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La penna del diplomatico/
Through the Diplomatic Looking Glass



 The Internet has become an invaluable tool in bibliographic research. Access to both private and public sources is readily available through the Internet. Regretfully, research using the most famous search engines (Google or Yahoo) gives very partial results, and only for well known persons or for recently published books. Even though Google sometimes allows searches inside a digital version of a book, and it may be possible to discover titles or diplomatic authors mentioned in bibliographies of other books on related matters, one needs to investigate and develop other sources of information.

Most publishing houses have sites that provide comprehensive descriptions of the books they have published that are still in print. For books still in print, another important online source comes to mind. Amazon [http://www.amazon.com] is a large dealer with websites available in different languages for different markets (such as the UK and France ). Generally, the description of a book on an Amazon site is not limited to basic data, but contains a brief description, a photograph of the cover of the volume, and sometimes a review.

For those books no longer in print, catalogues from antique bookstores can be extremely useful. These catalogues can be helpful for discovering new titles or editions of known works published in a language different from the original. Many of these catalogues are available on the Internet.

Other private sites can be particularly useful in the search for out of print books or for information concerning them. For example, AbeBooks [http://www.abebooks.com] is one of the biggest online marketplace for books and lists over 100 million new, used, rare, and out-of-print books. At July 2007, more than 13,500 booksellers from 57 countries had listed their books on the AbeBooks site. In some cases, details or a short description of the book is provided. As well, Mare Magnum Librorum [http://www.maremagnum.com] presents a catalogue of catalogues of antique bookstores. Different versions of the site are available in different languages (Italian included).

BookFinder.com [http://www.bookfinder.com] is a search engine for many catalogues of online bookstores, including several less known sources. Other consortiums of book dealers include alibris.

The e-Bay [http://www.ebay.com] is the most famous site for online auctions. Many books are traded daily through this service. Sometime it can be a source for discovery (and for convenient purchase, of course) of books written by diplomats. This service is a particularly effective outlet for American and English book dealers.

For books not written in English, local online stores often have websites available. For instance, Internet Bookshop Italia [http://www.internetbookshop.it], Libreria Universitaria [http://www.unilibro.it], and BOL - Mondolibri [http://www.bol.it] have all been very useful for this study.

Concerning public sources, national libraries are the best starting point, although sometimes access is limited. The online catalogues of national libraries can provide information regarding new titles of given authors. For example, for this study the investigators searched the names of all Italian diplomats using the online facility of the Italian bibliographic system of national libraries [Sistema bibliografico nazionale at http://www.sbn.it]. The Italian national library system catalogue links to a thousand Italian libraries and has access to some 4.5 million bibliographic records.

One of the biggest libraries for research in international affairs is the Library of Congress in Washington [http://catalog.loc.gov]. It purportedly includes every book in English, as well as a considerable number in foreign languages. It contains about 12 million bibliographic references. Likewise, the site of the University of Queensland in Australia [http://www.library.uq.edu.au/ssah/jeast/index.html] contains links to online catalogues of other national libraries around the world. The University of California - Berkeley [http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Libweb/] maintains an important webpage containing links to libraries online. It contains some 6,600 references to sites in 115 countries. Another important source is WorldCat [http://www.worldcat.org], the world's largest bibliographic database that catalogues the content of more than 50,000 libraries in more than ninety countries. It has more than 1 billion references (in 2007).

In searching for the publications of diplomats, it is always useful to search the personal websites of diplomats. Although the number of personal websites of Italian diplomats is limited, they are generally dedicated to the publications or other activities of the author. We list a few:

Stefano Baldi - http://www.stefanobaldi.org

Massimo Baistrocchi - http://www.massimo-baistrocchi.com  

Pasquale Baldocci - http://baldi.diplomacy.edu/baldocci

Diego Brasioli http://www.diegobrasioli.net

Franco de Courten - http://www.francodecourten.it

Roberto Toscano - http://www.robertotoscano.org

Edgardo Sogno - http://www.sogno.org

We make one last, but extremely important observation. Although the Internet is a very useful tool for bibliographic study, libraries remain the best place to search for information. This is proven by the many hours that we spent in the Library of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, containing some 200,000 volumes devoted to international affairs.

Documenti Diplomatici italiani - Search Engine.


Baldi's Publications - Books for diplomats - Baldi's homepage

last update 01/02/10 - Stefano Baldi

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