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U. of I. librarian launches comprehensive Web database of field guides
Date:1/29/2008

Journeying to Johannesburg to survey bat colonies? To Kenya to count monkeys? To Tasmania to track devils Down Under? What about Roman ruins in Britain? Snowflakes in North America?

No worries, theres a field guide for you, in fact, an entire digital database of weird and wacky but mostly practical field guides to all matter of, well, matter. And that includes French cheese, purposeful knots and English churchyard lichens.

Diane Schmidt, the biology librarian at the University of Illinois Library, has built and launched the most complete database of field guides to date. The International Field Guides Web Site merges Schmidts own book, A Guide to Field Guides: Identifying the Natural History of North America (Libraries Unlimited, 1999), and its companion Web site, International Field Guides, plus 2,000 new titles.

After the publisher returned copyright to the book, I decided to combine the two products and create a searchable database of field guides for plants, animals and other objects in North America and around the world, Schmidt said, adding that she personally examined most of the guides in the database. This means she probably has seen more field guides than anyone else in the world.

There are other limited lists of field guides, for example, shore plants and animals of the Pacific Northwest or the best guides for butterflies in the Eastern United States, but none that come close to this database in terms of scope and comprehensiveness, Schmidt said.

Schmidt said that while her book sold well for such a specialized publication, the associated International Field Guides Web site got thousands of hits a month, so going Web-only has really expanded the availability of the data.

The new database is getting at least 5,000 hits per month, Schmidt said.

The new and enlarged database has a book bag feature that allows users to download information from items they select, which includes the ti
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Contact: Andrea Lynn
andreal@uiuc.edu
217-333-2177
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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