Oxford Reference Online
First published November 1, 2006 (Booklist).
Oxford Reference Online (ORO), a scholarly reference database, contains more than 100 quick-reference titles in nearly every field. Two collections are available, the core collection, containing the more than 113 quick-reference titles, and the premium collection, containing the former plus in-depth entries from the Oxford Companion series, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, illustrations, maps, tables, time lines, bibliographies, and external Web links. Users can search or browse ORO on three levels: the entire collection, a subject area (e.g., economics, history), or a single reference title. Quick and advanced search are available along with several browsing options. Quick search searches for matches in entry headings first. If none are available, ORO’s intelligent search feature widens the search to full text and finally to pattern and stem searching (various spellings and word prefixes and suffixes). The Widen Search feature may be user initiated on the results pages. Advanced searches allow search limits to full text, entry headings, people, and dates. Limits to a specific subject area and type of search (standard, Boolean, or pattern) are also included. Individual entries include full text and illustrations if available, links to see also references within the title, browse next and previous entries, an e-mail option, and the entry citation in modified MLA format. Options for printing, exporting, or selecting the style format are not yet available. Once users begin to navigate away from the results page, it is difficult to get back. A cross-referencing tool allows users to highlight a word in the full text and locate this word in other ORO titles. Oxford is currently working to add more cross-book-linking features.
Several special features are found in the Premium Collection: a time line of twentieth-century events with links to individual entries; political, physical, or locator maps from around the world; external Web links at the subject or book level; and illustrations from visual dictionaries. A downloadable browser search box provides easy access to the collection. ORO is a subscription collection; titles are not owned by the library. Pricing is $2,900 for the Premium Collection and $2,275 for the Core Collection. Concurrent user pricing is also an option. Add-on collections for Western Civilization and Literature are available for additional fees. Libraries that wish to own content should investigate Oxford’s Digital Reference Shelf product. – Sue Polanka