Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Database: Sharpe Online Library

We know that most researchers, especially undergraduate students, have little patience for using print reference books these days.  So, one of our jobs, as librarians, is to identify and purchase reliable online reference that students can readily access and use to get basic information about a topic as they start their research process.  (That is, we need to give you a practical alternative to Wikipedia!)

To this end, we have several robust collections of online reference books.  These are the online equivalent of authoritative reference encyclopedias and handbooks where entries are authored by scholars and carefully edited by professionals in the topic's field.  (That is, something likely to be better and more reliable than Wikipedia!)  These collections include Gale Virtual Reference Library and Sage Knowledge, as well as Oxford Handbooks Online and CQ Political Reference Suite.

Now we have added another publisher platform of reference books.  It is Sharpe Online Reference (SOLR).

The publisher says that "Sharpe Online Reference offers interdisciplinary subject coverage" and "the convenience and flexibility of online research 24/7." They also claim that their electronic collections provide "revised and updated editions of Sharpe's most popular encyclopedias" and "free annual updates."  Also included: "SOLR Primary Source Archive: more than 500 key annotated documents, audio/visual clips, images, and other primary sources covering all periods of U.S. History," and "Global Voices: more than 125 primary resources and annotations, reflecting foreign perspectives on the United States."

At this point, we have purchased seven of the more recent titles on the platform.  On the U.S. side:

And on the Global side:

As always, we will add only those titles that seem to match the curricular interests of our students and faculty.  But we will certainly be adding additional titles of interest as they are published.  Sharpe encyclopedias are basic, useful reference tools that will likely provide a good starting point for research on related topics.  (But remember, your professors will likely want you to use peer-reviewed journal literature for most of your research!)

One example from our Sharpe titles is  Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures, and Contemporary Issues .  It was described by Library Journal in this way: "coverage of 400 different groups and selected countries and issues is by an impressive roster of historians and anthropologists from a wide range of institutions. It is particularly gratifying to see ethnic and native groups included from Western industrialized nations as well as from the more expected developing areas. ... The articles are written in clear prose and deal with the geography, history, religion, customs and rituals, and colonial experiences of each group while being respectful of each culture's heritage and customs. ... There are few reference sources available in this area with worldwide coverage. Because of its quality and its scope, this excellent work is recommended."

To use SOLR, from the landing page click a title to search within or browse just that one encyclopedia.  Or use the search box at the upper right to search across all the Sharpe content we own.  You should also know that although it is simple to print entries you like, other functions like bookmarking, emailing, and adding notes can only be done after setting up a sub-account.  And if you want a citation, MLA, APA and Chicago style are all included on any print request.

We hope you'll find this new and growing reference collection useful!

[Individual titles we own will all be in our Online Catalog.  Otherwise, find SOLR on our A-Z or eBooks database lists.]