Archive for Reference

RUSA announces 2015 book and media awards for adults

RUSA announced the top books in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and genre; audio books; and reference books for adults – including the Notable Books List, Reading List, Sophie Brody Medal, Listen List, Dartmouth Medal and Outstanding Reference Sources – at its Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.

A list of all the 2015 award winners follows:

Notable Books List for excellence in fiction, nonfiction and poetry:


“All My Puny Sorrows” by Miriam Toews (McSweeneys)

“All the Light We Cannot  See” by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)

“The Bone Clocks: A Novel” by David Mitchell (Random House)

“The Children Act” by Ian McEwan (Nan A Talese)

“The Crane Wife” by Patrick Ness (Penguin)

“The Enchanted: A Novel” by Rene Denfeld (Harper)

“Narrow Road to the Deep North: A Novel” by Richard Flanagan (Alfred A. Knopf)

“On Such a Full Sea” by Chang-Rae Lee (Riverhead)

“Orfeo: A Novel” by Richard Powers (W.W. Norton)

“Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories” by Ron Rash (Ecco)

“Station Eleven: A Novel” by Emily St. John Mandel (Alfred A. Knopf)

“Tigerman” by Nick Harkaway (Alfred A. Knopf)


“The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution” by Jonathan Eig (W.W. Norton)

“Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris” by Eric Jager (Little, Brown and Company)

“Dark Invasion: 1915 Germany’s Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America” by Howard Blum (Harper)

“Factory Man” by Beth Macy (Little, Brown and Company)

“In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette” by Hampton Sides (Doubleday)

“Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story” by Rick Bragg (Harper)

“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau)

“The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses” by Kevin Birmingham (Penguin Press)

“No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” by Glenn Greenwald (Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt)

“Pandora’s DNA: Tracing the Breast Cancer Genes Through History, Science, and One Family Tree” by Lizzie Stark (Chicago Review Press)

“The Secret History of Wonder Woman” by Jill Lepore (Alfred A. Knopf)

“The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt)


“The Blue Buick: New and Selected Poems” by B.H.Fairchild (W.W. Norton)

“Gabriel: A Poem”, by Edward Hirsch (Knopf)

For a complete list of 2015 winners and annotations, see the official announcement here. For a list of past winners and more information on the award and Notable Books Council, visit the Notable Books Award page.

Reading List for excellence in genre fiction:


“Broken Monsters” by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland Books)


“The Goblin Emperor” by Katherine Addison (Tor)

Historical Fiction

“Bitter Greens” by Kate Forsyth (Thomas Dunne)


“The Lesser Dead” by Christopher Buehlman (Penguin)


“Murder at the Brightwell” by Ashley Weaver (Minotaur)


“A Bollywood Affair” by Sonali Dev (Kensington)

Science Fiction

“The Martian” by Andy Weir (Crown)

Women’s Fiction

“My Real Children” by Jo Walton (Tor)

For a complete list of annotations, shortlist titles and read alikes for the 2015 list, see the official announcement here. For a list of past winners and more information on the Reading List Council, visit the Reading List award page.

Sophie Brody Medal for excellence in Jewish Literature:

“A Replacement Life” by Boris Fishman (HarperCollins)

Honorable mentions include:
“The Mathematician’s Shiva” by Stuart Rojstaczer (Penguin)
“In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist” by Ruchama King Feuerman (New York Review of Books)

For a complete description of the 2015 award winner and honorable mentions, see the official announcement here. For a list of past winners and more information on the Sophie Brody Medal, visit the Sophie Brody Medal award page.

Listen List for outstanding audiobook narration:

“The Bees” by Laline Paull. Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy. Blackstone Audio/HarperAudio.

“Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him” by David Henry & Joe Henry. Narrated by Dion Graham. Tantor Media.

“The Home Place” by Carrie La Seur. Narrated by Andrus Nichols. Blackstone Audio/HarperAudio.

“The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd. Narrated by Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye. Penguin Audio/Recorded Books.

“Lord of Scoundrels” by Loretta Chase. Narrated by Kate Reading. Blackstone Audio.

“The Martian” by Andy Weir. Narrated by R.C. Bray. Podium Publishing.

“Moonraker” by Ian Fleming. Narrated by Bill Nighy. Blackstone Audio.

