January 8, 2007

Services & collections for engineering

At the beginning of December, Lori Gluckman of SUNY Maritime College asked a question on the ELD-L list on building collections and services to satisfy engineering accreditation requirements:

I'm wondering if anyone can recommend any specific resources regarding librarianship within the engineering discipline and the profession of engineering in general. Also:

  • Within the health sciences, there tend to be "standard lists" of what a specific-size library should have (e.g., community hospital vs. large academic medical center). Is there anything similar in the engineering library discipline?
  • In terms of ABET and other accrediting agencies within the field, are there specific standards in terms of what our libraries should incorporate into the colleciton?
  • I'm trying to get up to speed in terms of what the most widely used and helpful abstracting/indexing services/databases are within the field. I've heard about compendex and web of science, but was wondering if you had to go with just a few, which databases were the most useful.

Any advice that you could provide for a newbie to this area would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to becoming more involved in the Engineering Libraries Division.

Lori has kindly agreed to let me reprint the summary of responses she posted on ELD-L last week, for the benefit of us all:
In terms of ABET, the concensus was that there are no standards set by the accreditation body for what services or sources an engineering library should provide, although there is indication that the Engineering Libraries Division has been working on this issue for some time.

Note that it's important to have contacts with federal labs and other engineering libraries across the country to locate obscure government literature, difficult standards, patent literature and resources within the area of grey literature.

Although no one list of recommended titles and/or resources for engineering collections is recognized, several publications were recommended to me, which may be of assistance:

  • Information Sources in Engineering, 4th ed., edited by Roderick A. MacLeod and Jim Corlett. M√ľnchen : K.G. Saur, 2005.>This won the ELD "Best Reference Work" award for 2006 - http://eld.lib.ucdavis.edu/awards.php#reference
  • Engineering libraries : building collections and delivering services / Thomas W. Conkling, Linda R. Musser, editors. Binghamton, N.Y. : Haworth Information Press, 2001. Co-published simultaneously as Science & technology libraries, v. 19, nos. 3/4, 2001.
  • Information and the professional scientist and engineer / Virginia Baldwin, Julie Hallmark, editors. Binghamton, NY : Haworth Information Press, 2003. Co-published simultaneously as Science & Technology Libraries, v. 21, nos. 3/4, 2003.
  • Powell, Russell H.,1943-, Core list of books and journals in science and technology / Phoenix, Ariz. : Oryx Press, 1987.
  • Hightower and Schwarzwalder (DATABASE Magazine, 1991) for a dated, but comprehensive review of materials sciences databases.

In term of abstracting/indexing services/databases within the field, the following were recommended:

  • Compendex database (EI Engineering Abstracts)--strong for mechanical and civil engineering.
  • INSPEC--Useful for electrical engineering, computer science and materials science programs.
  • ACM Guide/ACM Digital Library--computer science.
  • Web of Science--useful for most topics in engineering, although feedback that Web of Science may not be worth the expense and investment if obtained at the expense of other resources.
  • Scopus--a new general purpose database from Elsevier that is competitve to the Web of Science.
  • SciFinder Scholar--good coverage of chemical engineering, environmental engineering, and materials science.

Other resources to consider:

  • Applied Science and Technology Index
  • ASCE Civil Engineering Database
  • Computer & Information Systems Abstracts
  • Electronics & Communications Abstracts
  • Engineered Materials Abstracts
  • GeoRef
  • IEEE Xplore (All-Society Periodicals Package)
  • MathSciNet
  • Mechanical Engineering Abstracts
  • METADEX (Metals & Alloys)
  • Science Citation Index
  • Solid State & Superconductivity Abstracts
  • Knovel (e-books and interactive tools)
  • ILI Standards Infobase--As per the database's website, "The ILI standards database is the leading bibliographic standards database. It covers over 600,000 worldwide standards. Coverage extends across the industrialised world."
  • IHS Engineering
  • NTIS via CSA (technical reports)
  • espacenet (patents)
  • PubMed

Thanks go to all those who responded, including: Tom Volkening, Karen Andrews, Kevin Drees, Jessica Patterson, Bruce Antelman, Joseph Kraus, Kate Thomes, Dr. Robert Schwarzwalder, Amanda Werhane and Larry Thompson.

Thanks, Lori!

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