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Reference Book of the Week: Whitaker's Almanack

This week we are featuring a reference source that may be useful for readers interested in the United Kingdom and all things British. This week we are highlighting Whitaker's Almanac. This publication has been published annually in the United Kingdom since 1868. Like any almanac, it features a calendar, some astronomical information, anniversaries, and lists of events. However, Whitaker's Almanack also provides articles, lists, and tables. In addition to the focus on the United Kingdom, there are also sections on world information. The 2010 edition starts with a 2010 calendar, and it includes things like religious dates, UK civil holidays such as the Queen's Birthday and Commonwealth Day, and a small list of centenaries. Next we have the core of the almanack: the United Kingdom. Most of the figures and tables are drawn from the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS) and two of its publications-- the Annual Abstract of Statistics and Social Trends. For our American readers, the ONS does a lot of the work that the U.S. Census Bureau does in the United States. We must note, however, that the U.S. does not have a centralized national statistical service per se since in addition to the Census Bureau, other agencies do collect data and provide statistical services such as the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the Energy Information Administration (EIA). So, what are some of the information items about the United Kingdom you will find in Whitaker's Almanack?
  • Information on the Royal Family including a list of family members, the order of succession list (including a note on family members who lost the right to succession due to their conversions to Roman Catholicism given that you have to be in good standing with the Church of England to ascend to the throne), and list of members of the royal household with description of their duties (for instance, there is a difference between the queen's private secretary and her communications and press secretary).
  • Listing and descriptions of government departments for the United Kingdom. When available, websites are included.
  • Defence information. For example, you can see a listing of military salaries.
  • Information on the educational systems.
  • Information on religion in the UK as well as churches.
The almanack also features a section about the world with basic information on topics such as time zones, overseas travel, and a section on countries of the world. The section of country of the world can be useful if you need a quick glimpse on the details of a nation, say, you want to find out the capital and currency of Pakistan. Finally, the volume features a set of color maps and world flags, and a summary of events from the previous year is included. Basically, this book serves not only as an almanack but also as a government manual as well as a British national and world country information resource. The library has the current edition, which as of this post is the 2010, in the reference area. The call number is AY754 .W5. We do have a previous year, in this case, the 2009, in the General Collection (third floor stacks) with the same call number. Whitaker's Almanack does have an official website, which allows interested readers to purchase a copy of the book. In addition, the site does offer some history of the book as well as some trivia quizzes that can challenge some readers. Readers may also be interested in some of our other almanacs. We discussed The World Almanac and Book of Facts (AY 67 .H5 W7, most current kept in the Ready Reference shelf) and the Time Almanac (AY 64 .I55, most current kept in the Ready Reference shelf). In Texas, we have the Texas Almanac (AY 311 .D3 T5, most current kept in the Ready Reference shelf) that we discussed here.
Published by root on 09 Dec

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