Example of an entry from Credo Reference Who’s Who in America
This is the homepage of www.biography.com. This freely available online source provides biographical information and also includes information about its television programming.
Pictured above is the navigation bar for the Biography.com website. The entire site can be accessed from thetabbed menu located at the top of the screen. Just below this menu is a search bar that allows the user to search the entire website if their specific topic of interest is not listed.The list below shows the main categories that are exposed when a particular section is tabbed over. Many of these include second subcategories with more specific information. For instance: People -> In the News has a sub-category that names several people currently in the news. Today’s list showed Ed McMahon, Lucas Glover, and Billy Joel, to name a few.
Here is the second part of the list of Biography.com’s tabbed menu options. There is a wealth of information available mostly about celebrities and political figures past and present.The website also offers several options for visitors who would like regularly updated news related to biographical information. At the top-right of the page, users are given the option to receive e-mail updates, subscribe to an RSS feed, bookmark the page, or send it to a friend.
Biography.com also offers current news about public figures, but what I’m pointing out in this slide is the section I’ve surrounded with a red frame. It’s important information that (in my opinion) could be easily lost to someone navigating the site. I’ll expand on this in the next slide…
While the topics covered here may not be of interest to all users, most are important elements that require more than hard-to-read gray text.For instance, the section on how to cite is enormously helpful as it includes style guidelines for MLA, APA, Chicago Manual, Harvard, MHRA, CBE, Bluebook, and AMA citations. Also, it was only by navigating the site index that I found the community resources, including a special “Classrooms and Teachers” section. That section was geared mainly toward elementary and high school students and teachers and included special programming, biographies on historical figures, and study guides. This particular page would be an excellent page for school library media centers to use, but is fairly hidden.
While geared more toward selling its shows and videos, Biography.com is a reliable source for information on past and present celebrity figures. It is a member of the A&E television network, which states as its mission, “Everyday we grab people everywhere with our entertaining to take on life.” I’ve bolded what I feel is the most important word in that sentence. While I’d navigate to Biography.com to find a quick fact on someone, it’s main purpose is most assuredly to entertain its visitors.
This is the home page for Who2?, an online collection of biographical information which interestingly also includes biographies of fictional characters. If you never knew that Gilligan’s first name was actually Willy, you do now.Who2 offers fairly straightforward options for searching and browsing its database, keeping the page fairly uncluttered. Its RSS feed provides information on recently updated biographies as well as updates to the Who2 Editorial blog. Clicking on the “About Who2” link brings the user to a page with biographical information for the Editorial Board as well as the site’s mission and privacy statements.
Here’s a sample entry for Batman. The entries for fictional characters often include links to those who have voiced or acted as that character, as well as other people that might be of interest based on the search. Most biographies are short in length, and use links to other people, the Who2 blog, and pictures to provide more well-rounded search results.The “For Students” tab at the top of the navigation bar provides information on how to cite from this source, but biographical entries themselves do not include source lists. Information gathered here should probably be backed up by a reviewed source.
The Biography and Genealogy Master Index is available through the King Library’s database collection. The flowchart shows precisely how to navigate to the source.
This information is taken directly from the “About” section on the BGMI database and is what users can expect to find in their search results. BGMI is completely reloaded twice a year and each time, approximately 300,000 new citations are added. These include new titles as well as new editions of existing titles.A brief overview on how to interpret search results is included on the page and notes that names and dates are formatted exactly as they appear in the source from which they’ve been taken.Also found on the “About” page is more specific information on how names are listed, including rules for elements such as prefixes, compound names, pseudonyms, transliterations from non-Roman languages, and the use of initials.
A sample of the BGMI search page.
This is an example of the search results page. I searched for information on the famous 1970’s Steelers running back, Franco Harris.Clicking on the name brought up a list of the 53 citations for his name and specific information on how to access biographies from each of those sources.
I went through the list and picked out a few of the citations so you can get an idea of how they appear. Notice that some citations include optional information about earlier editions, locating the biography within the source, and whether or not pictures are included.
