Vol. 18, No. 1 (Fall, 1994)
New Haven, Connecticut
Informationsmittel für Bibliotheken (IFB): Besprechungsdienst und Berichte. Ed. by Klaus Schreiber. Berlin: Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut, 1993-. ISSN 0944-1867. Annual subscription: 64DM.
Now in its second year, the IFB is surely the best source of reviews of reference books around, in any language. The editor, Klaus Schreiber, was for almost twenty years responsible for the review section of Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie, Germany's major journal for academic librarians, which under his tenure carried reviews of over 150 reference books and bibliographies each year.
Increasingly constrained by space limitations, Schreiber obtained the backing of the Bibliotheksinstitut in Berlin to start a new journal, this one to be devoted largely to reviews. (The ZfBB continues its review section under new editorship.) The IFB reviews approximately 170 titles in each quarterly issue. Although often long and painstakingly detailed, the reviews are readable and even lively. A book on the international humanistic research institutes in Rome, for example, includes a
wonderfully informative footnote, almost half a page in length, on the sometimes difficult relationship between the Italian government and Rome's German institutes. It is an approach that exemplifies and continues a tradition of librarianship in which scholarship and "praxis" are understood as mutually reinforcing, indeed, mutually dependent.
Among its 173 reviewed titles, 47% in the most recent issue are in English, 42% are in German, 6% in Italian and 5% in French. The reviews themselves are all in German. Although Schreiber still writes many of them (the reviews in the ZfBB were almost all his), over twenty colleagues presently contribute to the new journal. The scope is very broad, including all subject areas, publishers large and small, and electronic as well as print resources. Unlike the ZfBB, the IFB is aimed at public as well as academic libraries; nonetheless, the titles reviewed in these early issues are all suitable for academic collections. Examples: Bibliografia dei fondi manoscritti della Biblioteca Vaticana, Flugschriften zum Dreißigjährigen Krieg, A History of the British National Bibliography 1950-1973, Philosophinnen-Lexikon, Lexikon deutschsprachiger Schriftsteller, Deutsche Dichter, Lexikon der Anarchie. Also included are an update on recent changes in the French trade listings, a large section reviewing library and publisher directories, another on picture archives on microfiche, and a long review of six German medical dictionaries.
Reviews always conclude with very clear bottom-line recommendations: librarians considering Das Literaturbuch: literarisches Leben in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, for example, are advised to save their Pfennige (9800 of them, in this case) and to rely instead on standards such as Blinn and Kürchner.
In addition to the reviews, the IFB carries reports on projects in progress (e.g., the new Weimarer Goethe bibliography, a historical children's literature project in Cologne) and a current-contents feature for U.S. reference book review sources such as RQ.
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