Libraries that already own Gale/UXL's African American Reference Library, Hispanic American Reference Library, and Native American Reference Library may think twice about spending another $325 to have exactly the same information on CD-ROM. However, the convenience of a one-stop search for all three databases may indeed make it worthwhile. There are more than 3,400 entries, 900 photos and maps, a glossary, and time lines "on the three most-studied ethnic groups in America."
Directions for loading the CD-ROM are very clear. There are some useful options on printing and saving, exiting the program, and screen restarting. Graphics may not be printed. Searching may be done by name, subject, time line, or custom keyword, and moving through the entries is possible by mouse or hot keys. Switching between entries is instantaneous. Only graphics seem to take too long to load and escape. As for the usefulness of the database, many students will be delighted to find information often not available in traditional sources, such as rap music, Augusta Baker, Puerto Rican immigration, Canadian Aboriginal people, and Scottsboro Case, plus literary, sports, and entertainment biographies. Coverage appears up-to-date through 1995 and is impartial, with the article on Charles Drew mentioning his accidental death but not the legend surrounding it. Sources, including books and popular periodicals, are listed at the ends of articles. Entries range from one to multiple screens (Sequoyah is 9 screens, Virginia Hamilton 16, Rita Dove 18). Switching between people and see entry topics mentioned within articles, expected by now in a CD-ROM, is not possible.
Selection is spotty. Why Keenen Ivory Wayans and not Damon? Why no Jimmy Smits or John Leguizamo? Where are Tuskegee Experiment, desegregation, or Delaware Indians? Negro Leagues brings up articles within Sports, various baseball players, and a time line entry for the Hall of Fame. Often it is not clear why certain articles come up. A search of Tuskegee Airmen leads to African American Landmarks^-Michigan, with the airmen finally mentioned under Detroit eight screens later. Trail of Tears is not an entry, and custom searching of trail and tears brings up Scottie Pippen, among more inappropriate results.
Despite its faults, this is a handy disc. Purchase for middle and high schools will depend on how much curricular use is expected and whether a library already owns and uses other UXL titles.
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