Launched in December 1996, HLAS Online is the web version of the well-known Handbook of Latin American Studies. The Handbook is a massive annual annotated bibliography covering numerous subjects in the humanities and social sciences. Recently, a separate section on electronic resources has also been added. Signed bibliographic essays accompany extensive annotated bibliographies, each year comprising over 5000 citations. Since 1935, the Handbook has been an indispensable and authoritative research tool for Latin Americanists. It is also available in CD-ROM format, and via telnet to the Library of Congress's LOCIS system.
The strength of HLAS Online is quite simply the quickness and the efficiency with which relevant resources can now be identified. Users can search not only the entire span of the bibliographies from 1935 to the present, but also access preliminary data already online for future volumes not yet published. The search engine is efficient and powerful, and complex search strategies, Boolean operators, and truncation are all unnecessary. Full bibliographic records include hyperlinked subject headings which can be searched with a click of the mouse, allowing easy redirection of a search. Help screens are well designed and thorough, as is the entire site. Another feature unique to the web version is that HLAS Online is fully bilingual, so users can choose to access either a Spanish- or an English-language interface. Future plans include the development of a Portuguese interface as well.
There are some noteworthy features of the print version missing from HLAS Online. For example, the most recent bibliographic essays are not available online, and editorial overviews, lists of contributing editors, and most tables of contents are also not included. Thus, librarians inclined to rush out and cancel subscriptions to the print volumes of the Handbook in favor of HLAS Online should instead consider these as complementary resources. HLAS Online is highly recommended for quick literature searches, for remote users, and for Spanish-language access. Researchers seeking to gain a clear understanding of recent developments in a particular field will need to consult the print volumes. Both versions are vital resources for all academic or large public library collections.
Reviewer name: Susan A. Vega Garcia
Position: Reference & Minority Outreach Librarian
Institution: Iowa State University Library
E-mail address: email@example.com
Date of review: May 29, 1997