Finding statistics and using special techniques

Finding statistics and using special techniques

526 Book Reviews devoted to some topic of wide interest to a large segment of the general public and meant for the average reader, not the specialis...

206KB Sizes 2 Downloads 32 Views

526

Book Reviews

devoted to some topic of wide interest to a large segment of the general public and meant for the average reader, not the specialist. The list the compiler selected from were government publications distributed to federal depository libraries in paper format. There is a subject index and a title index. The subject index lists the main topics and subtopics in boldface with other subjects in normal print. The number of the entry is listed next to the subject. Two useful chapters are included in the front of the book, “Getting the Most from the Guide,” which describes the terms that are used in the book, and “Acquiring and Using U.S. Government Documents.” This explains how to order material listed in this publication. These are especially useful for the librarian and the general public as it makes people aware of what there is available from the government that they can buy themselves if their local library does not have them. This edition should be purchased since there is very little overlap with any previous edition. Another reason for purchase is that the publications listed can still be found, whereas the material in the other editions are out of print. This would be a very useful and interesting addition to any public library. DANA RUBY Adult Services/Reference Librarian Schlow Memorial Library 100 E. Beaver Ave. State College, PA 16801 USA

Using Government Publications. By Jean L. Sears and Marilyn K. Moody. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx, 1985-86. 2 Vols. Vol. I: Searching by Subjects and Agencies. 1985. viii, 216 pp. $67.50; ISBN O-89774-094-7. Vol. II: Finding Statistics and Using Special Techniques. 1986. viii, 232 pp. $67.50; ISBN O-89774-124-2. For the researcher wanting to systematically plot his/her strategy when using government publications; the library science student beginning a study of documents; the inexperienced librarian, placed in a documents library; and/or the librarian needing some guidance in training staff for reference work in U.S. government publications, this two volume work may answer all of their needs. This two volume set identifies five types of search strategies: “Known Item,” “Subject,” “Agency,” “Statistical,” and “Special Technique.” The first volume illustrates subject and agency searches, while the second covers statistical and special techniques. The known item component is found in both volumes. Within volume one, the subject and agency categories are divided into various topics that lend themselves to utilizing government publications in the research process. A chapter is devoted to each of “Foreign Policy, ” “Foreign Countries,” “Occupations,” “Federal Government,” “Selling to the Government,” “Education,” “Geology, ” “Health,” and “Environmental and Natural Resources” in the Subject Search category. “Government Programs and Grants, ” “Regulations and Administrative Actions,” “Administrative Decisions,” and “The President” are covered in the Agency Search. Within volume two, the statistical search is divided into chapters on: “Population,” “Vital Statistics,” “Economic Indicators, ” “Business and Industry,” “Income,” “Earnings,” “Employment,” “Prices,” “Consumer Expenditures,” “Foreign Trade, ” “Crime and Criminal Justice,” “Defense and Military,” “Energy,” and “Projections.” Special Techniques in researching government publications are examined in the individual chapters: “Historical Searches,” “National Archives,” “Legislative History,” “Budget Analysis,” “Treaties,” “Technical Reports, ” “Patents and Trademarks,” “Standards and Specifications,” and “Foreign Broadcast Information Service Reports (JPRS/FBIS).” Each chapter is designed to be self-contained, yet conform with the others in design. A “Search Strategy” is proposed for each chapter. The reader is led from the broad categories “General” and “Basic Sources,” “Indexes,” “Statistical, ” “Online Databases” and others to the more specific, depending on the topic. After each of these categories, there is a discussion of the individual titles that have been listed in that checklist. Bibliographic information is cited clearly and accurately. Frequency, date of publication, place of publication and publisher, Superintendent of Documents Number and Item number, where applicable, are supplied for all titles.

Book Reviews

527

Although this is a guide to U.S. government publications, the authors also suggest many nongovernment titles to complete the coverage where appropriate. Often individual titles are repeated in different chapters. This becomes necessary due to the obvious, multipurpose nature of these titles. AS1 and CZS Indexes, Code of Federal Regulations, Monthly Catalog and Statistical Abstract of the United States are just a few examples of these. A number of the topics lend themselves to greater detail and elaboration than others. The reasons for this can vary from the sheer magnitude of the material published on the subject to the scope of the topic itself. The chapter on “Elections” for instance, while only eight pages in length, suggests ten different source areas to examine. “Government Programs and Grants” expands to 15 pages to discuss seven categories of sources, while “Business and Industry Statistics” examines 14 categories in 19 pages. In combination, the two volumes give comprehensive coverage of five major approaches to research in government publications. There are, however, topics in “Special Techniques” that could have been well placed in the “Subject Search.” If one were to expect to find information on Patents and Trademarks or Standards and Specifications, one would have to use volume two. This is not necessarily a shortcoming. However, it does necessitate acquiring both volumes if the subject demands of library patrons are to be well covered. These volumes are clearly organized and concisely written. The coverage is very thorough. Good indexes (the index to volume one is compiled by Fred Ramey and to volume two, by Linda Webster) are provided with author, title and subject access. The large format, with bold distinct type makes the work easy to read and easy for the novice to use as a self-paced teaching and/or learning guide. The sample pages which are reproduced from indexes, catalogs and other publications, are an excellent aid for the user. The step-by-step approach on a per question basis should encourage researchers to be more confident when using government publications. In addition to its practical uses for quick referral, as no one chapter is very long, the bibliographic information supplied and the analysis of the individual titles make this work suitable as a selection tool for nondepository libraries. SUZAN A. HEBDITCH U.S. Documents Librarian University of California, Irvine Main Library P.O. Box 19557 Irvine, California 92713 USA American Legal Literature: A Guide to Selected Legal Resources. By Bernard D. Reams, Jr., James M. Murray, and Margaret H. McDermott. Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1985. 239 pp. $27.50 (U.S.), $33.00 (elsewhere); ISBN O-87287-514-8. LC 85-20769. The primary value of this guide is its annotated bibliography of 167 secondary legal reference sources and 393 law-related monographs. Public, academic, or special libraries will find this listing a great boon in the selection of materials for both the lay reader and the nonlaw professional. Its greatest weakness, however, is attempting to do too much by trying to include “the most current compilation” of primary legal materials in Section 1 without an explanation of their functions or interrelationships. Nor do the authors clearly warn that such an understanding is essential before beginning legal research. This work must, therefore, be directed at the legal researcher, even though, in the introduction, the authors advocate access to legal information for persons without legal training. Undeniably this is desirable, but without an adequate understanding of how to get at this information via digests, indexes, and other specialized tools, the novice can be extremely confused. There cannot be too much emphasis on currency of information through supplements, pocket parts, and Shepardizing cases to determine current validity. Shepard’s Citations are only mentioned on p. 2, with a reference to Cohen and Berring’s How to Find the Law, p. 249 for an explanation. The Citations are not listed in the finding aids for primary legal materials either. Finding only part of the law can be misleading and even dangerous. A basic text such as Cohen and Berring; Jacobstein and Mersky’s Fundamentals of Legal Research, 3rd ed. (1985); Finding the Law; A Workbook on Legal Research for Laypersons by Al Coca; or Cohen’s Legal Research in a Nutshell should be consulted first. These and other guides to legal research are in Section 2 of this bibliography.