rusq: Vol. 50 Issue 2: p. 186
Sources: Encyclopedia of Global Resources
Aimee deChambeau

Aimee deChambeau, Associate Librarian, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York

The 2010 Encyclopedia of Global Resources is an updated and expanded four-volume edition of Natural Resources, a three-volume encyclopedia released in 1998. This encyclopedia covers a wide range of topics that reflect not only the management, extraction, and processing of natural resources, but also the economic and environmental impact of those activities. Of the 576 articles included in this work, there are 105 describing specific mineral and nonliving resources form the core. These address the geographic distribution and availability, technical description, history, extraction, and uses of each resource. Close attention is paid to oil and other energy resources, including alternatives such as hydropower and nuclear energy. Plant, animal, and ecological resources are also addressed, as are forty of the most important resource nations. Entries describing major organizations, historical events, and biographies of key individuals are included as well.

All of the original articles have been updated in the 2010 edition, and 143 new articles have been added. Although some article revisions are simply minor wordsmithing, it is important to note that data within the text, sidebars, tables, and charts have been carefully updated. For example, when comparing the 1998 and 2010 editions it is interesting to see the change in percentage of freshwater use in the agricultural industry, or in the numbers and amounts of toxic compounds allowable in U.S. drinking water.

The scope of the new edition has been expanded to reflect the role natural resources play in the global economy. The new articles on important resource nations provide country overviews, discussion of the most prevalent resources, and single-page “Resources at a Glance” insets. Many of the black-and-white photographs illustrating the text have been updated to include images from around the world rather than specific to North America, although, in a few cases, the original article still reflects the distinctively North American perspective of the 1998 edition.

The layout of the 2010 edition is far superior to the earlier version. Article sections are clearly marked with a section heading and additional whitespace. Bibliographies for further reading are listed in a standard reference format rather than as a narrative, making them easier to use, and short lists of major websites likely to remain stable also have been added. Each article entry includes the category or categories under which it falls as well as “see also” references. Combined with the category index at the end of volume 4, this system makes it easy for patrons to explore similar articles. Tables and charts are consistently offset from the text by borders and grey backgrounds. Grayscale pie charts, bar graphs, and diagrams are used effectively to illustrate resource distributions, end-uses of resources, production figures, and other concepts discussed within the text. All photographs are black-and-white and in general are crisp and clear.

Articles are signed and arranged alphabetically, and a volume-specific table of contents as well as a comprehensive table of contents appear at the beginning of each volume. New to the 2010 edition is a six-page “Common Units of Measure” section listing unit, quantity, symbol, and equivalencies at the beginning of each volume. Contributors and their affiliations are listed in volume 1, and volume 4 concludes with 125 pages of appendixes and indexes. Appendixes include a periodic table, lists of major mineral resources for the U.S and Canada, major worldwide mineral resources and producers, a time line, a glossary, a bibliography, and a list of relevant websites. Category and subject indexes complete the volume.

The purchase of the print set currently includes complimentary access to the online version until December 31, 2011. According to the Salem Press website, beginning in January 2012 the publisher will begin charging $100 per year to maintain access. Set up and registration are easy with the URL and activation code provided inside the back cover of volume 1. IP authentication is supported, and entering IP ranges is part of the setup process. The online version has both simple and advanced searching available, and the interface is clean and easy to navigate. When an article is retrieved the user can move through it using a linked table of contents, which is equivalent to the section headings in the print version. “See also” references are linked although, interestingly enough, the categories are not. Glossary terms in the online version are bold blue and when clicked show the definition of the term (the print version does not indicate through bold text or other highlighting when a term is listed in the glossary). Many of the photographs, which are black-and-white in the text, are provided in color in the online version.

There are no truly comparable recent encyclopedias addressing global resources, although many of the topics covered in the Encyclopedia of Global Resources can be found in other scientific or general encyclopedias. For example, “Oil Shale and Tar Sands” is an article in Global Resources, whereas each of these topics has their own, more technically detailed coverage in the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (McGraw-Hill, 2007) under “Oil Sand” and “Oil Shale.” Similarly, “Oil Shale” in the Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition (Encyclopaedia Britannica, www.britannica.com) is less technically described but includes a longer historical treatment. Global Resources, on the other hand, provides a concise overview suitable for high school students and laypeople and through the assigned category “Energy Resources” leads them to additional, related topics within the set. Information in Global Resources is technical but not dense. The benefit of the Encyclopedia of Global Resources is that it does group a wide range of natural resources and related topics, organizations, laws, and people together in a single resource and describes them in ways that are easy to understand yet not oversimplified. The category index further assists researchers in finding related topics within the scope of this set. The Encyclopedia of Global Resources is highly recommended for large public and high school libraries and recommended for academic institutions, particularly within an undergraduate library collection.



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