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Christina's LIS Rant
Monday, February 14, 2005
  No reviews of Computer Books?
I was browsing NYT Circuits columnist Pogue's blog and ran across a post lamenting the lack of computer book reviews. (free reg req for some if not all of the links above). I scoffed. Then thought a little bit...

I logged into Infotrac (a Thomson Gale database for public library use -- btw, what's up with them starting you in the thesaurus? how bizarre is that?) via my local public library to give it a whirl. I chose this database first because I've found that Gale databases are consistent in adding book review to the title field. I chose advance search and searched (Ti (Book Review) AND Ke (Microsoft)). A couple of interesting things, but only from library trade pubs. Tried (Ti (Book Review) AND Ke Dreamweaver). Once again, only library trade pubs. Decent reviews, but not enough of them.

I then logged into my workplace's access (courtesy of our affiliated academic institutions) to WilsonWeb and Book Review Digest Plus (BTW- updated interface, still a little ugly, but better). (microsoft in ALL) -- a little too broad, all kinds of things available. Tried Excel -- some good reviews here, but not, in general, on the basic books. Books like Operations Analysis using Excel and Data analysis with Excel: an introduction for physical scientists were well covered. Missing were reviews of Sams or O'Reilly books. A search for dreamweaver ALL yielded a book from a library journal.

I logged into EbscoHost and Academic Search Premier (couldn't do the public library one, can only do what your IP is linked to apparently). Here there's a "book review" document type. Searched microsoft with that limiter -- seems like lots of good stuff. I searched on Excel and came back with a lot of the specialty books found in Book Review Digest Plus. Dreamweaver yields the same reviews from R.S. Gordon. If you know the name of the book you'd like a review for, you might find it in the subject index. What's more common, I suspect, is someone with an information need who just needs to find the best book to teach them what they need to know. For example, "how do I use CSS to update my blog template?"

This doesn't look good. I hope I'm wrong or missed something obvious.
Update 3/31: Resource Shelf just posted a link to LITA's Technology Electronic Reviews. Another nice librarian resource, but still not exactly what I was looking for. I still want something for the general computer guy.
 
Comments:
I'm going to guess that the Infotrac startup is a library decision. I just tried logging into Infotrac Onefile at my public library and was dropped into the "subject guide search" as a starting point, which this library also seems to use for Expanded Academic Index and it's other Gale/Thompson databases.
-walt crawford-
 
Hi - Anonymous is correct, your InfoTrac start page is configured by your library. If you started in the thesaurus, that's where they thought most of their patrons would like to be. As for your search, I tried it out in InfoTrac OneFile in the Advanced Search using ((Ti (Book Review) AND Ke Microsoft) and Ac Fulltext ) and got 121 Full Text articles. That search in Expaned Academic ASAP returned 67 results. ((Ti (Book Review) AND Ke Dreamweaver) and Ac Fulltext ) got me 12 hits in OneFile. Try working it from the Advanced Search option and select your limiters from the drop downs. They're in there...
 
We've been trying to review some computing books in the Internet Resourcs Newsleter. e.g. http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/irn/irn123/irn123.html#bookreview and http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/irn/irn122/irn122.html#bookreview and http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/irn/irn121/irn121.html#bookreview
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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