“The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins.  Narrated by Ronald Pickup, Joe Marsh, Fenella Woolgar, Sam Dale, Jonathan Oliver, Jamie Parker, Sean Barrett, David Timson, John Foley and Benjamin Soames. Naxos AudioBooks.

“Queen of the Tearling,” by Erika Johansen. Narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Blackstone Audio.

“The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith. Narrated by Robert Glenister. Blackstone Audio/Hachette Audio.

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. Narrated by Kirsten Potter. Books on Tape/Random House Audio.

“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. Narrated by Bryan Cranston. Brilliance Audio.

For a complete list of annotations and listen alikes for the 2015 winners, see the official announcement here. For a list of past winners and more information on the Listen List, visit the Listen List award page.

Dartmouth Medal for the most distinguished reference publication:

“Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism” published by Princeton University Press.

For a complete description of the award and 2015 winner, see the official announcement here. For a list of past winners and more information on the Dartmouth Medal award, visit the Dartmouth Medal award page.

Outstanding Reference Sources for excellence in reference:

“American Indians at Risk” Edited by Jeffrey Ian Ross (Greenwood)

“Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century” by Monique W. Morris (The New Press)

“Bumblebees of North America” by Paul Williams, Robin Thorp, Leif Richardson and Shelia Colla (Princeton University Press)

“Consumer Healthcare” Edited by Brigham Narins (Gale Cengage Learning)

“Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon” Edited by Barbara Cassin. Translation edited by Emily Apter, Jaques Lezra, and Michael Wood (Princeton University Press)

“Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice” Edited by Jay S. Albanese (Wiley Blackwell)

“Encyclopedia of Deception” Edited by Timothy R. Levine (Sage Publishing)

“Encyclopedia of Humor Studies” Edited by Salvatore Attardo (Sage Publishing)

“Encyclopedia of the Wars of The Early American Republic, 1783-1812” Edited by Spencer C Tucker (ABC-CLIO)

“Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God” Edited by Coeli Fitzpatrick and Adam Hani Walker (ABC-CLIO)

For more information about the award, see the official announcement here. For a complete list of past winners and more information on the award, visit the Outstanding Reference Sources award page.

Selected by judging committees of librarians and other readers’ advisory experts, the awards highlight outstanding works for adult readers and libraries nationwide.  For more information on RUSA’s Book and Media Awards, please visit

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Annual list of Best Free Reference Websites selected by RUSA’s Emerging Technologies in Reference Section

CHICAGO—The 16th annual Best Free Reference Websites list was announced at the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Book and Media Awards Ceremony at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting.

The list made its first debut in the Fall 2014 issue of Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ), RUSA’s research journal. Succinct and insightful annotations were written by the selection committee and reflect all subject areas useful for ready reference and valuable in most libraries.

The list includes:

College Navigator
National Center for Educational Statistics

The College Navigator allows students and parents to search for colleges and universities of possible interest by a number of characteristics such as location and distance from home; programs and majors; institution type (public, private, 2-year, 4-year); institution size; cost; setting (rural, suburban, urban); and more. Special features include the ability to create a My Favorites List to compare schools; a map on which to pinpoint a school’s location; a save your search function; and the ability to export results as a spreadsheet. This is a very useful and easy-to-use tool for creating a list of colleges and universities for further investigation and possible attendance.

Dino Directory
The Natural History Museum, London

Bone up on dinosaurs with this guide that provides facts, figures and images for over 300 dinosaurs. Explore them by name, timeline (Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods), country, or body shape. Each dinosaur entry has a brief fact file with the phonetic pronunciation and meaning of its name, information on its length, height, weight, teeth, diet, food, how it moved, when it lived, and where it was found. Images, general information, taxonomic details and links also are provided.

Encyclopedia Iranica
Encyclopaedia Iranica / Columbia University Center for Iranian Studies

“The Encyclopædia Iranica is a comprehensive research tool dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.” Entries are lengthy and in-depth, and contain extensive bibliographies. The content is searchable as well as browseable, and the website is easy-to-navigate. This is a collaborative resource; “entries are solicited through invitation only, and are subjected to peer review to ensure factual reliability, scholarly objectivity, and political independence.” A Choice Outstanding Title in 2012, this is an excellent resource for information on Iranian history and culture from prehistoric times through the present.

