LISS’s Unrivaled Content; ReferenceUSA, a Vital Tool for Job Seekers | Reference ereviews

Library and Information Science Source EBSCO Publishing;

By Cheryl LaGuardia


Content Library and Information Science Source (LISS) contains the merged content of four EBSCO and H.W. Wilson databases (Library Literature & Information Science Retrospective; Library Literature & Information Science Index; Library Literature & Information Science Full Text; and Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text) as well as 50 additional full-text journals not previously available in any database.

The resource offers full text for more than 440 English- and foreign-language journals (a full coverage list is available at ­ as well as conference proceedings, pamphlets, library school theses, research reports, and 30 full-text monographs. LISS maintains profiles of 5,000 of the most frequently indexed authors; profiles include subject terms frequently applied to their articles and in which titles they’ve published. The content is complemented by a 10,800-term thesaurus, and coverage dates back to 1900.

Usability LISS uses the excellent, ubiquitous EBSCOhost interface, about which I don’t think I need to tell you anything more: Is there any library without an ­EBSCOhost product? I began to explore LISS with a basic search for author Barbara Fister (I am a thoroughgoing fan of her work), which found 65 results. For comparison I did the same search in Academic Search Premier (ASP), and got 55 results. Returning to LISS, I limited my search to “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals,” and got a result of 25. That same limit in ASP found 14 items, so it looks to me like LISS picked up a number of scholarly articles not included in ASP.

Next I clicked the “Author Profiles” button in the top toolbar and went into a browsable, alphabetical list of names. I could either scan through the list or type the last name into a basic search box; I typed Fister and up popped Barbara’s name. Clicking on it produced a page listing her degrees, detailed contact information, the many journals in which she has published, subject headings identifying her diverse interests, and names associated with hers in print.

I also tried a basic search of LISS for library marketing and got 2,017 results. Most of the older ones were about “business and marketing libraries,” rather than how to go about marketing your services. The first occurrence that looked relevant appeared in the Library Association Record in October 1973, which shows how recent the concept of actually marketing your library, its wares, and services really is. The same search in ASP found 760 results, the earliest of them from 1979.

Trying a subject search of LISS for the subject participatory design, I found nothing. The same search in ASP unearthed 36 items (“Participatory Design” is a subject heading there), but when I tried to combine it with the search term “libraries,” I was again disappointed. An LISS basic search for “participatory design” showed 289 items, but these were for IT design. Adding the word space to that search retrieved 11 items, nine of which were relevant. I also searched LISS for what I thought would be a related ­­­subject—­user-centered design—but the hits were again about IT systems. Adding the word space to that search brought up mostly the same items from the “participatory design” and “space” search tried previously. It would be helpful to users if ­EBSCOhost added “Participatory Design” to the list of LISS subject headings.

Trying another hot topic, a basic query of the database for articles on assessment showed 12,710 results, but they weren’t what I was seeking—articles about library assessment. For example, the second item from the list was the article “Performance of Program Modification Techniques that Ensure Serializable Executions with Snapshot Isolation DBMS.” The subject headings for it were “Database Management; Coding Theory; SQL (Computer Program Language); Computer Software—Execution; Oracle Software; Performance Evaluation,” meaning that it wasn’t relevant. Trying again, using assessment as a subject, resulted in the message, “Your initial search query did not yield any results. However, using SmartText Searching, results were found based on your keywords,” with 78 items with the subjects, “Behavioral assessment of teenagers,” “Health risk assessment,” etc. One result, “Ciclo de avaluación del Área de Administración de Colecciones de la Biblioteca Águedo Mojica Marrero de la Universidad de Puerto Rico en Humacao: una acción necesaria,” a 2012 article from the journal Simbiosis, was the kind of item for which I was looking, but again it would be helpful for “assessment” to be a subject heading.

Truly to test the content here, I looked for one of the more elusive library factoids I’ve come across in 30-plus years of librarianship: a group I’d heard of called, I thought, the Melvil Dewey Marching and Chowder Society. My search of LISS for “marching chowder society” brought back the “Your initial search query did not yield any results…” message, but the Smart-Text Searching system located four items mentioning the “Melvil Dui chowder & marching association.” Using the form of his name that Dewey, a proponent of spelling reform, preferred, I found this mention in the May 1964 issue of College and Research Libraries: “…the Melvil Dui Chowder and Marching Association…includes men librarians who meet informally four times a year for dinner and discussion.” Following through LISS links I found a reference that the group “faced its final meeting” in 1989. (I’d love to hear from readers whether the group really disbanded.)

Pricing The price for LISS ranges from $1,969 to $15,278 for individual institutions (it is subject to change based on royalty requirements). Pricing for academic institutions is based on FTE, existing EBSCO databases, and membership in consortial agreements and/or buying groups. EBSCO does not charge for journals that a customer already has access to in another database.

Verdict This content is unrivaled; in addition to publications going back to 1900 (quite a lot of them and very absorbing), there’s loads of current material from around the world: I came across items in Croatian, Danish, French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. You will find material here that you’ll find nowhere else.

