Reference News from ALA Midwinter

Talk at this year’s ALA Midwinter Meeting was of how dead it seemed, but, as usual, anecdata falls short of the real story. A total of 9,929 attendees (6,236 regular attendees and 3,693 exhibitor staff) converged in Dallas, a decrease of only 181 people from last Midwinter in San Diego. The mood was much lighter than in recent years, and we were busier than ever, too. Below are a few reference highlights.

A-Zdatabases When she reviewed this database of businesses and individuals in August 2011 (, LJ reviewer Cheryl LaGuardia recommended several changes and A-Z listened. The database the company revealed at Midwinter has been substantially revamped. The search function is more intuitive and now allows queries that include nicknames; business listings now name up to 100 executives; and the records in general are more complete.

Most exciting, though, is the company’s new app, which allows iPad users to automatically link to subscribing libraries within a 20-mile radius and access all of the information found in the regular database. Libraries conscious of the app’s potential to attract new patrons will appreciate that it can be customized so that remote users will become aware of the library. A-Z also offers a welcome and unusual Release Notes feature documenting what has been changed and when.

Better World Books Since 2002, this pioneering online bookstore with a soul has collected and sold used books, including library discards, with part of the proceeds going to affiliates such as Books for Africa, Room to Read, Worldfund, the National Center for Family Literacy, and Invisible Children. Now, working with the company can more directly help your library, too. Skirting the problem of many municipalities not allowing libraries to hold sales, now, when Better World Books sells your weeded titles, a portion of the proceeds becomes Ingram credit, with other funds still going to help worldwide literacy initiatives.

Cengage Learning The aesthetics and research value alone of Cengage Learning’s upcoming Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO) are enough to wow librarians and patrons, who will relish the digitized copies of rare materials from sources such as the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the previously private Corvey Collection of European Literature, 1790‚ 1840. The technical details of the database are also noteworthy‚ since this resource covers relatively recent material that is often in good physical quality, it was possible for Cengage to perform optical character recognition scanning on the handwritten materials, meaning that the full text is completely indexed.

The first four archives, available this spring, will cover British politics and unrest, diplomatic exchanges between the United States and Asia and Europe, British theater and the arts, and romantic literature, with more collections to come over several years. The company has also created the free, complementary NCCO Museum app. This doesn’t provide access to the database; rather, it offers limited content and keeps scholars up-to-date on enhancements and research tips. A review of NCCO is forthcoming in LJ 4/15/12.

CodeYear Savvy librarians found time to attend a CodeYear meetup, where they exchanged tips on how to follow the free program that promises to have us coding effortlessly by next year.

Carli Spina of Harvard Law School Library organized the meeting at the convention’s Uncommons, and it was well attended, according to Andromeda Yelton, a founder of GlueJar (, an ebook-creation project unveiled at Midwinter. At the meetup, Yelton circulated a petition to create an interest group that will help librarians to learn code and find ways to apply it. The joint LITA/ALCTS group was later approved, with leadership from Yelton and Spina (LITA); Shana McDanold (who, along with the other leaders, is affiliated with the catcode wiki at; and Jen Young (ALCTS).

Credo Credo Reference was nominated best overall resource in LJ’s Best Databases survey this past fall (, but the company isn’t resting on its laurels. It has just released Literati by Credo, something a little different for the company and for the market. Literati is best described as an information-literacy wrapper for your library’s website (libraries can even use it as their website). It offers ways to introduce and promote the library and its various subscriptions and services. It includes, for example, video tutorials and database annotations‚ these options are flexible, as the interface has slots that a library can fill to match patrons’ needs. See the forthcoming review of Literati, accompanied by an interview with some of Credo’s library school interns who helped develop the resource, in LJ 5/15/12.

Ebrary The newest product from this company that was previously known as an ebook host is an app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The tool allows mobile use of ebrary’s content as well as of documents uploaded from other sources and can be accessed using a Facebook login.

Ebrary also announced that its titles are now available through Baker and Taylor’s Title Source 3 and released its 2011 Global Student E-Book Survey, in which Professor Allen McKiel of Western Oregon University examines the attitudes toward and usage of ebooks as reported by more than 3600 students worldwide and compares them to a 2008 study. For the full results, which include a social media component, see

EBSCO Good news for libraries serving literature students: in late summer, EBSCO will release its Poetry and Short Stories database, which stands out from available products as it includes pieces of literature as well as related criticism (as opposed to criticism only) and offers video. The material, which is available through EBSCOhost, is suitable for public libraries and schools through the undergraduate level. Throughout 2012, the company will roll out Source databases‚ Library and Information Science Source, for example‚ which combine EBSCO’s offerings with those of recently acquired H.W. Wilson.

RUSA awards Some highlights of what LJ reviewer Barbara Bibel dubbed the Oscars of reference were the impressive showings by Oxford University Press, which won the Dartmouth Medal for Green’s Dictionary of Slang; and SAGE, which garnered mentions for its International Encyclopedia of Political Science, among other titles. The big surprise, however, was a Lifetime Achievement Award for the sadly defunct Statistical Abstract of the United States. See further LJ coverage of the event at Thornton-Verma

Henrietta Verma About Henrietta Verma

Henrietta Verma is Senior Editorial Communications Specialist at NISO, the National Information Standards Organization, Baltimore, and was formerly the reviews editor at Library Journal.