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Introduction to Research Sources in Botany

December 15, 2009

Compiled by:
Harvey R. Brenneise, RSABG Head Librarian
Gary D. Wallace, RSABG Research Associate


    Plant systematics
    California and U.S. Western botany and horticulture (including Baja California)
    Regional and world floristic botany
    Plant anatomy, etc.


    Books  (including some personal annotated copies)
    Special Collections (“Cage”) for rare and valuable volumes of all types
    Journals and other serials
    Reference section (gazetteers, atlases, etc)
    “Binder’s Titles” (authors’ bound papers)
    Reprints (most currently unavailable)
    Nursery catalogues (historical restoration)
    Archives (garden history, collector’s field notes and notebooks, e.g. Marcus E Jones, Munz, R. F. Thorne, etc.)

Locating Books:

    What’s available in the world? Worldcat is the “union catalog” of over 10,000 libraries in the world representing over 100 million books, journals and other bibliographic items, including many but far from all journal articles.
    What’s available at RSA and Claremont? Blais is the integrated library system of Claremont, including books and serials.  Searches can be limited to RSABG.

How do I order books not here?

    LinkPlus is a “union catalog” of California/Nevada libraries, and can be accessed directly or through Blais. Books can be ordered directly and are delivered to Honnold Library (Claremont University Consortium).

    Interlibrary loan is for what can’t be found in Blais or LinkPlus. This is a free service for faculty and students, and the Honnold library staff find a source, order it, and have it delivered to Honnold.

    CBHL (for special cases and emergencies). Irene and Harvey work with the librarians of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries to find especially difficult items or deal with emergency needs.

Locating Journal Articles:

  1. Check Blais Search by the title or abbreviated title of the journal.  Blais includes both print and electronic resources from RSABG and Claremont/Honnold.
  2. Claremont list of e-journals All e-journals subscribed to by Claremont.  Most of these require authentication (last name and ID number).  Free journals are not all on this list (yet).  Some are cataloged, but it pays to look in other places as well.
  3. How do I order articles that aren’t here? Interlibrary loan. Same as for books except that most of these now will come electronically to you as .pdf files.

What’s the difference between a book, journal, serial, series and what difference does it make to me? Blais catalogs books, journal titles, and serial and series names, but not most individual journal titles, and sometimes not monographic authors and titles when in a series.  It pays to do title searches on the journal, serial or series as well as on the individual title.

Claremont electronic research databases of interest

  1. Web of Knowledge
    1. Agricola .  Bibliographic database of the National Agricultural Library (including applied biology and forestry).  1970- .  Also available directly from NAL.
    2. Biological Abstracts. Comprehensive bibliographic database covering all aspects of biology and life sciences.  1969-
    3. Medline/Pubmed. Comprehensive bibliographic database of the National Library of Medicine. 1965-  Also available directly from the National Library of Medicine.
    4. Web of Knowledge.  Citation index, can search cited articles as well as keywords of titles.  1900-
  2. RefWorks. A citation management system available free through the Claremont libraries.  Click on Quick Links from the Claremont Libraries page.

Helpful hints:

    LOOK AT ORIGINAL SOURCES (avoid compounding errors). Note all page numbers, title page, illustrations for each article may all be at the end of the issue and easily missed in referencing or copying.

    Pay close attention to correct title, author citation, page attributions, edition dates, etc.

    Flip through books and references adjacent to the one you need.

    Check unusual places such as Catalog of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico (Krombein and Hurd, 1979, QL567.1 .A1 C37 1979) which in v.3 contains an index to pollen and nectar sources…i.e. these are potential pollinators.