Academic journal article
By Kalfatovic, Martin R.
Reference & User Services Quarterly , Vol. 38, No. 3
Scribner's American History and Culture on CD-ROM, Release 1.0. New York: MacMillan Library Reference, 1998. Price: $650 (ISBN: Windows 0-684-80584-7; Mac 0-684-80614-2). Unlimited networking w/in a single building; WAN price negotiable.
Requirements: (Windows) IBM PC 486 or higher; Windows 3.1 or 95; CD-ROM drive; 16 MB RAM; VGA color monitor. (Mac) Mac 68040 (Power PC recommended); Mac OS 7.X (Mac OS 8.X recommended); 32 MB RAM; 40 MB free hard disk space; 8X CD-ROM drive (16X CD-ROM drive recommended).
Scribner's American History and Culture on CD-ROM contains the full text of the following Scribner's publications: Dictionary of American History (1976) and its two-volume supplement (1996), The Presidents: A Reference History (1996), and the Encyclopedia of American Social History (1993, with 1998 updates). The product also contains the eleven hundred biographies in supplements nine and ten of the Dictionary of American Biography. A total of approximately eight thousand articles are on the disc.
The titles listed above form the basic navigation device of the disc. Users can select one of the products and then navigate via an alphabetical or chronological list (as appropriate). A useful "Timeline" feature organizes nearly all the disc's contents in chronological order. A sophisticated full-text search tool allows access by keyword (with Boolean, phrase, and various limiting functions) to any article in the text. The "Photo Gallery" allows the user to browse chronologically through all images on the disc. The "Research Topic" section that presents twelve categories ("Causes of the Civil War," "Civil Rights," "Entertainment and Recreation," "Scandals," "Business," etc.) with appropriate links to the disc's contents will interest the high school student or lower-level undergraduate. This quick summary of articles on the selected topic will help with those last minute term-paper questions. The ease of cutting and pasting whole sections of text also will be a temptation during late nights at the computer.
The inclusion of supplements nine and ten only of the Dictionary of American Biography leads to certain incongruities. For example, one may read an extensive article about minor film actress Pier Angeli but find no entry for Henry Ford. In the cases of the other publications, supplements and updates to the original publications are included. New article, s are added, but the old articles are not updated except in selected instances. A potentially useful feature, "Selected Historical Documents," suffers from the inclusion of truncated documents and the occasional typo (in the first line of the Gettysburg Address! …