Sources: The Reference Guide to Data Sources

The Reference Guide to Data Sources. By Julia Bauder. Chicago: ALA, 2014. 172 p. Paper $62 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1227-0).

For librarians faced with reference questions that have them wishing for a data specialist on staff to provide guidance, The Reference Guide to Data Sources provides expert assistance. Written by a librarian for librarians, the guide contains clear and concise directions on how to start a data search. The book focuses on helping library professionals answer questions in the burgeoning field of data reference, but it could also be easily used by end users. The guide begins with basic background information on how to conduct a reference interview for a patron with a data need and an overview of data jargon, definitions, and terms. The author also lists major agencies that gather statistics at both the national and international levels, clarifying the reasons some data is disseminated and some is not. The second chapter lists general data sources, places to begin a search before heading to the more specific resources listed in the subject based sections. The subsequent chapters provide quick introductions to the kind of data collected in various topic areas and list annotated resources for each that are divided into major and minor sources. The librarian or end user can simply flip to the relevant chapter and see what is available in a subject area. Most of the recommended data sets in the book are freely available, online, quantitative, and oriented toward the social sciences. Both US and international data resources are included. This guide would be especially useful for a new librarian, an experienced professional new at answering data questions, or a librarian simply unfamiliar with certain subject-specific data sets. The last chapter covers what to do when an online data search has failed, illustrating ways to use article databases and Worldcat in data searches as well as how to access experts. Also included are tips on how to cite data and how to use the open source Survey Documentation and Analysis software. Overall, this guide serves as an accessible and well organized overview of online places to search for data. This book is highly recommended for all types of libraries.—Rachel Hamelers, Science Librarian, Muhlenberg College Library, Allentown, Pennsylvania


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