Monday, June 28, 2010

Directories: types, characteristics and uses

Representative sources
Directory of directories

Directories in Print. Gale.
Describes c. 15,500 active rosters, guides and other print and non-print address lists published in the U.S. and worldwide. Title/keyword index.

Library directories
American Library Directory. Bowker.
Lists public, academic, and many special libraries in the U.S. and Canada.

Directory of Libraries in Canada.
Offers information on Canadian libraries, resource centers, business information centres, professional associations, regional library systems, archives, library schools and library technical programs. Indexed by subject, location, personal name, and website/email.

A worldwide directory of library homepages, web-based OPACs, Friends of the Library pages.

Directory of Manitoba Libraries.

Publishing and book trade
Canadian ISBN Publisher’s Directory
Contains name and contact information for most Canadian publishers, past and present, who use the ISBN system. It currently lists some 20,000 publishers. Names and addresses for francophone publishers in Quebec are not included. These ISBNS are assigned by the Quebec ISBN Agency.

Canadian Publishers Directory
published twice yearly (in June and December). Distributed free to all Quill & Quire subscribers.

Literary Market Place. Bowker.
Business directory of the American book publishing industry. Includes some Canadian publishers. Free web version requires registration.

Education and research directories
CEA Handbook
Canadian Education Association directory. Includes names, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail, and web sites of: senior officials in all departments/ministries of education; school boards, their key administrators and enrolments; national and provincial education associations (including teacher, trustee, and home and school associations); teacher education institutions, community colleges, cegeps, and universities; education periodicals; and federal departments and agencies involved in education.

The Directory of Canadian Universities. Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC)

Research Centers Directory. Gale.
Reports on the programs, facilities, publications, educational efforts and services of North America’s leading nonprofit research institutes.

Schools in Manitoba. Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth.

Scott’s Directory of Canadian Schools
Lists over 16,000 schools with over 32,000 key contacts such as principal, vice-principal, librarian and guidance councilor. The print edition lists all the contacts; titles; addresses; phone and fax numbers; email addresses and all the statistics on each school.

World of Learning. Europa.

A one stop international resource.
Lists over 30,000 universities, colleges, schools of art and music, libraries, learned societies, research institutes, museums and art galleries – arranged alphabetically by country.
Professors at major universities are listed by name together with the subjects in which they specialize.
All entries provide: name; address; telephone and fax numbers, e-mail and internet address; principal personnel; activities and publications, where available.
Can double as an international library directory, international university directory, etc.

Business directories
Blue Book of Canadian Business
Provides information about Canada’s top performing companies.

Company Directories.
From Industry Canada.

Fraser’s Canadian Trade Directory
Useful for finding suppliers and manufacturers by product classification and trade names.

Manitoba Companies Database
Each organization’s listing provides contact information including: address; telephone and fax; geographic export markets in which they are active or interested; and an overview of their capabilities.

Thomas’ Register of American Manufacturers
Massive collection of manufacturer’s catalogues and classified listing of services offered. Available online but must register.

Association Directories
Associations Canada: the Directory of Associations in Canada

IPL Associations on the Net
From Internet Public Library
A collection of over 2,000 Internet sites providing information about a wide variety of professional and trade associations, cultural and art organizations, political parties and advocacy groups, labor unions, academic societies, and research institutions. Abstracts summarizing information about the association and its site are provided.

Encyclopedia of Associations. Gale.
Lists non-profit membership organizations in U.S. that have a national scope.
Includes organization’s complete name, address and phone number together with the primary official’s name and title; fax number, when available; founding date, purpose, activities and dues; national and international conferences. Indicates if association has publication. Excellent source for finding brief history, number of members, etc.

Gateway to Associations Online
This directory service from American Society of Association Executives, takes you directly to many of the associations currently operating on the World Wide Web.

Government Directories (commercially published)
Canadian Parliamentary Guide. Gale.
Provides the following: biographical sketches of current parliamentarians, including those serving in the Privy Council, Senate and House of Commons; results of all federal general and by-elections since 1867; current and historical data on provincial and territorial governments including statistical information, listings for provincial and territorial legislative assemblies and general by-election results; and more.

Scott’s Government Index
Features 20,000 key government contacts in all Canadian Federal and Provincial Departments. This directory is published quarterly with an average of 40% change every quarter.

