From the Reference Desk

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

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Contemporary Early Childhood Education (2016, 9781483340357, $525) is another in SAGE Publications’ collection of specialized education reference works.  Edited by Donna Couchenour and J. Kent Chrisman, this Encyclopedia is a three-volume set that explores key issues related to childhood education from birth through eight years of age, or third grade.

A look at the Reader’s Guide shows expansive coverage of major topics ranging from assessment to child care and from policy and advocacy to teaching and learning.  Articles also delve into subjects related to early intervention, curriculums, and issues related to child development like cognition, motor skills, language and literacy, and social-emotional development.  There are also entries that treat the family and social environments as well as those covering theories and models of practice and the impacts of professional associations.  In addition to the nearly 425 entries, the editors have also included ten “anchor” essays that are lengthier and involve discussions of essential concerns.  Entries are linked by “see also” references and each has a list of readings helpful for further exploration.  There is also an appendix that consists of an annotated list of other useful resources.  Providing additional access to specific information is a well-designed and useful general index.  Although the set is text rich, tables and charts are used when relevant and the layout employs effective use of bold font and bulleted lists to maintain visual interest.

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Contemporary Early Childhood Education will be a welcome entry on numerous education reference shelves.  It offers thorough and comprehensive coverage and is informed by the most recent scholarship.  The approach is multidisciplinary and draws from the theories and research of several related fields but maintains the focus on providing a useful resource for education students, practicing teachers, and other early childhood professionals.

This title is also available electronically on the SAGE Knowledge online platform.


The CQ Press Guide to Urban Politics and Policy in the United States (2016, 9781483350035, $185) is another recent addition to CQ Press’ respected reference guide series.  It attempts to provide a balanced approach to urban politics that includes elements from historical, political, economic and environmental perspectives as well as those that explore the specifics of policy, governing, and service delivery.

As one examines this single volume work it becomes apparent that editors Christine Kelleher Palus and Richardson Dilworth employ the thorough, informed, and fact-filled approach one has come to expect from such CQ Press guides.  The volume is divided into seven parts made up of 44 chapters that run the gamet from coverage of cities in the early republic to the role of racial and ethnic politics to promoting economic development to water and waste management.  In addition, there is coverage of specific issues like sanitation, zoning, public housing, mass transit, and annexation and consolidation.  Each chapter gives the reader a solid background as well as rich detail regarding the issues being discussed.  There are also numerous tables and figures that offer relevant, supplemental information as well as substantial and impressive bibliographies that provide real value in expanding one’s research efforts.  A full table of contents along with a complete listing of illustrations and a general index lend organization to the volume and provide access.

The CQ Press Guide to Urban Politics and Policy in the United States will undoubtedly take its place on the shelf among the other reference works in CQ Press’ series of standard political guides.  It is informed by the most recent scholarship as well as being well organized and reader friendly.  It is one of those works that deserves consideration for circulating collections as well.  Both academic libraries and larger public libraries where there is interest will want to consider it.


Principles of Astronomy (2016, 978-1-61925-948-5; e-ISBN: 978-1-61925-949-2 $165) joins the other titles in Salem Press’ Principles of Science series.  With its 140 entries, it strives to provide an understandable introduction to the fundamentals of astronomy for upper division high school students and undergraduates.

Those familiar with the Principles of Science series will immediately recognize the general format employed in this volume.  Each entry starts with a list of related fields of study followed by a summary of the topic including how the entry is organized.  After this comes definitions of principal terms and then a discussion of the topic’s relevant concepts followed by a list of further readings.  Explanatory illustrations, diagrams, star charts, and photographs are interspersed.  As one might expect, among the topics covered are stars, constellations and other celestial bodies like planets, asteroids, and comets.  However, there is also discussion of space exploration with essays on topics like deep space navigation, earth-imaging satellites, and space robotics.  In addition, there are articles on related scientific processes like crystal spectroscopy, interstellar chemistry, and particle acceleration.  Value added is provided by a series of appendices including Nobel notes, a glossary, a bibliography, a list of web resources, a timeline, and a list of famous figures and events.  A general index provides access to specific subjects.

Principles of Astronomy is another well-designed volume in a series that provides strong, basic coverage of key concepts in the primary sciences.  Those libraries that have found the other volumes in the series to be of value will want to add this title to their collections as well.  As is true with other Salem Press titles, free online access is available with a print purchase allowing the flexibility of placing print copy in circulating collections while relying on the online version for reference.

(The other titles making up the current Principles of Science series include: Principles of Chemistry (978-1-61925-501-2; e-ISBN: 978-1-61925-502-9); Principles of Physics (978-1-61925-946-; e-ISBN: 978-1-61925-947-8); and the Principles of Computer Science (978-1-68217-139-4; e-ISBN: 978-1-68217-140-0).  Principles of Biology and Principles of Physical Science are set to join the collection in 2017.)


Shakespeare and Visual Culture: A Dictionary (2017, 9781472568069, $165) is the latest entry in the Arden Shakespeare Dictionaries series from Bloomsbury Publishing.  Written by Armelle Sabatier who is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Paris II-Assas, this work is a single volume reference that attempts to assist readers in “re-assessing the key role played by visual culture in Shakespeare’s drama and poetry.”

Visual culture is interpreted broadly for the purposes of this reference.  It refers to more than paintings and statues.  It includes discussion of artistic methods and specific tools, not to mention individual colors and jewels as well as lesser studied objects like tapestries, hangings and chimney pieces.  Each entry is divided into three sections.  The first, section A, provides the general definitions and different meanings of the term as applied in Shakespeare’s time.  Section B discusses the way that Shakespeare uses the word, showing how it evolved within one play or showing examples of the term’s use from different plays.  Section C is akin to a brief bibliographic essay that mentions as many secondary and primary sources as is practical.  In addition, there is a cumulative bibliography and a useful general index.

