The Lincoln Library of Essential Information

2012. 2,112p. 978-0-91216-822-7. 249.
Gr 9 Up–This 2,000-plus page whopping revision of the 1985 edition claims to be a “broad overview of essential bodies of knowledge; a source that [does] not provide every detail, but only the most essential information,” and it does that, strictly speaking. However, the organization is confusing. Content is arranged thematically as opposed to alphabetically, which would be more convenient. Themes include “Education, Language and Logic,” “Government,” and “Biological Sciences,” with each of these subdivided and each subdivision made more granular still. Many headings are vaguely worded; for instance, “Philosophy as Critique,” “Appearance and Reality,” and “Logical Analysis of Nonsense” are under “Philosophy and Religion.” Trying to find the answer to a sample reference question, “What is the population of Paris?” is anything but straightforward. The table of contents is overly broad, offering headings such as “World Governments,” “Peoples of the World,” and “Sociology,” and the “Paris” entry in the index leads only to information on the Greek god. Index entries for “France” include “Government,” “Literature,” and “Population.” The most promising subdivision, “Population,” yields only the population of the entire country. Using “Population” as a primary search term uncovers a chart listing the population of Paris. Occasional black-and-white illustrations are small and lackluster. Purchase of the print edition allows access to an online edition for two years, but use of that is also problematic. While this content makes for interesting browsing, its arrangement is too confusing for research use. Stick with the “World Almanac” (World Almanac) or “Time Almanac” (Time Almanac) series.-–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Library, NC
Arranged topically, this updated edition presents a quick introduction to and perspective on a broad range of knowledge, from philosophy and language to physical sciences and engineering. Its preface states that while the book “can be used to look up all sorts of interesting facts, it was not designed for that purpose....Instead, this book is designed to provide the reader with a quick introduction to important fields of study.” Each section has its own table of contents. Some subsections contain subject-specific glossaries and chronologies. Sidebars and illustrations present related information and make the dense content easier on the eye. Entries are signed and list resources for further study. Coverage is worldwide, with an American emphasis. The content is as current as possible in a print work, with references to the Arab spring uprisings before Gaddafi’s fall and the presence of ebooks in libraries. Some of the more interesting content includes a synopsis of parliamentary procedure, brief descriptions of cultures and nationalities, and examples of the influence of political think tanks. There are omissions—e.g., “Arts, Entertainment & Sports” has subsections on film and theater but not on radio or television. Libraries purchasing the title will also receive a two-year subscription to the online version, with renewals at $129. The online version, still in beta five months after print publication, has too many problems to recommend it for purchase. Some sections have no content loaded; subject nouns preceded by “The” appear under the letter T; tables present in the print version may not appear in the online version; browsing by letter presents terms first in topical, rather than alphabetical, order, defeating the purpose of browsing by letter. The online version offers links to additional information, but these are not extensive. Users can submit comments about each article, and a citation for the entry appears at the bottom of the screen. Advanced search options are available.
VERDICT The print version is a wonderful title to keep in your cabin for the big snow but will probably see little use in today’s libraries, except in those lacking Internet access and multivolume encyclopedias. The online version is not recommended in its present form.—Teresa R. Faust, Vermont Dept. of Libs., Berlin

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