This database is essential for libraries serving library and information science students and is a desirable acquisition for large public and university libraries, too, especially for those that can negotiate a price closer to the beginning of the range listed above rather than the high end.

Cheryl LaGuardia is a Research Librarian for the Widener Library at Harvard University and author of Becoming a Library Teacher (Neal-Schuman, 2000). Readers can contact her at

ReferenceUSA ReferenceUSA:



By Bonnie J.M. Swoger


Content ReferenceUSA is a comprehensive resource for business and consumer information aimed at small businesses and job seekers in the United States and Canada. The portal offers access to several databases that help entrepreneurs research competitors, develop marketing strategies, and find employees. New additions to the platform assist users with find job listings and historical business information.

Four ReferenceUSA databases—U.S. Businesses, U.S. New Businesses, U.S. Historical Business, and Canadian Businesses—include business listings; unfortunately, the distinctions among the various resources are not always clear. Local businesses, franchises, and private and public business are all ­included.

All four databases feature basic information about each company: names, addresses, websites, phone numbers, and owner names. The U.S. Businesses and Canadian Businesses databases include stock information (if applicable), NAICS and SIC codes, business expenditures, sales data, and number of employees. I was able to look up information on some of my favorite local restaurants, learning about their annual sales, what job openings they had and that the SIC code for doughnuts is 5461-05. A list of local competitors (based on NAICS and SIC codes as well as location) is also available for some businesses.

The U.S. Historical Business database includes sales and numbers of employees over the last ten years. New ventures are included in the basic business search, but the ­separate database helps users keep track of fresh competition in their local areas. It would be useful to see the new and historical business information incorporated into the general database, as searchers who simply look into the U.S. Businesses database might not realize that data is available for the past ten years.

The platform also provides access to a variety of consumer information. White pages are available for the United States and Canada, including names, phone numbers, and addresses in association with basic neighborhood data such as average home values and the percentage of owner-occupied housing. A separate area helps users locate new residents by identifying recent movers within the past year. The U.S. New Movers/Homeowners database provides names, addresses, phone numbers, and ownership status (own/rent) for new residents in a community.

More detailed consumer information is available via the U.S. Consumers/Lifestyles database. This search can highlight the interests of particular individuals related to shopping, cooking, health, recreation, pets, personal finance, politics, technology, and other topics. Coverage is sporadic—many people have no listed interests. Individuals who find this level of personal information intrusive can request to have their information removed.

Each database includes specific data analysis tools (maps, charts, and summary data), and patrons can download up to 100 records per search. This relatively low number will push users toward creating targeted searches, rather than casting a broad net.

Job listings are provided by, the same source used by other business databases covered by this column in the past such as AtoZDatabases and ­CareerTransitions.

Usability The search interfaces provided for the databases included in ReferenceUSA are each a little different, depending on the topic. Each includes “Quick Search” and “Custom Search” options. The “Quick Search” pages are easy to use, and the “Custom Search” page generally provides advanced filters without overwhelming ­researchers.

For business data, users can enter a company name, a city, and a state. The new business search allows users to adjust the time frame (e.g., the last six months, the last year, etc.), and the historical business database allows them to select a time period. The “Custom Search” allows queries against any of the data included in the record, including industry codes, number of employees, or distance from a particular address. I was surprised to find more than 520 restaurants within five miles of my house, 34 of which had email addresses listed.

Results are listed in alphabetical order, and users can click on a business name to see additional information. The ­ReferenceUSA platform really shines in its mapping, charting, and summary tools. Heat maps (printable and downloadable) help users to visualize business districts based on their search. Charts compare various factors and visualize market share for individual businesses. Maps and charts are exportable or downloadable, within certain limits.

Consumer information can be searched by name and location. The “Custom Search” allows the selection of particular income levels, property values, or lifestyle interests. Charting and summary tools let patrons compare demographic factors. For example, I was able to generate easily a pie chart showing income and property value distributions in my town.

For job seekers, the “Quick search” allows mining of the data by keywords and location. Users can type in a city and state or a zip code to narrow the geographic region of the search. Alternatively, it’s possible to simply select an area on a map. I was excited to use the map feature but disappointed with the result. In essence, the map merely acts as a replacement for the city and state function, helping users select a single city, zip code, or state for their search. I expected to be able to select a box or polygon on the map in order to narrow the search to a more specific area.

After a search, the results list is sorted by the date of the job posting and displays job titles, companies, cities, and posting dates. Users also have the option of emailing ­select records. Just like other databases that are backed by the job listings, this one redirects to the website after the job seeker clicks on a position.

Pricing Annual subscriptions start at $2,000 and increase based on population served and the modules provided. Existing customers who wish to add the new historical data module will pay an additional 20 percent of their subscription price for the business database. For example, libraries that pay $10,000 for the ReferenceUSA business database will be charged an extra $2,000 for access to historical data.

verdict ReferenceUSA is one of several tools for libraries that assist small business, entrepreneurs, and job seekers. As the public library becomes an increasingly important resource for economic growth, such tools will become increasingly vital. The platform will be most useful in public libraries, especially in communities that encourage small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Bonnie J.M. Swoger is the Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and the author of the Undergraduate Science Librarian blog, Readers can contact her at

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