<span class="padlock_text"></span> v28 #4 From the Reference Desk

by | Oct 2, 2016 | 0 comments

by Tom Gilson  (Associate Editor, Against the Grain, and Head of Reference Emeritus, College of Charleston,
Charleston, SC 29401)

ref_desk_pharmaandsocThe SAGE Encyclopedia of Pharmacology and Society (2016, 9781483350004, $650) is another set in the publisher’s collection of cross-disciplinary reference works.  The focus in these four volumes is on the pharmaceutical industry and where it intersects with socioeconomic, legal, and ethical concerns.  Needless to say, these are important issues that can benefit from the type of broad based, serious discussion that a scholarly subject encyclopedia can afford.

There are nearly 800 signed articles in this set dealing with topics ranging from drug companies to the various branches of pharmacology and from coverage of specific drugs to pharmacological issues as diverse as fluoridation, blood doping, vaccination, and drug labeling.  There are also a number of entries that look at business factors inherent in the industry, relevant laws and regulations, specific public health issues, not to mention ethical issues from the abuse of prescription drugs to lethal injection to the Tuskegee experiment.  Naturally, there are articles that deal with pharmacology and its social history including those on smallpox eradication, traditional and herbal medicines, patient rights, and the history of nutritional supplements.  A number of entries also look at the research end of the industry, as well as its infrastructure, noting various university programs and data sources in addition to numerous institutes, societies and government agencies.

The coverage offered in these four volumes is comprehensive and thorough and the information provided in the articles is factual, straightforward and written in a style suitable for both undergraduates and the informed lay reader.  Topic treatment is objective and includes both positive and critical observations as merited.  Value added features are what one would expect from a high quality work of reference.  A chronology introduces volume one while a glossary and appendix of primary sources and useful statistics rounds out the final volume.  Each entry has a bibliography and finding aids include an alphabetical list of entries and a very helpful Reader’s Guide to entries by subject category that is contained in all four volumes.  In addition, there is an easy to use general index to specific topics and subtopics.

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Pharmacology and Society is also available electronically via the SAGE Knowledge database.  As such, it can be searched individually or as part of the overall database to included information from other SAGE sources that your library may own.

The full text of SAGE Knowledge can be searched in either basic or advanced mode and both modes allow for Boolean logic, the “*” truncation, and the “?” wildcard symbol.  Basic searches can be broadly limited by content type, works and sections, availability, subject, publication date, suggested keyword and academic level.  Advanced searching employs a more detailed template that allows for adding more search boxes, as well as the capability to do more than full text searching.  Searches by title, abstract, keyword, DOI, ISBN are enabled.  There is also a more sophisticated ability to narrow and focus by person, publisher, subject, product, and document type.  Both modes allow for searching SAGE Video collections and SAGE Business Cases as well.

Searching within the actual encyclopedia is more limited.  The initial screen defaults to the A-Z list of entries and there is a basic search box immediately available as well as as the ability to click and go directly to entries alphabetically.  There is no advanced search capability but both the Readers Guide and the subject index from the print version are available with links the relevant text.  In addition, both the front and back matter that appear in the print set are available.

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Pharmacology and Society, both print and online, is another high quality resource from SAGE Reference.  It is a unique contribution that deals with a very complex topic of increasing importance and does so in a serious, informed and comprehensive fashion.  Academic libraries as well as those supporting medical and nursing programs would do well to give it serious consideration.


ref_desk_america-the-worldAmerica in the World, 1776 to the Present: A Supplement to the Dictionary of American History (2016, 9780684325057, $458) is a new release from Charles Scribner’s Sons, part of Macmillan Reference USA.  This two volume set updates and complements the 3rd edition of the classic Dictionary of American History (2003, 9780684314150, $1904).  Edited by Edward J. Blum, et al. this new reference attempts to add a transnational perspective to a work that numerous libraries already have on their shelves.  This new work looks at America’s global influence, while simultaneously examining how America has been influenced by its interaction on the world stage.

