Student Reference Library
Mindscape offers the Student Reference Library (jr. high & up), a product of subtle charms that errs slightly on the side of quantity over quality. This ambitious CD-ROM packs a lot onto a single disc, including an almanac, an encyclopedia, a quotation library, a dictionary, and a guide to style. We call its charms subtle because Student Reference Library makes little effort to dazzle with conventional digital glitz – photographs, for example, don’t automatically pop up when they’re available; instead you must request them. This speeds things right along, and puts a welcome emphasis on text. If only there was more text to be emphasized. Certain sections of the program are more in-depth than you might expect (the quotations library alone kept us occupied for hours), while others are shamefully skimpy (it’s difficult to find more than a few sentences on any contemporary writer or musician). All of the various sources are bound together with a search function, while only some of them offer tables of contents. A few thoughtful extras, like an online link and suggested research topics for students, help make the disc stand out from the crowd. It’s not comprehensive enough to be of much help when writing a serious research paper, but it is comprehensive enough to be useful when you’re trying to settle a bet with friends.
– August 1996