Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

DISCovering Biography 1.0

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

DISCovering Biography 1.0

Article excerpt

DISCovering Biography 1.0. Detroit: Gale, 1997. (ISBN 0-7876-0916-1; ISSN 1090-3739). Stand alone $300/year; network $400/year (2-8 users); annual updates. Requirements (stand alone): 386 PC/compatible or higher, DOS 5.0 or higher, MS Windows 3.1 or higher, MSCDEX version 2.2 or higher, 8 MB RAM, 5 MB hard disk space, SVGA graphics card and monitor (256-color display), 2x or higher CD-ROM player, Windows compatible mouse/pointing device. Optional: printer. Requirements (network): Above plus Novell, 3 Corn, IBM Token Ring, or other NetBIOS compatible network.

Developed to "meet the needs of teachers and students" (introduction, 1, "Teachers' Guide"), this CD includes two thousand biographies of "the most-studied" (introduction, 1) people in the current high-school curriculum. Entries include artists, entertainers, politicians, authors, athletes, technologists, and others.

Upon loading the CD, the user finds several choices for searching the database. Users may search by name, place, or subject. Subject choices include browsing an alphabetical list or an outline choice of twelve subjects, such as mathematics, medical science, or government. A full-text search option is also available, as is a "custom" search that allows readers to search combinations of fields of the data records, such as occupations, ethnicity, gender, birthday, or awards conferred.

Entries are preponderantly Americans, but include many leaders and celebrities from other countries and times. Persons covered include such popular culture figures as Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson; world leaders such as Deng Xiaoping and Muammar Qadhafi; scientists such as Heisenberg and Newton; artists such as Titian or Handel. A slant toward contemporary figures seems apparent.

From the main menu, students may select the timeline choice that allows a search by a particular year. A picture gallery of many of the people covered may also be browsed. The chronology covers from the birth of Menes in 3420 B.C. to the 1996 death of Ronald Brown. Navigation is straightforward and intuitive. …

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