Reference Short Takes, February 1, 2012

BRB’s Guide to County Court Records: A National Resource to Criminal, Civil, and Probate Records Found at the Nation’s County, Parish, and Municipal Courts. Facts on Demand, dist. by National Bk. Network. 2011. c.880p. ed. by Michael Sankey. maps. ISBN 9781889150574. pap. $34.50. REF

Sankey (The MVR Book) has compiled a valuable reference to accessing court documents and public records held by 7000 nationwide courts. A prefatory user’s guide provides practical tips to effectively navigating local bureaucracies and idiosyncratic filing practices. The guide itself is divided into 51 segments, organized alphabetically by state and including the District of Columbia. Each opens with a map, vital state details, and a brief explanation of the court system. Segments are further divided alphabetically by county and include mailing address, extent of available records, relevant fees, and required notarized forms. A time and sanity saver that will be at home in public and law libraries.

Carpenter, Richard C. A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946. Vol. 4: Illinois, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan. Johns Hopkins. (Creating the North American Landscape). 2011. c.310p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781421401461. $70. REF

Adding to his previous volumes covering the mid-Atlantic; New England and New York; and Indiana, Lower Michigan, and Ohio, Carpenter expands his detailed survey of America’s post‚ World War II railway system with this examination of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan. The book is comprised largely of scrupulously rendered, hand-drawn railway maps that correlate with the U.S. Geological Survey’s topographical charts. Occasionally, margins have charming pen-and-ink sketches of stations, tracks, and coaling points, mimicking the look of a travelog. Multiple indexes permit easy location of viaducts, tunnels, and various station types. A marvelous reference for mid-20th-century transportation research and American history collections.

Haines, Arthur (text) & Elizabeth Farnsworth & Gordon Morrison (illus.). New England Wild Flower Society’s Flora Novae Angliae: A Manual for the Identification of Native and Naturalized Higher Vascular Plants of New England. Yale Univ. 2011. c.974p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300171549. $85. REF

Based on almost ten years of empirical field research by Haines (Ancestral Plants), this guide represents a comprehensive update to and revision of significantly outdated and inaccurate subject research. Nearly 3500 of New England’s wild, vascular plant species‚ both native and non-native‚ are described in six major chapters. Prefacing these are ten brief, multipage segments devoted to family-grouping explanations. Stunning, margin-bound scientific drawings by Farnsworth and Morrison beautifully clarify the written descriptions. Even with the helpful glossary, field-specific terms make this inaccessible for lay readers. Recommended for botanists and extremely knowledgeable enthusiasts.

HMO/PPO Directory 2012: Detailed Profiles of U.S. Managed Healthcare Organizations & Key Decision Makers. 24th ed. Grey House. 2011. c.577p. ed. by Laura Mars-Proietti. index. ISBN 9781592377619. $325. Online: Grey House GOLD database REF

Mars-Proietti (Nations of the World) has compiled an extensive guide to 1,183 health-care plans of seven kinds, including individual HMOs, PPOs, vision, dental, and Medicare. Profiles are organized by state and then alphabetized by provider name. Each incorporates provider contact information, services offered, coverage types, regions served, accreditation details, corporate officers, and average subscriber fees. Information is clear, consistently presented, and easily located, making the guide extremely user-friendly. Of particular note is the valuable, ten-page introductory health-care reform time line. A subscription database, updated more frequently than the print guide, is also available. A practical addition to public and medical library collections.

The Michigan Companion: A Guide to the Arts, Entertainment, Festivals, Food, Geography, Geology, Government, History, Holidays, Industry, Institutions, Media, People, Philanthropy, Religion, and Sports of the Great State of Michigan. Omnigraphics. 2012. c.847p. ed. by Arthur M. Woodford. illus. index. ISBN 9780979864841. $46. REF

Woodford (This Is Detroit, 1701‚ 2001) brings into a single volume a raft of interesting facts concerning, for example, Michigan’s natural resources, notable historical events, individual cities and counties, Native American tribes, geographical landmarks, major figures, successful companies and products, historical and contemporary sports teams, and educational institutions. He also addresses broader, more complicated issues such as racial and ethnic hostilities. Each running several paragraphs in length, entries are organized alphabetically by the name of the location, term, period, or place. An effortless, fact-filled read, this fun trivia book is recommended for state-focused collections, past and present inhabitants of the Wolverine State, and curious lay readers.

Screen World. Vol. 62: The Films of 2010. Applause: Hal Leonard. 2011. c.412p. ed. by Barry Monush. illus. index. ISBN 9781557837875. $49.99. REF

Monush’s annual survey consistently reminds readers that compelling films are produced outside Hollywood’s glittery epicenter. Of course, he doesn’t shun blockbusters and devotes significant coverage to Oscar-winning films like The Social Network and best-picture nominees like Black Swan. Indie and foreign films also enjoy the spotlight, each represented by a black-and-white still, plot synopsis, and listing of cast and crew. Additional segments profile promising new actors, top box office stars and films, and Academy Award notables, and provide obituaries. A worthwhile summary of 2010 productions for film studies collections.

Sharp, Jasper. Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema. Scarecrow. (Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts). 2011. c.524p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780810857957. $99. Online: NetLibrary, Overdrive, MyiLibrary, EBL, & Questia REF

Japanese film authority Sharp (Behind the Pink Curtain: The Complete History of Japanese Sex Cinema) opens this landmark reference with an extensive chronology, noting the political and economic events that facilitated the development and expansion of Japan’s film culture. The bulk of the book defines Japanese cinema’s principal studios, directors, actors, film techniques, historical periods, genres, and major films. Multiparagraph entries are alphabetized by the English-translated Japanese words, followed by both Hepburn Romanization and traditional kanji characters. A nearly 100-page, by-theme bibliography is a treasure trove of research leads. To date, the most comprehensive English guide; its depth and breadth make it vital for film-studies collections.

Thematic Catalogue of Troubadour and Trouvère Melody. 2d ed. Pendragon. (Thematic Catalogues, No. 18). 2011. c.740p. ed. by Donna Mayer-Martin & Dorothy Keyser. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780918728821. $120. REF

Understood to be the legacy of late Southern Methodist University music history professor Mayer-Martin, this landmark reference has been fully revised by Keyser (music history, Univ. of North Dakota) to correct first-edition oversights. Newly included is Mayer-Martin’s bibliographic outline for a planned but unrealized second volume, which would have explored troubadour and trouvère manuscripts. This song-focused volume organizes extant incipits, or melody openings, by interval. With organizational patterns and data that require specialized knowledge, this is a musicologist’s reference rather than a layperson’s primer. It remains the most comprehensive troubadour melody index available.‚ Savannah Schroll Guz, formerly with Smithsonian Libs., Washington, DC

About Savannah Schroll Guz

Savannah Schroll Guz, formerly with Smithsonian Libs., Washington, DC