VOLUME 31, NUMBER 29 THURSDAY, April 27, 2000

From Edward Abbey to Paul Zindel: The Literature Resource Center

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The Gale group has played to its strengths in producing the Literature Resource Center (LRC) http://www.galenet.com/servlet/LitRC/, a gateway to entries from many of its literary staples: contemporary authors, the dictionary of literary biography and selections from its many series of criticism (contemporary literary criticism, poetry criticism, etc.).

Geared towards undergraduates, the LRC is an electronic, mostly full-text version of Gale publications, making it a one-stop resource for information on authors and their works. LRC contains full-text biographical, bibliographical and critical information, as well as current, full-text critical material from more than 30 literary journals, including American Poetry Review, Criticism, MELUS, Review of Contemporary Fiction, and World Literature Today. LRC also provides more than 4,000 plot synopses and links to more than 5,000 Web sites on major authors and their works. In addition, the LRC contains the "Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature"-which covers literary figures and genres, critical terms, mythological figures and literary prizes-and a useful guide to writing a literary research paper, including how to cite the various types of information one finds in LRC.

LRC has a generous search capability; you can search by author and title, or you can design your own custom search or do a full-text search. The information in LRC varies from author to author. About 2,500 authors have been selected-from the 100,000 the database covers-as the most-studied authors in an undergraduate curriculum. For these authors, LRC provides in-depth coverage, including links to documents containing biographical, critical and bibliographic information; plot overviews; Internet resources, and full-text articles from scholarly journals. For other authors, biographical and bibliographical information is given, as well as links to current journal articles. You can also search for authors and works associated with various themes, from the afterlife to Zionism, genres from antislavery literature to "yellow journalism," and literary movements/time periods from Afro-Cubanism to the Victorian period.

The only drawback to LRC is that the entire database is not regularly updated, so bibliographies may not include the author's most recent works. This produces unusual results: For example, the bibliography provided for Jane Smiley does not list her most recent novel, "Horse Heaven," although LRC does provide full-text book reviews for the novel.

Future plans for LRC include adding in-depth coverage for more authors, integrating full-text content from the Scribner Writers and Twayne Author series, updating biographies and bibliographies, incorporating online discussion groups and providing links to local library holdings.

-Austin Booth and Nina Cascio, University Libraries

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