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ILS 504 – 01 Reference and Information Resources and Services

Exercise 3: Ready Reference - Compare Search Results

October 27, 2008


Question 1:      Who won the first World Series? What year?

User group:     A 5th Grade Boston Red Sox fan who has a bet with his best friend.

Answer:             In 1903, the Boston Red Sox beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5 to 3 in a nine-game series.


A 5th grade student can use the ChildrenÕs Department of their local public library to satisfy their curiosity or to quickly win a bet. Derby Neck LibraryÕs ChildrenÕs Reference Section has two encyclopedias, The World Book Encyclopedia and The New Book of Knowledge. In order to locate the correct encyclopedic volume, The World Book and The New World BookÕs indexes directed the search to the subject specific volume for baseball. Both encyclopediasÕ baseball articles included history, how to score a game, throw a baseball, etc. The user has to search for the answer within the body of the text of both sources unlike The New World Book which includes a chart of World Series winners from 1903 to 2001. For this type of question, the 5th Grader would have probably ended their search here. As another print source was required, the search would continue in Main ReferenceÕs sports section. Of the several print ready reference sources available, The Statistical Encyclopedia of North American Sports has an easy-to-search yearly layout despite not having an index. All three print sources were adequate for the type of research and agreed that the Boston Red Sox won the first World Series in 1903.


To locate three electronic resources, I began my search on Derby Neck LibraryÕs ChildrenÕs electronic online resources and selected KidsClick!. The first easily located sources were The Baseball Almanac and The Sporting News. Both indicated the Boston Red Sox beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, but The Sporting News Web site clarified that the Red Sox were also known as the Pilgrims, Puritans and Americans. As the paper sources confirmed the first World Series was played in 1903, I chose The Baseball Almanac because its description said it provides articles from 1903 to the present and it is easy to search by year. In The Sporting News Web siteÕs Main Page search area, I input Òfirst World SeriesÓ and was directed to a page linked to the archives and the History of the World Series. Although this information would have been adequate for a 5th Grader, I chose Encyclopedia Britannica whose first paragraph on the World Series Main Page supports the Red Sox beating the Pirates.


Based on the userÕs search request, locating the information in the first two print sources was as easy as locating the information in the ChildrenÕs Online Reference database. Locating the Main Reference sports section and then The Statistical Encyclopedia was a slightly longer process. However this print source was the right resource to locate the answer quickly within it. The electronic sources clarified how many different names the Boston Red Sox were called and all supported the fact that the Red Sox won the first World Series. (Back to the top)


Question #2:   When was the first Presidential debate? Between who and who ultimately won the election?

User:                   5th grade Current Events homework assignment.

Answer:            1948, Thomas Dewey v. Harold Stassen.


As the research was for a 5th GradersÕ homework assignment, I began the search in the ChildrenÕs Reference section with The World Book Encyclopedia. When looking up debates, the encyclopedic index referred the user to the Volume 12, L, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates. However these debates were for a seat in the U.S. Senate and, although showed Lincoln as a viable Republican presidential candidate, they werenÕt for the actual presidency. When switching to Presidential debates, the index referred the user to Volume 11, J-K, John F. Kennedy. The article stated that the Kennedy-Nixon televised debates in 1960 were the first presidential debates and were instrumental in President Kennedy winning the 1960 election. Further research in Famous First Facts and The PeopleÕs Almanac presents The Twentieth Century supported this finding. Locating the correct information in World Book and The 20th Century took time as the information was within the body of the text. Famous First Facts had a chapter for Government and Politics and numbered each fact, which reduced the search time.


