Library of the Future Series: Second Edition. (data base) (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications) (Evaluation)
by David English
Imagine putting over 2000 pieces of literature, drama, philosophy, poetry, religion, history, science, and children's classics on a single CD-ROM. All the plays of Shakespeare, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Anna Karenina, the complete Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (that's 53 titles), Homer's Illiad and Odyssey, all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories (60 titles), 57 stories by Hans Christian Andersen, "The Declaration of Independence" and "The Constitution of the United States," essays and biographies by Plutarch, poems by Keats, fables by Aesop, and much, much more. It's a CD-ROM full of the great writing you promised yourself you would read someday, and it's called Library of the Future Series: Second Edition (World Library, 12914 Haster Street, Garden Grove, California 92640; 714-748-7198; $399).
Why would anyone want these books on CD-ROM instead of the traditional--and more portable--book form? For one thing, you couldn't buy all those books for $399 (in fact, the CD-ROM costs even less when you buy it mail order). Of course, you could spend the same money on the books you especially like and forget about the rest.
The real reason to buy this product is its ability to perform powerful searches. You can view the table of contents by title or author, and search by time (historical age, era, or century) or place (world region or country). You can use and and or searches for specific words, allowing you to find any work that contains the phrase "political science" or any work that contains the words "political" and "science" anywhere in its text. Search for the words "kill," "all," and "lawyers" in the plays of Shakespeare and you can turn up the often misquoted phrase, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."
Each work includes a brief description of the title and author. You can print or save to disk any part of a work (Hamlet occupies 360K on your hard drive). In addition, this latest version (version 4.01) includes 150 of the original illustrations, including Sir John Tenniel's familiar drawings for Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Assuming you like the idea of a CD-ROM based library in the first place, you can't buy a better collection on CD-ROM. With this CD-ROM and the Oxford English Dictionary CD-ROM, you could keep yourself quite busy on the proverbial desert island.