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Biographical Reference Sources


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Biographical Reference Sources

  1. 1. Biographical Reference Sources
  2. 2. What’s the name of this famous singer? Matt Dollar Elvis impersonator
  3. 3. USES AND CHARACTERISTICS <ul><li>Thomas Carlyle wrote, “the Life of the lowest mortal if faithfully recorded, would be interesting to the highest.” ( The Works of Thomas Carlyle, New York: Scribner, 1898-1901, 28:86.) </li></ul><ul><li>Biographies have always been in high demand. They are among the most common references requested in the library. </li></ul><ul><li>There are 2 categories of biographical sources- direct and indirect: </li></ul><ul><li>Direct sources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide biographical information itself. They are divided into 2 types of sources: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Biographical Directories – provide brief data about individuals </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Biographical Dictionaries – offer more detailed information often in essay form </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Indirect sources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Indexes which list citations of biographical information that refer the user to other sources of information. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sources can also be </li></ul><ul><ul><li>current (living persons) - retrospective (people from the past) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>narrow (a particular academic field) - broad (national and even international.) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. A student wants to do a paper on entrepreneurs…. <ul><li>A. G. Gaston </li></ul><ul><li>Construction </li></ul>Ben and Jerry Ice cream Coco Channel Fashion Ingvar Kamprad Ikea Anita Roddick Cosmetics Andrew Cherng Panda Express
  5. 5. EVALUATION <ul><li>Consider ease of use, accuracy of information and the comprehensiveness of the source. Look carefully at the following aspects of the work: </li></ul><ul><li>Scope </li></ul><ul><li>“ Who is included in this work?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ What are the criteria for inclusion?” </li></ul><ul><li>Usually individuals are chosen based on their “reference interest” which includes their title, achievements and their historical significance. </li></ul><ul><li>Vanity books – Beware! These are biographical directories published for profit sold to the biographees themselves. They do not have a defined scope, usually include anyone who sends in a questionnaire, and are not part of the holdings of a reference library. </li></ul><ul><li>Comprehensiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Generally the criteria for inclusion will be given in the prefatory pages of the work. </li></ul><ul><li>Do all individuals included hold comparable positions? </li></ul><ul><li>Do they have similar accomplishments? </li></ul><ul><li>Are there significant individuals who are left out? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the scope of the work in harmony with the criteria? (If the scope is broad then the criteria must be strictly applied to keep to a manageable number of entries. Likewise, if the scope is narrow, then the work should be comprehensive within its stated scope.) </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Extremely important! </li></ul><ul><li>Most current sources rely on the biographee for their information. Some may check secondary sources to verify information is accurate. </li></ul><ul><li>Retrospective works rely on secondary sources, or look at the writings of the biographee. </li></ul><ul><li>Sources should be free from bias. When faced with conflicting facts in reference works the librarian can </li></ul><ul><li>Choose between them based on nature and reputation of titles Consult other sources Present the patron with both facts and tell them why one may be more correct. </li></ul><ul><li>Check the reference for out-of-date information. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the frequency of publication – how often do they update? </li></ul><ul><li>Look closely at electronic versions – are they updated more often? </li></ul><ul><li>Generally, serial publications ( Contemporary Authors, Current Biography) are more current. </li></ul>Accuracy Currency
  7. 7. <ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><li>Check the references cited or suggested in the work. </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage researchers to look at several sources in order to have a comprehensive picture of the biographee. Are they reliable? </li></ul>Format <ul><li>Is the reference work well organized? </li></ul><ul><li>Are there adequate access points (indexes, cross-references) </li></ul><ul><li>In this area, electronic versions are clearly superior </li></ul><ul><ul><li>provide multiple access points and search tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>offer flexibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>allow user to print entries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>allow database search of multiple volumes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>save time </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Cost </li></ul><ul><li>Usually the key consideration in selection. </li></ul><ul><li>Smaller libraries can purchase the Who’s Who series which is more economical. </li></ul><ul><li>Almanac of Famous People is a good choice for tight budgets. </li></ul><ul><li>More expensive collections: </li></ul><ul><li>American National Biography </li></ul><ul><li>Biography and Genealogy Master Index </li></ul><ul><li>Uniqueness </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the overlap in entries when choosing biographical sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Rely on professional journals to help you make your choices. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Who was Abner Doubleday? ➊ He was stationed at Fort Sumter ➋ He served in the Mexican War ➌ He invented baseball ❹ All of the above!!
  10. 10. Selection <ul><li>More subjective than evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Based on the individual library and its users. </li></ul><ul><li>Users </li></ul><ul><li>User’s needs are most important when developing a collection. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the type of library </li></ul><ul><li>Academic- directories of professional colleagues </li></ul><ul><li>School – dictionaries for assignments </li></ul><ul><li>Special Library – well-known persons </li></ul><ul><li>Public-diverse needs </li></ul><ul><li>Current biographical sources are in demand in all libraries. </li></ul><ul><li>International biographical sources needed in school, academic and large public libraries. </li></ul><ul><li>Retrospective sources are required in school and academic libraries for research. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Russian folksinger and poet Who is Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava?
