Africa S. Hands RUSA presents the best in reference and business resources
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By Africa S. Hands

Abstract

RUSA committees are charged with the enormous task of wading through stacks of print resources and hundreds of websites, spending hours in deliberation to provide the profession with quality, trusted resources. At ALA Midwinter, the group announced its selection of outstanding print and online reference sources.

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The American Library Association (ALA) has wrapped up the 2012 Midwinter conference in Dallas, TX. Known as the conference where ALA divisions and roundtables conduct business and announce winners of the coveted Youth Media Awards, it is also where the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) announces its selection of outstanding print and online reference sources.

This year’s selections for the Notable Books List of fiction, non-fiction and poetry include an interesting work on the transmission of information across several thousand years, “The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood” by James Gleick. Jeffrey Numberg, in a New York Times review, calls the book a “prodigious intellectual survey” that “deserves to be” on the list of books worth reading. Of interest to information professionals, particularly as it relates to decision-making and client relations is “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman which posits two systems that drive our thinking: one fast and emotional, the other deliberative and logical. According to Roger Lowenstein of Bloomberg Businessweek, this “monumental achievement” is “rife with lessons on how to overcome bias in daily life”. Apparently, librarians agree on both accounts.

RUSA’s Outstanding Reference Sources committee selected a variety of encyclopaedic publications for public and academic libraries including Green’s Dictionary of Slang by Jonathan Green which also won the 2012 Dartmouth Medal for outstanding reference work. Interestingly enough the Dartmouth Medal committee presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to the venerable Statistical Abstract of the United States. At the conference, librarians, publishers and vendors attended a forum to discuss life after the abstract and possible next steps. Dan Coyle of ProQuest discussed an online solution while Bruce Samuelson of Bernan Publishing focused on a print option for the abstract. Forum moderator, Alesia McManus has a Facebook group dedicated to building awareness about the abstract’s elimination.

The BRASS Business Reference Sources Committee recognised several resources of practical use to information professionals with their own businesses. “Contracts: The Essential Business Desk Reference” by Richard Stim is highly recommended for business owners needing an easy-to-use guide to understanding contractual terms and uses. “The Manager’s Pocket Calculator: A Quick Guide to Essential Business Formulas and Ratios” by Michael C. Thomsett was written for those without a finance or accounting background but with responsibilities to interpret and report on the financial aspects of a business. It covers rates of return, financial reporting and budgeting among other topics.

In light of the nation’s economic situation, the Business Reference and Services Section Education Committee chose to focus on “websites that provide critical information on employment and housing” for the Best Business Websites. The National Association of Home Builders, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Local Employment Dynamics from the U.S. Census Bureau were selected. Among the Best Free Reference Websites are: International Business Statistics Database, Open CRS, UNESCO Institute for Statistics, UNT Libraries: CyberCemetery and Worldometers.

The various RUSA committees are charged with the enormous task of wading through stacks of print resources and hundreds of websites, spending hours in deliberation to provide the profession with quality, trusted resources. While information professionals cannot possibly know every available resource, we know where to turn to lead us in the right direction. Thank you, RUSA, for your dedication and hard work. The awards reception was also great fun!

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