Monday, September 8, 2008

Europa World Year Book


The Europa World Year Book has long been one of my favorite reference sources both for the quality and depth of the information provided and its ease of use. It is updated yearly in two volumes and costs $1320 per year. So, of course, the questions are, do we use it enough to justify the price, and how much of this information is easily available on the internet or within our databases.

The entries are arranged alphabetically by country, and each follows the same format: for each country there is an introductory survey, followed by a statistical survey, and then a directory. There is also a 475 page section on international organizations (which I didn't know was there, and have never used).
Within our databases, Facts on File World Atlas has a nice summary for each country and Britannica Online also has good country information, but neither has the depth of information included in Europa's statistical survey and directory sections. Online, the best and most complete information I could find was the US Department of State's Background Notes (and, of course, Wikipedia).
Let me know what you think.

8 comments:

Kristin said...

I know, I know. I'm supposed to say something like, we can find information from other online free sources, but...I love this resource! Yes, the Department of State's site is a good alternative in some respects, but the entries in Europa are quite in-depth; the statistics are rich, interesting and varied; and, really, this is a valuable reference resource. Sure, we might be able to come up with other resources to help someone with a report on a country, but this one is so well detailed and executed, covering historical and contemporary issues, as well as providing local media directories. I know it's expensive, but, please, may we keep it?

Catherine Harper said...

I’m with Kristin. This is one of those times when high cost reflects high value: 5,000 pages of detailed, easy-to-find information. Whenever someone asks me for current (emphasis on current) information on a foreign country, I recommend that they use Europa as their starting point. This is especially so if they are looking for statistics, but Europa is also great for current political and economic affairs (it goes into much more detail than Background Notes and CIA World Factbook, or even Wikipedia, and my sense is that it can be trusted to be more up-to-date than the encyclopedias, though I haven’t actually done a close comparison). What’s more, its directory section includes not just government agencies, but also major publishers, telecommunications service providers, print and broadcast media, and religious bodies. Contact information is always provided, in addition to web URLs in some cases.

The section on international organizations is equally useful. Case in point, there’s more up-to-date information here about the UN system than we have in any other one source (160+ pages), possibly including the UN’s web site (if all this information is available on their site, it’s a whole lot harder to find). Not surprisingly, given it’s UK publisher, the writeup on the EU in Europa is also quite long and detailed (60+ pages). While the entries for other organizations such as OPEC, the World Bank, the IOC, the International Red Cross and NATO, are relatively short, they’re still quite informative.

I’d be very sorry to see this one go. I'd even resist getting it every other year, since the currency of its data is one of its primary assets. Before we did that, I’d urge that we look for other ways to save the money. If push came to shove, there are lots of things I'd vote to drop before forgoing the latest edition of Europa. (That's a comment on how much I like Europa, not on how little I value the other sources.)

Romina said...

We can find this information online, at least some of it, but it will not be as concise or as neatly organized as in these two volumes. I particularly like the first section that outlines and gives information about International Organizations. I think this is keeper. We might want to consider getting the online version as well or lieu of the print. Just to add to our list of where to find country information try the following United Nations site, geared more towards school age children: http://cyberschoolbus.un.org/

barbara said...

I'm with the rest of the crew on this one. Europa is infitely more fleshed out than the CIA Factbook.
The sections on infrastructure - Press, Publishers,Communication, Finance, Trade... are particularly useful, well organized and difficult to find elsewhere. A resounding keeper.

mlh said...

I love this set, do I sound like an echo???? There's not much to say that hasn't been said. mlh

Jane said...

From LCA: I think this is one print reference book we should keep. I like it and have found it especially good for students. It is easy to use and there is so much useful information in one source.

Jane said...

GS says: Sometimes it's great to go last. I can't write my comments nearly as eloquently as Catherine did on the usefulness of this resource so I will just ditto hers. Even though I currently don't use it as much as I have in the past, I did use it yesterday for a QandANJ question. I was reminded again just how wonderful print sources can be when all the information you want is on few pages and you don't have to go digging through a website or a series of websites to pull it all together. We really should encourage students to use this book more often instead of having them rely on the World Factbook for country information.

Jane said...

It's unanimous. Europa World Yearbook is staying, and every year. Thanks for your helpful comments.