Thursday, April 7, 2011

Question of the week: War by the numbers

Often our students are looking for statistics on deaths, crimes, births, voting rates, marriages, or accidents.

This week, a Richland student needed to know the number of civilian deaths in Germany and Japan during World War II. She had searched the Internet but didn't find what she wanted, so she came to the library reference desk for an old-fashioned encyclopedia.

Moving over to the D* shelves, we pulled a couple of titles including The Oxford Companion to World War II.

It turned out that this 1301-page book was just what our student needed. Chock full of maps, lists, definitions, and photos, the alphabetical volume includes a short section called "demography of the war." This section lists war-related deaths and breaks them down into military and civilian losses.

Not near our desk or book shelves? Students across campus or off campus might want to try accessing an online reference for this type of question. The Encyclop√¶dia Britannica Online is available to current DCCCD students, faculty, and staff. 

Go to Click on the green "Databases" tab; at the next screen, click on "E"; and at the next screen, scroll down to the "Encyclopaedia Britannica" link. Click through, and log on with your school I.D.

If you search for "costs of the war," you should find an article on war-related losses.

Now back to the question: What were the costs of war?

Japan lost some 350,000 civilians during the war, and Germany lost 2,000,000; these numbers are considered unreliable, according the The Oxford Companion, so we may never know the answer.

Keep searching,

Dear, Ian, and Michael Richard. The Oxford companion to World War II. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 1995. Print.

*What are the D shelves? Great question! Richland Library uses the Library of Congress classification system to shelve books, and D is the section in which books about world history and the history of Europe are shelved.

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