Information Sources for Virtual Reality: A Research Guide

By Miller, Carmen | Online, May 1994 | Go to article overview
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Information Sources for Virtual Reality: A Research Guide

Miller, Carmen, Online

Carande, Robert J. Information Sources for Virtual Reality: A Research Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1893. 157pp.

This small volume is way too long on filler, short on substance, dated and overpriced. The author, head of the Science Division of San Diego State University Library, has written a book that is more a guide to library research than a guide to virtual reality information sources. At least fifty percent of the book is devoted to explaining examples of entries from printed indexes.

The tone of the book alternates between condescending and overly academic. On the one hand, Carande defines terms that any student researching virtual reality should know such as "dissertation," "electronic conference," and the difference between the white and yellow pages of a phone book. On the other hand, he delves into the minutiae of "bibliographic control mechanisms" in a way that only library school students would find interesting. Does a student researching virtual reality really want to read four and a half pages on the difference between "authority-based indexing" and "keyword indexing," or four pages on what you will find in that "large multivolume set of red books," the Library of Congress Subject Headings?

Furthermore, the book has enough errors and omissions to leave room for questions about the little "hard" information it contains. For example, Jaron Lanier is referred to as "Janot." The IAC/Predicasts PROMT database is referred to as PROMPT. The author states that IFI/Plenum's Claims/U.S. Patents file is only available online on DIALOG. (Sorry, ORBIT and STN International.) I could go on, but you get the point.

Probably the most useful aspect of the book is Carande's discussion of the various indexes, Carande includes typical subject headings for virtual reality topics. My concern, however, is that these may be hopelessly out-of-date in a field this new--most of his examples are dated 1991 or earlier.

The book is divided into sixteen chapters, many only a few pages long. An appendix includes the addresses of some of the mentioned publishers and producers.

The chapter on Proceedings includes a list of "recent" virtual reality conferences, mostly from 1991-1992. However, Carande does not include the name of the sponsors, so the reader cannot investigate upcoming conferences without further research.

The chapter on Monographs is largely devoted to a discussion of the hierarchical arrangement of LC subject headings. The "Significant Books on Virtual Reality" section illustrates my disappointment with this book. Of twelve sources cited, one is not a monograph at all, and the words "Periodic Review" in its title should give this away. Furthermore, two of the sources cited are merely the hardcover and paperback editions of the same book.

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