Global Edge
Michigan State University

This website offers a wealth of information about international business. The Global Insights section “provides international business and trade information on over 200 countries, the 50 U.S. states, as well as nearly two dozen industry sectors, and many of the world’s trade blocs.” The “Reference Desk” provides access to resources on international trade laws and statistical data sources for international business. In the “Tools and Data” section, researchers can access the MPI (Market Potential Index) and DIBS (Database of International Business Statistics) free of charge, as long as it’s for academic use (users must register with the website using a .gov or .edu email address).

Great Websites for Kids
American Library Association, Association for Library Service to Children

“Great Websites for Kids is a compilation of websites geared to children from birth to age 14. Suggested sites are evaluated by the Great Websites for Kids Committee using established selection criteria. The committee is made up of members of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.” This site allows for keyword searching or browsing through the listed headings of Animals, The Arts, History & Biography, Literature & Languages, Mathematics & Computers, Reference Desk, Sciences, or Social Sciences. Each heading is further subdivided into special interest areas. An additional link leads to recommended sites for parents, caregivers, teachers, and others. There are prominent links to Sites of the Week, Recent Sites, Most Popular, and Top Rated.

Practical Money Skills – Financial Literacy for Everyone

“To help consumers and students of all ages learn the essentials of personal finance, Visa has partnered with leading consumer advocates, educators, and financial institutions to develop the Practical Money Skills program. At and, consumers, educators, parents, students and policymakers can access free educational resources, including personal finance articles, games and lesson plans.” Available videos cover Personal Finance, Financial Football and Soccer (covers financial planning, not playing), Khan Academy, and Financial Literacy Summits. Various calculators are offered to help explore options before buying a car, home, taking out a loan, paying for college, or retirement.

Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics
University of Albany, Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center

The online Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics is a treasure trove of criminal justice-related statistics. Among the broad categories of statistics included are criminal justice characteristics; public opinion; crime, victims; arrests, seizures; courts, prosecution, sentencing; and parole, jails, prisons, and the death penalty. Data tables are provided in PDF or spreadsheet CSV formats and updated as new data arrives. An archive of past Sourcebooks is also available.

State of Working America
Economic Policy Institute

This website presents a by-the-numbers overview of how the economy affects the living standards of working Americans. It includes data on “family incomes, wages, jobs, unemployment, wealth, and poverty.” The charts, graphs, and data sets are easy to read, and they also contain a very helpful “documentation and methodology” paragraph which explains how the data was gathered and how to make sense of it. Several “Fact Sheets” also provide overviews on sub-topics such as women, young workers, collective bargaining, and inequality. This is an extremely well-designed and accessible website with a wealth of valuable information about US workers and the economy.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs

“The US Department of Veterans Affairs provides patient care and federal benefits to veterans and their dependents.” The VA Website offers an abundance of important resources on benefits and services such as compensation, pension, survivor benefits, rehabilitation, employment assistance, education assistance (GI Bill), home loans and life insurance coverage. Another valuable section includes health care information & resources (including a useful hospital locator) and mental health resources and services (with links to the 24/7 Veteran’s Crisis Line & the National Center for PTSD). Other information includes information for starting a business and end of life resources (burial, etc.).
Thinkmap, Inc.

By no means just a dictionary, this site offers vocabulary lists, a dictionary, and word challenges. They all work together to set a thorough, practical, and fun grounding in learning new words. Vocabulary lists have been created from items such as popular movies, historical documents, just for fun, political speeches, literature, or test prep. The challenge section quizzes you on word meanings, tracks words missed and adds them to a list of words being learned. All uses of a word are defined and usage examples given.
Create a free account for personalized vocabulary instruction, charts and graphs showing progress and other features.

What Should I Read Next? 
Thoughtplay Ltd

 This simple, user-friendly website provides quick book recommendations. The site allows someone to enter the title of a book they like so that the site can use its large database of readers’ favorite books to make book suggestions related to the topics of the original book title entered. From the results page, one can also browse books by subject.

Opening the Book

Whichbook provides a unique, easy-to-use tool that helps readers choose a book to read based upon a wide variety of factors like mood, emotion, plot shape, type of main character, country the book is set in, and more. Books in this database are fiction or poetry, written or translated into English and published in the last 10 years. All titles on Whichbook have been read by one of a changing team of 70 people drawn from libraries and literature organizations.

