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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Fall 2010
DOI: 10.5062/F4FT8HZ6

Book Reviews

The Medical Library Association Guide to Finding Out About Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The Best Print and Electronic Resources

Melissa L. Gold
Science Librarian
Millersville University
Millersville, Pennsylvania

Copyright 2010, Melissa L. Gold. Used with permission.

The Medical Library Association Guide to Finding Out about Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The Best Print and Electronic Resources. Gregory A. Crawford. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2010. 265 pp. ISBN 978-1555707279 $85.00

The purpose of this guide is to provide a representative selection of the "best and most reliable" resources about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This purpose is fulfilled through an annotated bibliography of 606 books, 160 web sites, and 221 periodicals that primarily focus on "non-western medicinal systems, natural healing techniques, manipulative techniques, and energetic healing therapies." As outlined in the book's introduction, the author argues for the necessity of this guide due to the rapid increase in use of CAM services and therapies in recent years. Based on this argument and the fact that any similar titles are at least ten years old, this guide does fulfill an important need.

The book is divided into 24 chapters focusing on different CAM topics, such as Iridology or Meditation. Topics span time, ranging from the most ancient herbal remedies to "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing" developed in 1987. Most chapters range from five to ten pages, though broad topics (like Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals, and Nutritional Supplements) may span over 20 pages. Chapters begin with general information, including the topic or therapy's history, use, and any necessary training for its practice. While the bulk of this publication is the bibliography, the one to two pages of background information on each topic are very useful as well. These descriptions are clear, often very interesting, and provide an excellent summary for a reader unfamiliar with CAM topics.

Extensive, annotated lists of recommended books, web sites, and periodicals follow the general information within each chapter. Annotations are thorough but brief, generally including the aim, content, and intended audience for each resource. Resources are listed alphabetically. While the guide includes only English resources with a bias toward the United States, the content is diverse, including resources on the practice, history, theory, and testing of the various CAM topics. Due to the number of resources per chapter, further subdivision or emphasis on top resources might have allowed readers to more efficiently choose appropriate resources. As the lists are now, they might prove overwhelming to a CAM novice, though they are very useful for a librarian who is doing collection development.

Though it is difficult to define the scope of complementary and alternative medicine, author Gregory A. Crawford succeeds in doing so in The Medical Library Association Guide to Finding Out About Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He is able to achieve this by drawing on his unique background as a librarian (Penn State Harrisburg Library Director), scholar (PhD in communication, information, and library studies from Rutgers), and practitioner of CAM (Doctor of Naturopathy degree from Trinity College of Natural Health). This book is recommended for any library with interest in CAM topics; however, it is most useful as a readers advisory or collection development tool, rather than as a reference book for the general public.

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