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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Spring 2006

Book Reviews

Glossary of Biotechnology and Nanobiotechnology Terms

Eleanor Randall
Baron-Forness Library
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Edinboro, Pennsylvania 16444

Glossary of Biotechnology and Nanobiotechnology Terms, Fourth Edition, Kimball R. Nill ISBN 0-8493-6609-7 Taylor and Francis Books, CRC Press, November 2005, 402 pages. Hardcover $89.95.

Modern biotechnology and nanobiotechnology have emerged from the confines of the research laboratory to find their place in numerous applications that affect the global human community. It is essential that the associated terminology be available and in a form that not only defines, but clarifies meaning through examples and related terms. Kimball Nill's The Glossary of Biotechnology and Nanobiotechnoloy Terms, fourth edition, occupies a niche in biotechnology information publishing which fulfills these requirements.

Initially, The Glossary... was a response to an in-house need for information to facilitate communication between researchers and other professionals such as marketers, lawyers and public relations personnel. I agree with the publisher's statement that it is intended for "anyone working directly or indirectly with those pioneering the frontiers of modern biology." This book would be essential for the industry worker and the advanced student in one of the many biotechnology fields. Clearly, these individuals, by association, would be exposed to a number of recurring biological and chemical discussions.

Despite my initial review of the terms, the elaborations, and the examples, I found that the reference described as "designed for people with little or no training in the biological and chemical science" is misleading. Very few individuals without considerable interest and/or experience in biotechnology would understand the "definitions based on analogy, with the inherent possibility of over-simplification."

However, the interest generated in the general public by newspapers and popular magazines and the determination of many to understand what is going on and how it may affect their future and the future of humanity, drives the need for explanations. A Google search quickly displays pages involving the general public/ non-science educated person. The national Nanotechnology Initiative provides resources for students K-12! The question is, are there other sources which would be adequate for this defined readership? The fact is that some of these individuals would benefit from the analogies provided, but they are not the main audience for this book.

I was unable to find a current, comparably inclusive glossary/ dictionary with which to make a comparison. The Facts on file Dictionary of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (2001), has a narrow focus and is out of date. The 2005 Choice Outstanding Academic title was Academic Scientific Publishers Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. ( While current, it does not have the same function as The Glossary...

Students in science and engineering would appreciate the features which make The Glossary of Biotechnology and Nanobiotechnology Terms a true glossary. The "see also references" are extensive and add to the ease of understanding the meaning and the context in which they are applied. The all caps format of the see also references is distracting in that it gave the appearance of a larger font than the main entries. These extensive cross-references would be ideal in an online format. I was surprised when an early version ( (2001) did appear as a result of a Google search.

Mr. Nills' credentials and experiences are reflected in The Glossary... Currently, he is the Technical Issues Director of the American Soybean Associations' International Marketing Division. Many of the analogies and examples presented are agriculturally based. In this 4th edition, Mr. Kimball added "nanotech" terms that are relevant to biotechnology.

As I began this review, I needed a clearer definition of nanobiotechnology and its relationship with bionanotechnology. Interestingly, the title term nanobiotechnology was not included in The Glossary and, in the preface, one finds the term bionanotechnology used. I recommend the Glossary of Biotechnology and Nanobiotechnology Terms, 4th ed. for mainly academic library collection, at least with upper division students, as a solid attempt to keep current on the terminology which is evolving so rapidly.

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