The Shakespeare and Visual Culture: A Dictionary is a highly specialized reference work that will be welcomed by serious researchers ranging from undergraduate English Literature majors to advanced Shakespeare scholars.  The Dictionary is steeped in informed and up-to-date scholarship and is logically designed to provide the most relevant information in a straightforward, easy to access fashion.  It is another work that will be equally at home in reference and circulation collections.  And one suspects that many committed Shakespearean scholars will want personal copies.  It is also available as a PDF eBook (9781472568069, $145.99)


Extra Servings

Salem Press is adding some new titles to its list including:

  • Great Events from History: African American History (Dec. 2016, ISBN: 978-1-68217-152-3; e-ISBN: 978-1-68217-153-0, $295) is a three-volume set that “provides comprehensive coverage of the many events that define the framework of African American history, including social, cultural, and political movements, and the struggles to gain freedom, equality and civil rights. Just as the history of African Americans has been dominated by struggles for freedom and equal rights, articles in Great Events from History: African American History emphasize key events in the study of slavery, the abolitionist movement, civil rights, discrimination, voting rights, and Supreme Court decisions.”
  • Principles of Physical Science (Jan. 2017, ISBN: 978-1-68217-326-8; e-ISBN: 978-1-68217-327-5, $165) “provides high school and undergraduate researchers with a solid foundation to begin their study of physical science. The volume begins with a helpful introduction to the field, followed by over 100 detailed entries.  Entries range from 1-5 pages in length and include a detailed overview of the topic, written in clear, understandable language.  Entries also include key terms, related fields and are further supplemented with photos, illustrations, charts, models and diagrams…”

SAGE Publications will also release some new sets within the next few months:

  • The SAGE Encyclopedia of Out-of-School Learning (April 2017, ISBN: 9781483385211, $395) is a three-volume reference that “documents what the best research has revealed about out-of-school learning: what facilitates or hampers it, where it takes place most effectively, how we can encourage it to develop talents and strengthen communities, and why it matters…”
  • The SAGE Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods (April 2017, ISBN: 9781483381435, $695) is a “comprehensive A-to-Z reference work exploring methods specific to communication and media studies. Entries, authored by key figures in the field, focus on special considerations when applied specifically to communication research, accompanied by engaging examples from the literature of communication, journalism, and media studies.  Entries cover every step of the research process, from the creative development of research topics and questions to literature reviews, selection of best methods (whether quantitative, qualitative, or mixed) for analyzing research results and publishing research findings, whether in traditional media or via new media outlets…”

New titles from ABC-CLIO/Greenwood include:

  • Encyclopedia of African Colonial Conflicts (Nov. 2016, 978-1-59884-836-6, $189) “examines the wars of colonial conquest fought in Africa during the 19th and early 20th centuries. From Britain’s efforts to wrest control of the Sudan from military leader Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi, to Italy’s decisive defeat at the Battle of Adowa in Ethiopia, to Leopold II’s brutal reign over the Belgian Congo, the work surveys the devastation reaped upon the continent by colonization and illustrates how its combative influence continues to resonate in Africa today…”
  • Chronic Diseases: An Encyclopedia of Causes, Effects, and Treatments (Dec. 2016, 978-1-4408-0103-7, $189) is a “comprehensive two-volume work that provides an overview of an area of growing concern, offering readers a one-stop resource for researching the chronic conditions that increasingly plague our society…”
  • The World of Ancient Egypt: A Daily Life Encyclopedia (Nov. 2016, 978-1-61069-229-8, $198) is a two-volume set that “starting with the beginning of the First Dynasty to the death of Cleopatra, … explores the family life, politics, religion, and culture of the Nile Valley from Aswan to the Delta, as well as the peripheral areas of Nubia, the Oases, the Sinai, and the southern Levant. Each topical section opens with an introductory essay, followed by A-Z entries on such topics as food, fashion, housing, politics, and community.  The book features a timeline of events, an extensive bibliography of print and digital resources, and numerous photographs and illustrations throughout…”

Gale is publishing a few new annuals:

  • What Do I Read Next?: A Reader’s Guide to Current Genre Fiction, 2016 Edition (Dec. 2016, 9781410316844, $310) is an “advisory guide, published twice per year, that helps readers to independently choose titles of interest from those published in the last year. Arranged by author within eight genre sections, detailed entries provide publisher and publication date, names and descriptions of characters, review citations, a brief plot summary, listings of other books by the author as well as recommended similar books by other authors and much more…”
  • Business Rankings Annual: Cumulative Index, 2017 Edition (2017, 9781410318367, $118) “helps librarians answer reference questions related to rankings information. Working from a bibliographic file … built up over the years, we have culled thousands of items from periodicals, newspapers, financial services, directories, statistical annuals, and other printed material.  The “top 10” lists from each of these rankings are grouped under standard subject headings for easy browsing.  Readers can quickly locate all rankings in which a given company, person, or product appears by consulting the comprehensive index…”
  • Who’s Who in Art, 37th Edition (Dec. 2016, 9780953603930, $190) “contains biographies of over 3,800 contemporary artists exhibiting and/or represented in the United Kingdom and Ireland as well as leading personalities in British Contemporary Art. It is compiled from information personally provided by the individuals in the directory.  In addition, research for the title has been completed with the assistance of leading Academies, Societies, Artists’ Clubs, Galleries, Art Fairs and publishers of art books in the UK…”


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