In the nearly 500 entries in this work, obvious efforts are made to keep the emphasis on the global and international perspective of the topics covered.  As you would expect, there are articles covering key topics in major areas of study like economics and business, law and legislation, politics, religion, the military and defense, and arts, culture, and literature. In addition, there are entries that focus on unique aspects of sensitive issues like immigration, globalization, human and civil rights, race, imperialism, and slavery and the slave trade.  Specific essays discuss the importance of noteworthy figures while others delve into the ways individual countries, continents, and regions have influenced, and been influenced by the U.S.  The essays are written for an undergraduate audience providing useful facts and historical background in an academic, but accessible fashion.  As noted above, the treatment of each topic is grounded within a larger transnational context showing the U.S. and the world as integral to each other. This approach is interwoven in the text of the article and gives the reader an obvious sense of America’s role and its varied impacts.  Each entry had a valuable bibliography and helpful “see also” references linking related entries.  Black and white photos and illustration are interspersed throughout the text.  A comprehensive general index is provided that makes finding specific information straightforward and relatively easy.

With America in the World, 1776 to the Present…  Mr. Blum, along with his fellow editors and contributors, offers students a clear sense of America and the double-edged impact of its ever increasing role in world affairs.  The entries in this set show how the United States and the other nations of the world are inextricably linked by our global interaction.  In offering this perspective, they have added a realistic reappraisal as well as an update and supplement to a set that has proven to be standard since originally being published in 1940.  The new set should stand side by side with the Dictionary of American History in academic library reference collections supporting American studies.


McFarland has just published a title that could find multiple audiences.  The Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime Fiction (2016, 978-0786475360, $65) by Mitzi M. Brunsdale has the potential to become part of both reference and circulating collections.  And given the explosion in popularity of authors like Stieg Larson, Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum, and Henning Mankell, it may also find its way on to the personal shelves of numerous crime fiction fans.

However, make no mistake, Ms. Brunsdale’s book is a serious work of scholarship.  She started this project with a growing sense that Nordic crime fiction was steeped in societal tensions caused by factors like an aging population, soaring immigration and a failure to assimilate, increasing crime rates, and bloated bureaucracies.  A look at her encyclopedia bears those suspicions out.

ref_desk_nordiccrimeThe Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime Fiction focuses on contemporary authors writing since 1967 and employs a basic organizational scheme.  Each of the five Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden has their own section starting with an introduction.  Ms. Brunsdale uses the introduction to provide a “historical-cultural context” as well as to showcase the main issues that have confronted each society and how crime fiction has reflected them.  This introduction is followed by annual lists of award winning fiction and a parallel chronology of developments in the literature and corresponding world events.  Each section is then divided into author entries arranged alphabetically consisting of an essay describing the author’s contribution to the genre followed by a list of his/her novels.  Both famous and obscure authors are discussed with many, but not all, having been translated into English.

Obviously, the essays discussing each author are key components of this reference.  They provide basic biographical information as well as a discussion of the author’s more influential works.  Entries end with a list of the author’s novels, awards, and an author Website address if available.  Unfortunately, the entries are not followed by bibliographies.  However, there is a work cited section at the end of the book divided by country that helps compensate and which will be of value to those seeking to do further research.  Providing additional scholarly value are the introductions beginning each section.  They are comprehensive essays that fulfill Ms. Brunsdale’s intent of providing historical-cultural context with thorough discussions of how the genre interacts with and mirrors that context.

As noted earlier, the Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime Fiction will appeal to both libraries and to individual fans of the genre.  Admittedly, this is a scholarly treatment of the topic that will primarily be of interest to academic libraries.  However, given the popularity of Nordic crime fiction, a number of public libraries will also be interested.  It is appropriate for either reference or circulation collections and given the reasonable price may find its way into both.


Extra Servings

SAGE Reference has a few new titles planned:

