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

tle, author, date and place of publication, a description of the book, often the ISBN number and approximate cost, plus the region the book focuses on. The site offers more than 5,000 records to date.

The field guides are classified by type of organism and region covered. Eighteen categories are represented: from animals and edible plants, to flora and fauna, and miscellaneous the latter category a most amusing read. Each field guide is described with the type of illustrations, the presence of keys important for identifying difficult groups, and range maps and other useful details that help users decide which field guide to use.

Still, the site has one limitation, Schmidt said: You cant link to the actual book either at a library or a bookstore.

Thats an upgrade that Id really like to make, she said.

Schmidt believes that amateurs and researchers will find the database useful.

I can imagine a range of scenarios, she said. An enthusiastic birder wants to find out what bird field guides are available for Bali, where shes going for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Or, an ornithologist who knows all about the birds of Guatemala might be looking for a comprehensive guide to the birds of Venezuela, since many of them are different. Or, an Illinois high school student wants a guide to the mammals he sees outside his back door.

What were Schmidts criteria for inclusion in the database?

The basic criterion is that they must be guides to the identification of plants, animals or other mostly natural objects. And they must be designed to be taken out into the field, so they need to be small and portable.

Aside from that, I try to discover field guides for all groups of organisms and all regions of the world, and in any language. The emphasis is on books that are still in print, but Ill include older books, too. While its impossible to include each and every field guide from around the world, thats my ultimate
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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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