  12. 12. Which are the leading publishers of biographic information sources? <ul><li>A reference collection needs to contain authoritative information with viable sources. In the reference world, the publisher is another indicator of authority. Publishers specialize in certain areas of resource material. Overtime, they develop reputations in providing information. In the library, these vendors are a great indicator about the authority of a reference source. A reference librarian should question the authority of reference sources if they do not pertain to one of these. Some of the best include Biographical Sources, H.W. Wilson, Reed Elsevier (and its subsidiaries, Marquis Who’s Who and R.R. Bowker) and the Gale Group (and its subsidiary, St. James Press)”. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Who was the 1964 Nobel laureate in literature ? Jean Paul Sartre
  14. 14. The Gale group is a part of Cengage Learning, which provides electronic research and publishing for various educational institutions. Gale has acquired a reputation of providing resources with “accurate and authoritative information”. Along with providing various electronic resources, this company produces and preserves around 600 databases. <ul><li>Biographical Resource Center </li></ul><ul><li>Biography Master Index </li></ul><ul><li>Encyclopedia of World Biography </li></ul><ul><li>This reference source provides around 330,000 biographies, with full text articles on both contemporary and historical figures from various subjects. </li></ul><ul><li>It combines 50 various reference sources owned with in the Gale Group. </li></ul><ul><li>This index provides around 11 million entries. Around 45,000 are added each year. </li></ul><ul><li>As entries are copied, this source covers around 4 million biographies which are found in 900 biographical dictionaries and directories. One of these sources is the “Who’s Who in America.” The purpose is to reduce time consuming searching of other general biographical guides. </li></ul><ul><li>Designed for secondary education levels, general public, and less demanding studies. </li></ul><ul><li>Provides easy wording along with illustrations. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Why did Alexandra Ripley write Scarlett ? <ul><li>''I can't resist it” </li></ul><ul><li>“… as soon as this is done I will be able to write anything I want to.'' </li></ul><ul><li>$$$ ??? </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>International Directory of Business Biographies </li></ul><ul><li>Magill’s Cinema Annual </li></ul><ul><li>Contains four volumes which provide biographical narratives </li></ul><ul><li>Focuses on Business and Corporate World </li></ul><ul><li>Profiles around 600 individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Includes 350 photos, four indexes, and indepth bios </li></ul><ul><li>Focuses on the Cinematic Industry and provides biographies on individuals in both domestic and foreign films. </li></ul><ul><li>Features include extensive credits, awards and nominations, MPAA ratings, eight indexes, and critical reviews from authors. </li></ul>Since 1968, St. James Press has published numerous reference titles. It was developed from its parent company, Gale Group. These titles contain a broad range of disciplines along with several biographies.
  17. 17. Who has an office at 2300 West Plano Parkway, Plano, TX 75075 ? <ul><li>Ross Perot </li></ul>?
  18. 18. For over 110 years, the H.W. Wilson Company has acted as a publisher, vendor and distributor of both online and print sources. The Wilson Biographies cover over 72,000 individuals from antiquity to the present era. Each year, around 1,000 new names are added to their <ul><li>Current Biography </li></ul><ul><li>World Authors: 800 B.C.- Present </li></ul><ul><li>The most popular essay-length biographical aid in all libraries. It has a monthly issue which is allocated in cumulative issues. </li></ul><ul><li>It resembles a modern magazines with “format and catchy biographies”. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s emphasis is on “200 international personalities”, which primarily influences American culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Best known series on authors. </li></ul><ul><li>Not only provides biographical information on authors but gives a list of their literary works. </li></ul><ul><li>The source of the information is either the author (if living) or research consultants. </li></ul>databases. Information searches can be done online or through CD-rom. Researchers can search by name, career, date of birth, or other relevant information. It publishes Current Biography yearbooks from 1940 to the present both online and in CD format. In comparison to Gale, Wilson doesn’t contain as many biographical resources. However, its sources are directed toward the general user while Gale sources focus on collegiate studies. Many smaller public libraries prefer Wilson’s products while academic or large public libraries pick Gale.
  19. 19. Where was Harry Belafonte born? <ul><li>New York </li></ul>
  20. 20. Marquis Who’s Who publishes several biographical directories, which contains brief excerpts on individuals. Generally, these various directories begin with the titled “Who’s Who in ….”, followed by a discipline. This publisher has long history of authority. It began in England with the title “Who’s Who”. Its database provides various biographies and has grown to include figures from many different nationalities. <ul><li>Who’s Who in America </li></ul><ul><li>One of Marquis’ main publishings . </li></ul><ul><li>Between 1899 to 1994, it was produced bienennially. Since 1994, it is being produced annually </li></ul><ul><li>It provides around 128,000 names which includes foreign individuals. </li></ul><ul><li>It is an authority for basic biographical information on American personalities. </li></ul><ul><li>Through Dialog and Nexis links, this source is also referred to as Marquis’ Who’s Who. </li></ul>Who’s Who in the World Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders Who’s Who of American Women Who’s Who of Professional Publications Who’s Who in the South and Southwest Who’s Who in the East Who’s Who in the Midwest Who’s Who in Asia Who Was Who In America Who’s Who in 20th Century America
  21. 21. Where can I find a good biography of Clarence Thomas? <ul><li>http:// / </li></ul>
  22. 22. Best Online Biography Sources <ul><li>Ramapo Catskill Library System : </li></ul><ul><li>Online Reference Resources Biographical Sources: </li></ul><ul><li>Internet Public Library Encyclopedias: </li></ul><ul><li>Biography: </li></ul>
  23. 23. The End