations, government agencies, professional and support services, publishers of relevant resources, specific facilities listed by state, and clinical management resources from management to software companies.  Useful indexes arranged by disorder, entry, and geographic location are also included.

Both these directories provide one-stop, easy-to-use compendiums of essential information for people needing access to the contacts and resources listed.  Public libraries with patrons asking for this type information as well as academic libraries supporting education and psychology courses, should take a serious look at these two resources.

The information contained in both these resources is also available electronically via subscription to G.O.L.D. – Grey House Online Database.  For more information, pricing, etc., visit http://gold.gr

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