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Somehow, the lyrics from the Ervin Drake song made famous by Frank Sinatra, "It Was a Very Good Year," kept coming to mind in 2010, despite the economy. While the quantity of works produced declined, and publishers suffered along with everyone else, there was no diminution in quality. With reduced budgets for collections, librarians were forced to make hard choices on what to buy. But what a choice they had! Among our favorites this year is Sharp Suits, which describes the evolution of men's suits worn by luminaries from the Duke of Windsor to David Bowie. Listening to a recent Cajun music concert by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys reminded us of the enduring legacy of the French in Louisiana, which was further enhanced with the publication of the Dictionary of Louisiana French.
On a global scale, everyone was talking about China. Berkshire's Encyclopedia of China, on topics as diverse as the "cadre system" and "yin-yang theory," helps us better understand the Chinese "psyche." Of similar quality is Gale's Encyclopedia of Modern China, whose articles describe China since 1800, complete with color photos, sidebars, and primary sources.
Along with its newest cutting-edge works like Encyclopedia of Human Relationships and Encyclopedia of Giftedness, Creativity and Talent, SAGE also published the most important resource on journalism in a generation and began packaging backlists of encyclopedias available online at affordable prices.
For innovative marketing, hats off to University Press of Kentucky. It not only erected a giant billboard on I-75 to promote its Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky but also created a dedicated Facebook page. And how about Yale University organizing an entire conference at the University of Hull in the UK around the theme of its Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660-1851?
It's been a productive year for getting digital access to American history collections: three of the ten e-only products on the list focus on U.S. history specifically. The other noticeable trend on the e-front is a plethora of multimedia: maps, video, audio, and animation--and more and more of the material is interactive.
World Book Public Library Edition.
World Book. www.worldbook.com
This magnum opus is made up of three distinct sections: World Book Online Reference Center (25,000 encyclopedia articles plus thousands of additional reference articles, technology tutorials, photographs, maps, videos, animations, and audio clips), World Book Online Info Finder (with over 40,000 encyclopedia and reference articles, biographies, multimedia collections, geography resource guides, web links, and research tools), and World Book Online for Kids (with easy-to-read articles, images, illustrations, interactive maps, and teacher resources). The sum of these parts is a stunning success for serving public libraries; brilliantly conceived, implemented, and delivered. (LJ 10/1/09)
LANGUAGE & LINGUISTICS
Dictionary of Louisiana French. Univ. of Mississippi. 892p. ed. by Albert Valdman.
ISBN 978-1-60473-403-4. $38.
Louisiana became a French colony when Cavalier de la Salle and his French Canadian expedition reached the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1682. To this French colonial base 3000 Acadian exiles arrived between 1764 and 1785, and thousands of new French speakers came from Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) and France in the early 19th century. This new dictionary, with input from hundreds of informants and complete with headwords, homonyms, a pronunciation guide, parts of speech, definitions, and more, is the richest inventory of French vocabulary in Louisiana. (LJ 3/1/10)
Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture. 3 vols. Oxford Univ. 1586p. ed. by Jonathan M. Bloom & Sheila S. Blair. illus. maps. index. ISBN 978-0-19-530991-1. $395; Online: Oxford Islamic Studies Online
This set is based on articles from the 1996 Dictionary of Art, which has been recast with a simplified organization and updated bibliographies, including 1600 A-Z articles by 375 scholars, 450 illustrations, and 67 line drawings and maps. The editors use a broad definition to include art made by artists and artisans whose religion was Islam or whose patrons lived in Muslim lands. (LJ 9/1/09)
Musgrave, Eric. Sharp Suits. Pavilion. 200p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 978-1-86205-852-1. $40. …