|Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship||Fall 1998|
In its third edition, this work is part of the Libraries Unlimited Library and Information Science Text Series, which includes many well-known library school textbooks. The author is Professor & Director of the School of Information Resources & Library Science at the University of Arizona. He also co-wrote with Richard Walker Scientific and Technical Literature : An Introduction to Forms of Communication, ALA, 1990.
This book is a compilation of selected international sources (abstracts & indexes, encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, handbooks, bibliographies, and Web sites) in 21 subject areas. The overall organization is well defined, with sources organized by subject area, then by type of source. Titles are then listed alphabetically within these sub-sections.
Each subject area begins with useful introductory information that provides historical background as well as current trends for that field of literature. Over 1500 sources are listed, with a few duplicated in several sections. Almost every source listed includes a short descriptive and sometimes evaluative annotation. Most annotations are worthwhile, although some could use updating or more complete information. Prices, too, would have been a nice addition. The author, title, and subject indexes are quite thorough.
A major change from previous editions, most of the sources listed are from the 1990s, although older classics or historical works have been retained. This edition has the same general organizational format as previous editions; the second edition included "Electronic Sources" for some subject areas; the current edition includes "Web Sites" for every subject area.
The weakest part of the book are the selections listed in the "Web Sites" sections. Although inclusion of Web sites is a good idea, for some subject areas the coverage is paltry and seems to include an eclectic selection of web sites. Some are merely society home pages, others are directories or data banks, yet others are virtual libraries or collections of links. As this is a new feature of this edition, perhaps this could be further developed in future editions. Web sites themselves may need to be further divided by type of source as more information will be available electronically in the future.
Some omissions are surprising (e.g., Current Contents is included, but not UnCover). The relationships between print indexes and electronic versions could be more clearly explained in some places (e.g., Government Reports Announcements and Index is available electronically as the NTIS database). Also, there are a number of vendors other than Dialog through which many of the databases are now available (no mention of STN International).
In the author's words, the work is "intended to be a manageable entrée to a wide and varied literature", and indeed it is. This work is solid, balanced, and valuable for information specialists working in or students learning about bibliographic tools in science and technology. Readers may also be familiar with the work by H. Robert Malinowsky, Reference Sources in Science, Engineering, Medicine, and Agriculture, which is similar in scope and size, and which Hunt himself states is "useful as a counterpoint and as a different approach to the area".