Reference News from the Show | ALA Midwinter 2013

As usual, ALA was a whirlwind of panels, book buzzes, parties, and my favorite—meeting librarians in the inevitable lines for food and bathrooms (will the conference centers ever figure this out?). The best fun was at the AAP Library Family Feud, where librarians took on authors about such burning questions as what 100 librarians said they bring to the beach (better luck next time, librarians).

The big news in reference was that the Dictionary of American Regional English, edited by Frederick Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall and published by Belknap/Harvard Univ. Press, won the Dartmouth Medal. The Dartmouth is RUSA’s (ALA’s reference and user services division) top honor, but as part of it’s user-services beat, RUSA also recognizes many other works; see the entire list at Wyatt’s World.

Reference publishers had many new products and announcements at the show, which ranged from the unveiling of massive efforts that took years to produce, down to innovative marketing efforts surrounding existing materials. Here are some highlights.

  • Mango Languages (named “Best for Library Outreach” in our 2012 Best Databases librarian poll) provided some fun with a St. Valentine’s Day offer—free mini courses that will teach patrons to flirt in Spanish, Italian, French, and Brazilian Portuguese. On a more serious note, the company also offers free courses in Spanish for librarians.
  • Merriam-Webster unveiled the latest edition of its Merriam-Webster Unabridged, a Britannica database that includes 700,000 definitions, 4,000 of them new.
  • ABC-CLIO announced a new database, Modern Genocide: Understanding Causes and Consequences, which covers 10 genocides, offering primary sources and commentary that’s structured in the same way for each event, allowing easy comparisons.
  • Springer Archives has been released; the database by the STEM publisher includes 100,000 digitized books and 2 million journal articles from the past 170-plus years and is available on the existing SpringerLink platform.
  • Credo announced that its Literati information literacy service—the public library version of which won a 2013 Software & Information Industry Association CODiE Award for Best General Reference Service—is now available in two new versions: Literati School (for the K-12 market) and Literati Student Athlete.
  • Rosen Digital showed its new Digital Literacy database; it complements the company’s Financial Literacy and Teen Health & Wellness products to create what Rosen calls its “Real Life Toolkit.”
  • Gale Cengage Learning’s National Geographic Virtual Library now includes a People, Animals, and the World resource that offers sections on animals, the environment, history, people and cultures, science and technology, and travel. Photographs will be a draw to this resource, but it also includes many useful research features, such as deep indexing that was built using National Geographic’s vast collection of index cards, and other features that will be familiar to users of the company’s Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
  • Recently reviewed in School Library Journal, Britannica’s new database, Britannica School, is an updated version of the product previously called Britannica School Edition, offering Common Core-friendly material for the K-12 set.
  • Recently ProQuest restarted publication, in print and as a database, of Statistical Abstract, a resource discontinued by the Census Bureau last year. In similar news, the company is now producing ProQuest Congressional, which for years was a staple of reference on U.S. Congressional activity and output.
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.