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What is the Handbook of Latin American Studies?

The Handbook is a selective annotated bibliography of scholarly works on Latin America. Edited by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, the multidisciplinary Handbook alternates annually between the social sciences and the humanities. The print edition, published by the University of Texas Press, includes over 5,000 bibliographic entries each year. More than 130 leading scholars from throughout the world choose and annotate these items. Continuously published since 1935, the Handbook offers Latin Americanists an essential guide to available resources. Today, in addition to the print edition, the Handbook is available for electronic searches on CD-ROM (HLAS/CD), published by the Fundación MAPFRE América (Madrid), and via Internet on HLAS Online.

Works reviewed include books, journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers in the disciplines of Anthropology (including Archaeology, Ethnohistory and Ethnology), Art, Economics, Geography, Government and Politics, History, International Relations, Literature, Music, Philosophy, and Sociology. Starting with Volume 54, the Handbook also includes a section on Electronic Resources for Latin American Studies. In addition, some of the earlier volumes included other disciplines such as Cartography, Film, Folklore, Law, and so forth.

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How do I access HLAS Online?

HLAS Online includes records from volumes 1-59 of the print HLAS. This Web version of the Handbook is typically accessed using Netscape Navigator, IBM WebExplorer, or one of the other graphical Web browsers at the following address: There is also a text-only Web browser available on most Unix accounts, called Lynx, which works fine for accessing the predominately text-based HLAS Online. Ask your system administrator if your Unix account includes access to Lynx, or try typing "lynx" at the prompt after logging into your account (the prompt is usually a "$" or "%" symbol).

For those with Telnet or Gopher access, the most recent Handbook volumes (50-59) can be searched via the the Library of Congress Information System (LOCIS).

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What is the maximum number of documents that can be returned in a search?

You have a choice on both the basic and expert search screens as to how many documents you want in your item list of a search. The default is 100 documents, but you can change this number.

The maximum possible number of items that may be retrieved in any given search is 5000 (although you can input "9999"). However, we do not recommend this path, especially because there is no way to skip over the first records of your search (which you wouldn't want to do anyway!). If you want to see the 4500th record, you must "Next Page" through the entire item list.

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Is there an order to the search results?

Although the order of the hits list may seem random at times, there is indeed a mathematical formula which ranks results according to their relevancy to your search terms. The search engine, called Inquery, was developed by the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, which you can consult for helpful information and hints. Search results are not listed in chronological order or alphabetical order.

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How do I determine what a journal abbreviation stands for?

Most of the journals are abbreviated in the citations. You should consult the Current Journal Abbreviations List to find the full title and publication information for journals since volume 50. The Retrospective Journals List [volumes 1-49] is also accessible for searching. However, most occurrences in retro volumes (1-49) do have the full title of the journal following the abbreviation.

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How can I make acronyms, such as OAS, UN, and HAHR, appear in all capital letters in the search results, instead of appearing in capital and lowercase letters (Oas, Un, Hahr)?

You may enter a search in all lowercase or all capital letters; the results of the search will not be affected. However, for volumes 1-49 if you want OAS (or any group of letters) to appear in capitals in the bibliographic records, you must type capital letters in the search box.

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What is the difference among versions of HLAS?

For a detailed summary of the differences among the various Handbook products, you can read a paper entitled The Handbook of Latin American Studies: Its Automated History and a Comparison of Available Formats that specifically addresses the development of electronic formats and their strengths and weaknesses. There is also a chart that explains the various functions of the 3 products: HLAS Online, HLAS/CD and Genbib on LOCIS.

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How do I order the print version of the HLAS or HLAS/CD?

The Handbook of Latin American Studies has been published by the University of Texas Press (UT Press) since 1979, and is now also available on CD-ROM. To place an order for either the print volume or the HLAS/CD, contact: University of Texas Press, P.O. Box 7819, Austin, Texas 78713-7819. Telephone: 1-800-252-3206 (toll-free within the U.S. and Canada); Fax: 1-512-320-0668. Additional information on the University Texas Press can be obtained from the UT Press Home Page.

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How do I access the Handbook via telnet to the Library of Congress Information System (LOCIS)?

For most users, the monthly updates to the Handbook's website (HLAS Online) will provide excellent access to bibliographic information on recent publications.Currently citations are available to items in volumes 1-59. However, if you need the most current data, HLAS on LOCIS is updated daily. That is, new bibliographic citations are added each day.

Handbook records from volumes 50-59 reside in the GenBib database of LOCIS. To connect to LOCIS directly, we recommend researchers use TELNET:

telnet OR telnet

LOCIS accepts both 3270 and line mode (VT100 or TTY), but we recommend use of Telnet 3270. The LC applications on the Internet are a subset of LC's in-house mainframe applications (MUMS and SCORPIO), which were developed in the 1970s for 3270 connections. TTY access to these systems was added several years after they were originally implemented and does not work as well as 3270.

You can also access LOCIS from the Library of Congress Home Page.

For documentation on searching HLAS records on LOCIS, point your gopher to, select "Library of Congress Online Systems," choose "LOCIS Search Guides," then select the guide to the "Handbook of Latin American Studies."

Go to:

Library of Congress
Comments: Ask a Librarian (2/09/99)