Worldwide Government Directory
Provides names and contact information for ministers, undersecretaries, directories, deputies, advisers, and aides in the executive branch of 195 world governments. The directory also provides contact information for key public officials in the legislative and judicial branches, as well as foreign diplomatic representation in each country, including United Nations representation. Also included are top-level officials in over 100 international organizations like the United Nations, World Bank and the Western European Union.

Telephone, Fax, Zip and Postal Code Directories
Canada 411
Address and phone listings for over 10 million people and businesses in Canada.

Canadian Postal Code Lookup Service
Enter Canadian address information and get back the appropriate postal code. Also has an American zip code lookup.

Telephone & Address Resources

Listings of online sources compiled by the Internet Public Library.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Biographical sources

  • Biography is an extremely popular subject area (Biography channel, biographical literature, Who's Who, etc.)
  • Encyclopedias, encyclopedia yearbooks, annuals, directories all may contain some biographical info<>
  • Many ready reference sources exist devoted specifically to biography
Biography: An account of a person’s life written, composed, or produced by another Related literary forms are:
Autobiography: the narration of a person’s life by himself or herself 
Memoirs: the history of a person’s time as seen by the individual who writes them 

Diary: a day-to-day account of the happenings and events in a person’s life, recorded by that person 
Letters: written communications of a personal nature which may be intimate narratives, records of events, or expressions of the writer’s thoughts and philosophy
Types CharacteristicsUses
Current biographical directories (e.g. Who's who)Provide brief factual information on living people. If older editions retained, can use to find information on deceased people.Locate information about individuals, e.g. address, date of birth, degrees earned, awards received, positions held, etc.
Current biographical dictionariesBiographical essays about famous living people. More detailed information about a person such as accomplishments or general lifestyle.
Retrospective biographical dictionariesTwo types: Universal and national.Universal: covers people worldwide.National: People from a specific country only.Information about famous historically significant people. Useful for countries that do not have own biographical directories. People have to be dead for inclusion.
ObituariesArticles from national or regional newspapers and magazines. News stories written by news staff, not notices placed by families.Find bio information about people who can't be found in standard bio reference sources.
Biographical indexes Tell where info about individuals can be found rather than providing information directly. E.g. HW Wilson. Find a relevant biography. Find extensive biographical information on a person from a variety of perspectives.
Evaluation and selection
  • Format
    • Organized in a logical manner?
    • Abbreviations easy to interpret?
    • Photos or other images used? If so, what is their quality?
  • Scope
    • Who is included?
    • What is the criteria for inclusion?
  • Authority
    • Reputation of publisher?
    • Has resource been published for many years?
    • Are sources from which information obtained listed?
    • Additional references for further reading supplied?
    • What do reputable, unbiased reviewing sources say?
  • Accuracy
    • How accurate is information? (Comparing information between different sources can help in determining)
  • Currency
    • Current biographical information included?
    • New editions should reflect changes and current biographical directories such as “Who’s Who” should be revised frequently
Indexing and searchability
  • If in print format is index helpful, accurate, and internally consistent in style and terminology?
  • Does index complement overall arrangement of the work?
  • If electronic, how easy is it to search? Boolean searching available? Keyword searching?
Comments re biographical sources
  • Apt to reflect opinion of era in which written
  • International biographical dictionaries tend to give more emphasis to nationals of country in which published
  • Encyclopedias useful for those who are dead, less for the living
  • Encyclopedias and national biographical dictionaries are apt to include evaluation as well as narration of accomplishments
  • National biographical dictionaries cover more detail than international dictionaries
  • Local histories with long biographical sections are a good source of information about less prominent persons
  • Newspaper and periodical indexes give good references for obituaries, outstanding accomplishments, contemporary opinion and eye witness accounts
  • Special biographical dictionaries of writers and artists usually give more biocritical information and more biographic citations than general sources
  • Special biographical dictionaries of scientists usually give more specific information than a general source
  • Literary histories and handbooks are a good source of biographies of poets, dramatists and novelists
Biographical search tips
  • If nationality not known, consult an encyclopedia or international biographical dictionary first
  • If nationality known, consult a national biographical dictionary first
  • If person no longer alive, consult a retrospective source first
  • If person’s profession known, consult biographical sources for that profession first
  • If person’s place of residence or major contribution is known, consult source for that area if possible