Wikitravel – The Free Travel Guide

Wikitravel is an open source world-wide travel guide with up-to-date information on attractions, hotels, restaurants, travel tips and more for many locations. Individuals from around the globe contribute their advice to this guide, inspired by Wikipedia. This site has a comprehensive search feature and nearly 95,000 pages in English.

World Public Opinion
Program on International Policy Attitudes

In our growing global environment, this website provides information and analysis about public opinion around the world, and serves as a ready reference source for topical information as well as being fully embedded on a research level. “As the world becomes increasingly integrated, problems have become increasingly global, pointing to a greater need for understanding between nations and for elucidating global norms.” The frequency at which the public opinion information is provided is very good for many regions and topics.

The Best Free Reference Websites selection committee consisted of Janice Wilson, Chair, Georgia Baugh, Sarah Lehmann, Rosemary Meszaros, Ashley Rosener, Colleen Seale, Virginia Sojdehei, and Paul Victor, Jr.


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The “Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism” wins Dartmouth Medal for excellence in reference sources

CHICAGO– The winner of the 2015 Dartmouth Medal for most outstanding reference work, an annual award presented by the expert reference and collection development librarians of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of ALA, is the Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism published by Princeton University Press.

As its description states, “With more than 5,000 entries totaling over a million words, this is the most comprehensive and authoritative dictionary of Buddhism ever produced in English. It is also the first to cover terms from all of the canonical Buddhist languages and traditions: Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.” The members of committee found the book to be a true meisterwerk—scholarly yet accessible, exhaustive, yet usable. As one member put it, “if you can apply the word ‘elegant’ to a reference work, this would be the book.” We expect inquirers in religion and culture at all levels from the merely curious to the scholarly to benefit from this dictionary.

The Dartmouth Medal, established in 1974, honors the creation of a reference source of outstanding quality and significance. The award is given to the best new reference source published in 2014.

The Dartmouth Medal selection committee includes: Nicolette Warisse Sosulski (Chair) Portage District Library; Angela Courtney, Indiana University; Patricia Gregory, Saint Louis University; Janet Elaine Pinkley, CSU Channel Islands; Lise Snyder, University of California, Los Angeles; Dave Tyckoson, California State University Fresno.

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2015 Outstanding Reference Sources List: Reference publications for small and medium-sized public and academic libraries

CHICAGO – The most noteworthy reference titles published in 2014 have been named to the 2015 Outstanding References Sources List, an annual list selected by experts of the Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of ALA.

The Outstanding Reference Sources Committee was established in 1958 to recommend the most outstanding reference publications published the previous year for small and medium-sized public and academic libraries. The selected titles are valuable reference resources and are highly recommended for inclusion in any library’s reference collections.

The 2015 winners are:

American Indians at Risk, Jeffrey Ian Ross, Editor. Greenwood

Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century, by Monique W. Morris. The New Press.

Bumblebees of North America, by Paul Williams, Robin Thorp, Leif Richardson & Shelia Colla. Princeton University Press.

Consumer Healthcare, Brigham Narins, Editor. Gale Cengage Learning.

Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon. Barbara Cassin, Editor. Translation edited by Emily Apter, Jaques Lezra, and Michael Wood. Princeton University Press

The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Jay S. Albanese, Editor. Wiley Blackwell.

The Encyclopedia of Deception. Timothy R. Levine, Editor. Sage Publishing.

The Encyclopedia of Humor Studies. Salvatore Attardo, Editor. Sage Publishing.

The Encyclopedia of the Wars of The Early American Republic, 1783-1812. Spencer C Tucker, Editor. ABC-CLIO.

Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God. Coeli Fitzpatrick and Adam Hani Walker, Editors. ABC-CLIO.

The Outstanding Reference Sources selection committee consists of Curtis Ferree, Fairfield University, Chair; Shelley Arlen, University of Florida; Julie Elliot, Indiana University-South Bend; Annie Fuller, St. Louis County Library; Adam Jackman, Pierce County Library; Alec Sonsteby, Metropolitan State University; Kathi Woodward, The Library Center; Jessica McCullough, Connecticut College; Stephanie Alexander, California State University, East Bay.

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