Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Notable E-Book: Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues

E-Reference is great, but many people still prefer paper for browsing and reading. So it's nice when both options are available. Such is the case with a new edition of an encyclopedia that provides basic overview essays on the science, policy and social issues related to the Environment: the Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues (Salem Press, 2011).

The paper version, available in a four-volume set in our Reference stacks, "assembles information from numerous fields of knowledge relevant to the study of environmental issues, including biology, geology, anthropology, demographics, genetics, and engineering, and explains the interrelationships of these issues in easily understood terms."

A total of 775 A-Z entries are included in this revised edition. (The Law Library owns the previous edition in print.) The publisher claims that "the original essays have been evaluated for their currency, and 123 of them have been either completely replaced or substantially revised to reflect the latest information available." All articles are signed by the academics and other experts who wrote them. They cover a wide variety of topics, including endangered animal species, air pollution, national parks, environmental legislation, oil spills, alternative energy sources, and global climate change. And it's not just the great outdoors that comes under scrutiny, either. In recognition of the fact that people spend an overwhelming proportion of their time in human-made environments, essays also cover such topics as sick building syndrome, noise pollution, smog, and urban planning.

As a reviewer (who recommended it) at Choice indicates, "The breadth of coverage is exemplified by three successive entries: genetically engineered pharmaceuticals, geothermal energy, and Euell Gibbons."

The online version comes on a unified Salem Science platform. Since we also own the Forensic Science encyclopedia, you'll want to select specifically the Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues from the drop down box near the top when you go to the online website.

After making that selection, the search box below will also change to Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues and you can simply enter search terms to see a list of suggested entries. When I search polar ice I get a variety of articles from Polar Bears to Glacial Melting to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, that might be worth looking at. (And, remember, all of our online resources run through a proxy server for off-campus access. So if you are not at a Suffolk IP, you'll need to authenticate with your name and Suffolk ID number to access the online version.)

Salem Press provides basic reference. Their entries tend to be short and simple. This is not scholarly research, so if a professor says to use academic/scholarly materials, you are advised to use journal databases like Academic Search Complete or GreenFILE, instead. (For more, consult our Environmental Science Resource Guide.)

An encyclopedia can be a useful starting point, to gain an understanding of the issues and terminology of a topic. Besides this resource, remember that Sage eReference also has several excellent encyclopedias related to environmental matters, so consider checking there, as well, when you want some introductory overviews on topics related to the environment.