Monday, June 14, 2010

General comments on biographical sources

  1. Apt to reflect opinion of era in which published.
  2. International biographical dictionaries tend to give more emphasis to nationals of country in which published.
  3. Encyclopedias useful for those who are dead, less so for the living.
  4. Encyclopedias and national biographical dictionaries are apt to include evaluation as well as narration of accomplishments.
  5. National biographical dictionaries cover more names in more detail than international dictionaries.
  6. Local histories with long biographical sections are a good source of information about less prominent persons.
  7. Newspaper and periodical indexes give good references for obituaries, outstanding, accomplishments, contemporary opinion, and eye witness accounts.
  8. Special biographical dictionaries of writers and artists usually give more biocritical information and more biographic citations than general sources.
  9. Special biographical dictionaries of scientists usually give more specific information than a general source.
  10. Literary histories and handbooks are a good source of biographies of poets, dramatists and novelists.
Biographical search tips
  • If nationality not known, consult an encyclopedia or international biographical dictionary first.
  • If nationality is known, consult a national biographical dictionary first.
  • If person no longer alive, consult a retrospective source first.
  • If person living, consult a current source first.
  • If person’s profession is known, consult biographical sources for that profession first.

Selected reference sources
Current biographical dictionaries

Canadian Who’s Who. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. FC 25 .C35
Annual. The largest and most authoritative Who’s Who published in Canada, featuring over fifteen thousand biographical sketches. Selection on merit alone. Exact addresses for important business and social correspondence. Precise information concerning degrees, honors, names of immediate family, business and/or professional history. Available in print and CD-ROM editions. 1997 version available at no cost on the Web at