Biographical Reference SourcesLIBR 210-11July 11, 2009 By: Jennifer Barton Evelyn Bruneau Christina Certo
Biographies-What will be covered What are biographies- Evelyn Bruneau Types of biographies-Evelyn Bruneau Where to find biographical information-Evelyn Bruneau What are biographies used for-Evelyn Bruneau Evaluation of biographical sources-Jennifer Barton Spotlight on selective biographical sources-Evelyn Bruneau, Jennifer Barton, Christina Certo Conclusion-Jennifer Barton
What are Biographies? Nonfictional literature Written account of an individual’s life living and deceased Focus on: Individual Country Historical period Specialized group Eg. Artists or engineers
Types of Biographical Sources Direct Basic information (directories) Lengthy biographical essays (dictionaries) Ex. Who’s Who Indirect Biography and Genealogy Master Index Bibliographic citations Ex. Biography index Current Living persons Ex. Current Biography, Contemporary Authors Retrospective Deceased persons Ex. American National Biography, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Where to find Biographical Information (print, electronic, online) Biographical dictionaries Ex. Current Biography, Contemporary Authors Biographical directories Ex. Who’s who, American Men and Women of Science Encyclopaedias Yearbooks Obituaries Internet Ex. Biography.com. Who2, Internet Movie Database
What are Biographies used for? Students-assignments Introductions-functions Eulogies Book clubs (Contemporary Authors) Newspapers-to check credentials Librarians-to check authority of authors’ names Research organizations-to identify experts in certain fields
Scope Who is included in this work? What are the criteria for inclusion? Individuals with reference interest
Comprehensiveness Scope and comprehensiveness usually spelled out in the book’s preface Scope and criteria must be in harmony Look for even coverage within these areas—are a large number of eligible persons missing? If so, lacking in comprehensiveness
Accuracy Utmost importance Primary source (biographees) Secondary source (writers about the subject) Conflicting facts about a subject— Can look at each source’s reputation Can check more sources to try to determine the truth
Currency How up-to-date is the source? Constantly needing to update individual’s information in highly mobile society Electronic sources can be as out-of-date as print sources
References References for further reading Can be very valuable research material Researchers should look at several sources to get a comprehensive look at the available material
Format Presentation Organization Access points (electronic sources have an advantage over print sources here—time saver) Background Occupation Same honor or award Biography and Genealogy Master Index (BGMI) Interpretation of information
Retrospective Biographical Sources Oxford Dictionary of National Biography American National Biography
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Who is included: people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond, from Roman times to the present 56,949 biographies,10,500 illustrations Published in print and online in 2004 Extended with 3 annual updates (each January, May and October)
American National Biography Online edition has over 17,400 portraits of men and women “from all eras and walks of life—whose lives have shaped the nation.” Updated semi-annually Features thousands of illustrations, cross-linked references, links to websites and search capabilities Has Biography of the Day feature and Special Collections
What can we learn from Biography.com? While geared more toward selling its shows and videos, Biography.com is a reliable source for information on past and present celebrity figures. It is a member of the A&E television network, which states as its mission, “Everyday we grab people everywhere with our entertaining to take on life.” I’ve bolded what I feel is the most important word in that sentence. While I’d navigate to Biography.com to find a quick fact on someone, it’s main purpose is most assuredly to entertain its visitors.
Batman Biography Cartoon Character The superhero Batman was the brainchild of cartoonist Bob Kane. The character first appeared in Detective Comics in 1939, and was such a hit that Batman comics remained in print in one form or another into the 21st century. Batman is the "caped crusader," the crimefighting alter-ego of millionaire Bruce Wayne. Wayne inherited a fortune as a boy after his parents were killed by robbers; when Wayne grew up he dedicated himself to fighting crime and chose the guise of a bat in order to strike fear into the hearts of criminals. (Unlike Superman and Spider-Man, Batman is a human with no supernatural powers.) Batman lives in Gotham City and operates out of his secret crime laboratory, the Bat Cave. He battles exotic supervillains including the Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman and the Penguin, and is often aided by a sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder. Over the years Batman has appeared in many media and with various levels of seriousness. The 1960s live-action TV series was played for laughs, with a deadpan Adam West as Batman and nutty celebrity villains including ZsaZsa Gabor as Minerva and Roddy McDowall as the Bookworm. (The series also featured Yvonne Craig as Batgirl.) Two decades later Batman was reinvigorated by the 1986 publication of Frank Miller's gloomy, acerbic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. Miller's work inspired a darkly popular Batman feature film, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as the caped crusader and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. (Val Kilmer and George Clooney played Batman in sequels.) Batman: The Animated Series began a long run on TV in 1992, with Kevin Conroy as Batman and well-known voices like Mark Hamill as the Joker and Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman. The film series was revived in 2005 with Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale as Batman and Michael Caine as his faithful butler, Alfred. Another sequel, The Dark Knight, again starring Bale and with the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, was released in July 2008. Extra credit: Batman's first home, Detective Comics, later became better known as D.C. Comics.
Biographical dictionaries and who’s whos, which supply information on a number of individuals.
Subject encyclopedias, which include some biographical entries.
Volumes of literary criticism, which may contain only a limited amount of biographical information but give critical surveys of a writer's works.
Indexes, which refer the user to a body of information found elsewhere.
A sample search result using the credentials “harris, franco”…
Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 28: September, 2002-August, 2003. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 2003. [BioIn 28] Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives. 2008 edition. Volume 2: Directors and Executives. Charlottesville, VA:McGraw-Hill Cos., 2008. [St&PR 2008] The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Athletes. By Mike McGovern. New York: Facts on File, 2001. Use the Index to locate biographies. [EncTwCA] Biography contains portrait. Who's Who among Black Americans. Eighth edition, 1994/1995. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994. Later editions published as Who's Who among African Americans. [WhoBlA 8] A Who's Who of Sports Champions. Their stories and records. By Ralph Hickok. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1995. [WhoSpor]
Conclusion Biographical information is of great interest
Three types of research questions Ready-reference General background Research
Ready Reference Straightforward, factual info Example: the date Elizabeth I died Steps: get all information possible from inquirer Search a cross-referenced source such as BGMI as a starting point
General Background Curiosity about individual, seeking information about life and accomplishments Often modern authors and political leaders More information needed than ready reference Steps: good subject or specialized biographical source relevant to subject Example: patron interested in Michael Crichton’s life
Research Most in-depth type of inquiry Descriptive, interpretive, as well as primary and secondary sources Librarian can also refer inquirer to library’s catalog, a topical index, and/or specialized biography Example: college student needing to write a research paper on Barack Obama
References Bopp, R. E. & Smith, L.C. (2001). Reference and information services: an introduction. Third Ed. Englewood Colorado: Libraries Unlimited. Current biographical sources Who’s who in America Current biography Retrospective biographical sources American national biography Oxford dictionary of national biography Focused biographical sources Contemporary authors American men and women of science Freely Available Online Sources Biography.com http://www.biography.com Who2 http://www.who2.com/
Visit our project blog on “Stuck in the Stacks” at: http://stuckinthestacks.blogspot.com From there, you may navigate the entire presentation, read Evelyn’s Biography Info Guide, or learn more about our team and our LIBR-210 project.