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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Summer 2004

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Book Reviews

Chemistry Resources in the Electronic Age

Mary Ann Mahoney
Head, Chemistry Library
University of California, Berkeley

Chemistry Resources in the Electronic Age. Judith A. Bazler. Oryx Book, Greenwood Press Westport Connecticut, 2003. List price $49.95 ISBN 1-57356-379-X

Chemistry Resources in the Electronic Age is part of the series, Science Resources in the Electronic Age. Other books in the series include Biology Resources in the Electronic Age and Earth Science Resources in the Electronic Age. All three titles are authored by Judith A. Bazler, an Associate Professor of Science Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Monmouth University.

Chemistry Resources in the Electronic Age is divided into five chapters: The Basics; Resources in Chemistry; Supplies; Museums, Science Centers and Summer Programs; and Careers. The Basics is an introduction to the different kinds of information one can find on the Internet along with a good discussion of the development of the Internet and an introduction to web browsers for the novice user. Bazler also includes practical discussions on how to compose a search statement and how to evaluate web material as well as information about copyright and plagiarism. The chapter, Supplies, evaluates web sites that provide materials and resources that parents and students may wish to purchase, with an emphasis on chemistry supplies. Students, parents and even teachers would find this information useful, but unfortunately the chapter is very short with only twelve sites included in the chapter. The Museums, Science Centers, and Summer Programs chapter is also very interesting, but again, it is very short with only fourteen sites evaluated. The Careers chapter includes a varied selection of eleven sites, primarily directed to high school and college students interested in math, science and engineering careers.

The main part of the book is found in Chapter Two, Chemistry Resources. This chapter is divided into sections that comprise the many topics that would be studied in a chemistry curriculum from acids/bases to thermodynamics. For each topic covered, web sites are identified and described including an indication of the age-appropriateness of the site, from kindergarten through graduate school levels. Also included with each web site review is the most appropriate metasearch engine and the most useful keywords for finding similar web sites on the Internet.

The sites included in the Chemistry Resources chapter vary in quality and usefulness, and the placement of sites within sections can be confusing. For example, one site that college students use quite heavily to find physical property information is ChemFinder ({}). ChemFinder is reviewed under the section Solutions/Tutorials. Another example is the situation with the periodic table site, Chemical Elements ( The Chemical Elements site is reviewed once in the section Gas Laws and three times in the section Groups, but not at all in the Periodic Table section.

The tone, writing style and quality of the reviews in the Chemistry Resources chapter vary greatly. The reviews are too often descriptions of what happens when links are clicked rather than meaningful insights regarding the value and relevancy of the material to the chemistry curriculum. Occasionally a reviewer states that the site might not be the best, but it is the only one that the reviewer could find on the topic, or that the reviewer knows little about the topic covered by the web site. Another problem is that the same web site is often reviewed more than once in a section. For example, there are fifteen entries in the Solubility/Tutorials section, and of these fifteen entries, three web sites were reviewed twice, and one was reviewed three times. Each of the duplicate and triplicate entries had different reviews and recommendations for age appropriateness. The section, Carbohydrates, reviewed the article Carbohydrates in Nutrition from the Doctors' Medical Library web site ( five times, with five different reviews.

According to the author, Chemistry Resources in the Electronic Age is "designed as a one-stop source for cutting through the chaos of the Internet to find authoritative information on topics covered in the chemistry curriculum". This is quite an ambitious goal and perhaps quite understandably, the text falls short in the attainment of such a goal. The book does catalog a wide variety of sites that a teacher or parent would find interesting; however, the text's general lack of authoritative tone detracts from its usefulness. Consequently, I would recommend this book for school and public libraries, but not for libraries in an academic or research setting.

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