Locating the answer in electronic sources was more time consuming and ultimately provided the correct answer. The 5th Grader found the same answers in the ChildrenÕs Online Reference database as found in print, but wanted to be sure that there wasnÕt any earlier presidential debate. For this type of search, the 5th Grader asked the Reference Librarian for help. Derby Neck Library subscribes to www.ipl.org so I selected The Columbia Encyclopedia: Sixth Edition. The online version is laid out similarly to World BookÕs print version in which the user had to read through much text to locate the Kennedy-Nixon debates. When searching other Online ready reference sources, the 1960 debates were noted as the first televised presidential debate. But as the research showed there were debates for Senate seats, the user was not satisfied that there wasnÕt any earlier record than 1960. The search led to Subject Collections in www.ipl.org. The Law, Government & political science sub-heading led the search to the National Archives Web site (www.ourdocuments.gov) which the user hoped would provide records of an earlier debate however the National Archives Web site supported previous findings for the Kennedy-Nixon debates. The last on-line resource was www.iTools.com. Using first presidential debate without quotation marks in the search area, I found the General Resources Commission on Presidential Debates debate history Web site This keyword search brought up one page only that concisely confirmed that the Lincoln-Douglas debates set the stage for LincolnÕs presidential run, however the only public debates among presidential candidates prior to 1960 were in 1948 and 1956. The following chart from the National ArchivesÕ Web site (2008) provides the details of the 1948 debate between Thomas Dewey, New York Governor, and Harold Stassen, Former Minnesota Governor.



May 17, 1948


KEX-ABC Radio Station


Portland, OR




Between 40 and 80 million


One hour


Radio debate with 20 minute opening statements; eight and a half minute rebuttals.


Outlawing the Communist party in the U.S. This was the first and last presidential debate limited to a single issue.

The 1948 presidential election was a three-way race between Thomas Dewey (R), Senator Strom Thurmon (Dixiecrat), and Harry S. Truman (D). Truman won the election (Eagleton Institute of Politics, 2004).


The user group was the same for both questions however question number two required additional investigation to verify information as there were conflicting and misleading answers. After defining the correct keyword search, presidential debate, all print and most of the electronic resources supported the generally held opinion that the Kennedy-Nixon debates were the first presidential debates. Based on these findings, the 5th Grader could have stopped their search. However the possibility that the first presidential debates only occurred in 1960 didnÕt seem plausible. With an experienced Reference LibrarianÕs assistance, the user learned how to assess Web sitesÕ validity and to navigate online reference resources to locate the ultimate answer on a trustworthy Web site (Back to the top)


1903 World Series Boston American (5) Pittsburgh Pirates (3). Baseball Almanac. 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008 from http://www.baseball-almanac.com/ws/yr1903ws.shtml.

Debate History. 2004. General Resources Commission on Presidential Debates. Retrieved October 13, 2008 from http://www.debates.org/pages/history.html.

Electronic Government Project. 1948 Truman-Dewey Election. 2004. Eagleton Institute of Politics
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Retrieved October 15, 2008 from http://www.eagleton.rutgers.edu/e-gov/e-politicalarchive-1948election.htm.

History of the World Series – 1903. 2002. The Sporting News: Baseball History of the World Series – Retrieved October 8, 2008 from http://www.sportingnews.com/archives/worldseries/1903.html

Kane, J.N., S. Anzovin & J. Podell. Famous First Facts 6th Ed. 2006. ÒFact #3824. Presidential election debates to be shown on televisionÓ. H.W.Wilson & Co.: New York.

Kennedy, John FÓ The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2007. Columbia University Press: New York. Retrieved October 8, 2008 from http://www.bartleby.com/65/ke/KennedyJF.html.

The National Archives Document for September 26th: 
First Kennedy-Nixon Debate September 26, 1960. N.d. The National Archives. Retrieved October 8, 2008 from http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/todays-doc/index.html?dod-date=926.

The World Book Encyclopedia. Vol. 11 J, K. 2003. World Book, Inc.: Chicago, IL.

Wallechinsky, D. The PeopleÕs Almanac presents The Twentieth Century. 1995. Little Brown & Co.: Boston, MA.

World Series. (2008). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved October 21, 2008, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/648619/World-Series. (Back to the top)

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