Who’s Who in Canada. Toronto: Global Press. FC 25 .W6
This annual publication has some overlap with Canadian Who’s Who, but covers mainly financial and government figures. Contains over 2,000 brief sketches, and includes portraits.
Who’s Who in America. Chicago: Marquis. E 176 .W642
Annual. This standard dictionary of contemporary biography is primarily American but includes persons from Canada and Mexico. Covers more than 80,000 individuals. For versions see Marquis website
Who’s Who. London: A & C Black. (American edition published by St. Martin’s)
A British publication containing brief sketches for over 30,000 prominent British and international figures.
Current Biographical Dictionaries
Current Biography. New York: H.W. Wilson CT 100 .C8
11 monthly issues with annual cumulation in Current Biography Yearbook. Has longer biographies (2,500 words/2-3 pages). Each year covers about 200 individuals, as well as obituary notices for about 150 individuals who died during the year. International in scope, but heavily American. Includes portraits and biographies.
Contemporary Authors. Detroit: Gale. Z 1224 .C612
Contains essays of at least one page in length on over 100,000 current authors (including movie and television writers, journalists, critics, musicians, as well as individuals prominent in other fields). Contains lists of writings and bibliographies. Published in several series, including the Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, which includes updated essays on writers in the first series. In print, CD-ROM, and on the Web by subscription.
Literary Index is an online index to the entire combined series. It enables you to find which Gale literature series include entries on an author. You can search for the title of a literary work to see who wrote it and/or where it’s discussed in Gale’s literature criticism series, and look for authors in the Index by name, birth date, death date, or nationality.
Current/Retrospective Biographical Dictionaries – UniversalCambridge Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1995.
Provides the essential details on more than 14,000 people from the past and present. Includes both those living and those now dead. A condensed version of the Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia/
Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia. Cambridge: Cambridge U.P.
An authoritative, single-volume reference work on people, both living and dead. In addition to its thousand or more pages of A-Z entries with c. 15,000 short biographies, the book offers a Ready Reference section with lists of c. 10,000 additional political leaders and rulers, Nobel Prize winners, patron saints, sports champions, etc.
Retrospective biographical dictionaries – universal
Merriam-Webster’s Biographical Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster.
Contains about 30,000 entries and does not include living people. Includes a pronunciation guide to the names.
New Century Cyclopedia of Names.
Entries for places, events, literary works, and fictitious and mythological characters, as well as for important people of the past.
Retrospective biographical dictionaries – national
Dictionary of National Biography (DNB). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This is the major British national biographical dictionary and the largest of the national biographical dictionaries. Covers Great Britain, Ireland, and the Commonwealth from earliest times up to 1990. Includes over 36,000 individuals. Essays are about one page in length or more and include bibliographies. New version under title Oxford Dictionary of National Biography slated for publication in 2004.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Toronto: U of Toronto Press.
Canada’s national biography. The 1st phase, volumes I-XII, covers major and minor noteworthy Canadians who died between the years 1000 and 1900. Contains essays of up to 10,000 words for each individual. Includes bibliographies. Volumes XIII (1901-1910) and XIV (1911-1921) have been published and further volumes are in the planning stages.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
Free source covering persons who died between the years 1000 and 1920 or whose last known date of activity falls within these years. The biographies are fully searchable by keyword and volumes 2, 4-8, and 11-14 are accessible by identity/profession and volumes 2, 5-8, and 11-14 are accessible by geographic region. Each biography in the Online version reproduces one that was originally commissioned by the Dictionary of Canadian Biography for its print version and was republished, sometimes with minor corrections, in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volumes I-XIV, CD-ROM (2000).
American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press.
Covers to 1995 in print version. Online version also available. The most authoritative source on deceased Americans, covering almost 17,500 individuals from virtually all walks of life. It is the first new comprehensive biographical dictionary focused on American history. Most essays are at least one page in length, and they include bibliographies. Online updates to original print volumes available without charge at ANB web site RRC Library has concise version of older Dictionary of American Biography (DAB; Concise Dictionary of American Biography E 176 .C564).
Who Was Who CT 100 .W43
Quinquennial. Essentially the Who’s Who entry with the death date added.
Who Was Who in America. Chicago: Marquis.
Approximately every three years, sketches of Marquis Who’s Who biographees who have died since publication of the prior volume of Who Was Who in America are incorporated into a new compilation.
New York Times Obituaries Index
Canadian Periodical Index
Biographical IndexesBiography and Genealogy Master Index. Gale.
Individuals both living and deceased, from every field of activity and from all areas of the world. Retrospective and current biographical listings with emphasis on currently living Americans, although many deceased and non-U.S. individuals are also included.
Over 11 million biographical sketches which have been published in a variety of “who’s who” type sources: biographical dictionaries, subject encyclopedias, volumes of literary criticism and more. Contrary to its name does not cover genealogy well since passenger lists and similar sources are not indexed. Available in print, fiche, online and CD-ROM.
Biography Index. H.W. Wilson (available of OCLC FirstSearch)
Cites biographical material appearing in more than 3,000 periodicals indexed in other H.W. Wilson databases and additional selected periodicals, some 2,500 current books (annually) of individual and collective biography, and incidental biographical material in otherwise non-biographical books. Periodicals indexed are selected from all subject areas represented by other H.W. Wilson databases. Available in print, CD- ROM and on the Web.
Biography Reference Bank. H. W. Wilson.
A compilation of two Wilson databases – Biography Index Plus and Wilson Biographies Plus Illustrated. Biography Index Plus consists of citations to approximately 2,500 books of individual and collective biography and citations from the 3,000 journals indexed in the Wilson databases. More than 1,450 journals include full-text context. Includes all volumes from Current Biography. BRB also has material licensed from ABC-CLIO, Fitzroy Dearborn, and others. Coverage is international and includes both the living and the dead for a combined total of more than 195,000 individuals and growing.
Biography Resource Center. Gale.
Online subscription product from Gale. Has biographical sketches and photos of thousands of people from hundreds of authoritative sources. It contains information on celebrities and experts in all fields and from all ages both living and dead. For online tour go to
Internet Sites
“Internet Resources: Biography resources: Finding information on the famous, infamous, and obscure” College & Research Libraries News. January 2002.
Lives the Biography Resource.
The largest guide to biography sites on the Web. Has a section on Canada, “Lives: Special Collections: Canadian”.
Michigan Electronic Library Biography Links.
An extensive and regularly updated listing of biographical sources on the Web, produced by the Library of Michigan and the University of Michigan.
Biographical Dictionary.
“This dictionary covers more than 28,000 notable men and women who have shaped our world from ancient times to the present day. The dictionary can be searched by birth years, death years, positions held, professions, literary and artistic works, achievements, and other keywords.”
Allows you to search through over 20,000 paragraph-length biographies of notable personalities from antiquity to the present. Developed by A&E Television Networks from the Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia.
See also
Biography section from Ontario Library Service. Ready Reference Sources.
Library and Archives Canada. Canadian Information by Subject biography section.