The electronic reference book revolution is in full swing, and nearly every reference book publisher is on board with the latest titles and interfaces for searching and retrieving top-notch scholarly resources. But which product will best suit your library? Which product has the best access and search features? And what about price-should you look for ownership or a subscription service? To assist with the reference e-book dilemma, this article examines five major electronic reference book products-ABC-CLlO's History Reference Online, Gale Virtual Reference Library, Greenwood Digital Collection, Oxford Reference Online, and Xreferplus-and compares them for content, search capabilities, interface, special features, and pricing. Each product has strengths, weaknesses, and unique bells and whistles. As one would expect, all of the products have similarities, including 24/7 unlimited simultaneous user access from the library remotely; keyword searching across the entire collection or on one title, plus browsing options; persistent links at multiple levels, including the book title and entry heading; downloadable MARC records; and entries and indexes that are indexed in Reference Universe, a unique database that searches the content of both print and electronic reference materials. So, what makes them unique? The answer is content, interface, and special search and retrieval features, all of which are described in the individual reviews below and the comparison chart on p.94. These products were reviewed in July 2006 (numbers were updated in September), and, unless otherwise noted, pricing information is based on a four-year college or university with 5,000 FTE.
(2006). Options for the E-reference Collection. Booklist, 103 (5), 93-95.