  • The SAGE Encyclopedia of Marriage, Family, and Couples Counseling (Oct., 2016, 9781483369556, $650) is a four-volume reference. It is edited by Jon Carlson and Shannon B. Dermer and is intended for “researchers seeking to broaden their knowledge of this vast and diffuse field…, this Encyclopedia provides readers with a fully comprehensive and accessible reference to aid in understanding the full scope and diversity of theories, approaches and techniques and how they address various life events within the unique dynamics of families, couples and related interpersonal relationships…”
  • The SAGE Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspectives (Oct., 2016, 9781483359892, $650) also comes in at four volumes. Edited by Paul Joseph this work looks at war “through the lens of history and military science, focusing on big events, big battles, and big generals.  By contrast, The SAGE Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspective views war through the lens of the social sciences, looking at the causes, processes and effects of war and drawing from a vast group of fields such as communication and mass media, economics, political science and law, psychology and sociology…”
  • The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Travel and Tourism ( June, 2017, 9781483368948, $650) is another four-volume set. It is edited by Linda L. Lowry and “in over 600 entries …examines the business of tourism around the world paying particular attention to the social, economic, environmental, and policy issues at play.  The book examines global, regional, national, and local issues including transportation, infrastructure, the environment, and business promotion…”

CQ Press has some upcoming and recently released titles:

  • Edited by Heather L. Kerrigan Historic Documents of 2015 (July, 2016, 9781506333519, $215), like the other annuals in this series, covers “60 to 70 events with well over 100 documents from the previous year, from official reports and surveys to speeches from leaders and opinion makers, to court cases, legislation, testimony, …”
  • CQ Almanac 2015 (Sept., 2016, 9781506333175, $575) is the latest version of the well-respected annual “that chronicles and analyzes the major bills brought before Congress in the previous year. Published each summer, this non-partisan reference work offers exclusive insight into the forces that drove action on legislation…”

Salem Press has added a couple of new titles:

  • The Critical Survey of Young Adult Literature (April, 2016, 978-1-61925-971-3, $185; eBook: 9781619259720, $185) discusses “representative young adult works that form today’s canon for academic coursework and library collection development, with over 300 essays of … analysis. This collection includes classic young adult titles like The Outsiders, popular series like Divergent, plus a variety of significant themes, film adaptations, and other sections important to the popular young adult category…”
  • Great Lives from History: American Women (May 2016, 978-1-61925-944-7, $395; eBook, 9781619259454, $395) is a three-volume set that is a “new addition to the Great Lives from History series that features over 700 essays on women from the seventeenth through the early twenty-first centuries. Many individuals included in this multi-volume set have never been covered in this series before, notable for their work in such fields as politics, civil rights, literature, education, journalism, science, business, and sports…”

ABC-CLIO Greenwood also has a couple of new titles:

  • The Spanish Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia (July, 2016, 978-1-61069-421-6, $198; eBook, 978-1-61069-422-3, for pricing email <custserv@abc-clio.com>) is a two-volume set edited by by H. Micheal Tarver and Emily Slape.  It “includes some 180 entries that cover such topics as the caste system, dynastic rivalries, economics, major political events and players, and wars of independence.  The entries provide students with essential information about the people, things, institutions, places, and events central to the history of the empire…”
  • The Encyclopedia of Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups around the World (Aug., 2016, 978-1-61069-953-2, $100; eBook, 978-1-61069-954-9, for pricing email <custserv@abc-clio.com>) is in its 2nd Edition. Authored by James B. Minahan, this book “provides an extensive update to Greenwood’s Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups around the World that was published more than a decade earlier.  Each ethnic group receives an alphabetically organized entry containing information such as alternate names, population figures, flag or flags, geography, history, culture, and languages…”

MacMillan Reference is publishing a new series of handbooks:

  • Religion: Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks (Dec., 2016, 9780028663494, $1700; eBook, 9780028663562, pricing available to registered website users) “is composed of ten volumes (available individually) that serve undergraduate college students who have had little or no exposure to the study of religion, as well as the curious lay reader. Beginning with a primer volume, which introduces both the discipline and the topics of the remaining nine volumes, each handbook will usher the reader into a subfield of the study of religion, and explore fifteen to thirty topics in that subfield…”

Gale has published an update of a popular title:

  • The Gale Encyclopedia of Children’s Health: Infancy Through Adolescence, (March, 2016, 9781410332752, $950; eBook, 9781410332745, pricing available to registered website users) is now in its 3rd Edition. This latest version “is a completely updated edition that contains over 65 new entries with a total of 840 entries.  The four-volume set provides in-depth coverage of pediatric diseases and disorders, along with issues related to physical and cognitive/behavioral development.  It is an appropriate resource for parents, teachers, and allied health students…”


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