Where to find resources for extracting meaningful information from mutual fund reports, for contemporary quotations on a host of themes, and for comprehensive analysis of the government's data on demographics.
The InfoPosse -- Inc's team of crack corporate librarians -- reports each month on what's notable in the world of corporate information.
He Said, She Said: "It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations," wrote Winston Churchill in 1930. " Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently." Unlike Bartlett's, The Times Book of Quotations cuts Sir Winston off before he can deliver the plug for its competitor. That act of self-interest notwithstanding, the Times volume (HarperCollins Publishers, 2000) is a better choice for business writers and public speakers. The book is organized by themes -- such as alcohol, ambition, and advertising -- rather than by source. (When's the last time you went looking for "anything so long as it's by Emily Dickinson"?) The content, too, feels much more contemporary. For example, The Times Book of Quotations boasts 9 entries about the Internet ("We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true") and 14 entries about the media (including such pithy gems as CNN news editor Ted Kavanau's "If it bleeds, it leads"). By contrast, the word Internet doesn't even appear in Bartlett's index, and there's only one reference to media. (If you're looking for something on Medea, however, Bartlett's is the book for you.) "The Times book does have its share of dead white guys," says InfoPosse member Genevieve Foskett. "But it's a great source of material for any communicator who wants to resonate with a modern audience."
"It's better to be quotable than to be honest."
--Tom Stoppard, from The Times Book of Quotations
Census and Sensibility: With perfectly accessible works like the Harry Potter series getting their own study guides, you have to wonder why there aren't CliffsNotes for really impenetrable material -- say, for example, the results of the 2000 U.S. Census. Recognizing that the straight dope on who we are and how we live is valuable to everyone from marketers to scholars, Norris Smith has compiled a slender volume called Changing U.S. Demographics (H.W. Wilson Co., 2002) that brings together the best commentary and analysis from a variety of media sources. Among those weighing in on various slices of census data are national newspapers and magazines (the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor), trade journals ( ABA Banking Journal, Adweek), cultural and public-policy reviews ( World & I, The American Prospect), and special-interest publications ( The Advocate, Black Issues in Higher Education). "Whether you're interested in Hispanics or seniors or lesbians or suburbanites or smokers or people who try not to categorize themselves at all, Changing U.S. Demographics winnows down a terabyte of information into something succinct and usable," says InfoPosse member Lisa Guedea CarreÑo.
Mutual Fundamentals: And speaking of impenetrable, it doesn't get much worse than those dense, dry booklets that investment firms mail to their current and potential customers. Most people keep such documents lying around the house somewhere in a pile marked "Must read someday." But there's actually gold in them thar prospectuses, semiannual reports, and proxy statements, says Theo Francis, in " Looking for Nuggets in Fund Reports" ( Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2002). Francis explains the fine art of extracting information about how a fund is run, how it has performed, and what it might do down the road. For example, he advises readers to see a potential red flag if a fund waives a portion of its fees. If it does, and the waiver is set to expire, the fund's expenses could rise suddenly. "No one could make those reports interesting," says InfoPosse member Lisa Zwickey, "but Francis helps make sense of them."
The InfoPosse members are Genevieve Foskett, corporate librarian at Highsmith Inc.; Lisa Guedea CarreÑo, library director at Goshen College; Christine Klein, a corporate librarian with more than a dozen years of experience; and Lisa A. Zwickey, senior research specialist at J.J. Keller & Associates.