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English KeyLinking: A Strategy

KeyLink destinations are based on topics encoded inside the resources. Thus any book that has English language topics is theoretically a valid KeyLink destination for English text. This means that the number of books listed as possible KeyLink destinations for English in your KeyLink Options dialog could be quite large, depending on the size of your library, but usually you want to KeyLink to a dictionary or an encyclopedia. Since each individual's library might have a different selection of dictionaries and encyclopedias available, this article will present guidelines for a KeyLink strategy, rather than recommending a specific order of particular resources.

When I execute a KeyLink, I want the most comprehensive entry returned. If I execute a KeyLink on the word 'camel', I'd rather get an entry in a Bible dictionary talking about the history of camel use in the Bible lands than an English dictionary merely informing me that 'a camel is a humped mammal'. It's very useful to have resources like the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary so that if a word doesn't appear in your specialized dictionaries, you can still look it up using KeyLinking, but I promote Bible dictionaries over English dictionaries to get the more comprehensive article returned first.

Likewise, general encyclopedias, such as Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, are likely to have more information on a topic than an English dictionary, so these too should be promoted higher than your general purpose dictionaries.

Larger, multi-volume dictionary sets generally have more room for individual entries, and thus provide more comprehensive coverage. For example, the six-volume Anchor Bible Dictionary or the four-volume International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised Edition will usually have more information on a given topic than a one-volume Bible dictionary, such as the Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Thus in keeping with my strategy of putting the most comprehensive entries first, I promote my multi-volume sets above my one-volume sets.

However, the Libronix Digital Library System offers many dictionaries that have very narrow, specialized scopes. One example is Brill's Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. While this is only one volume, it is so specialized on the various angels, demons and deity names that appear in scripture and related literature, that the articles in this specialized lexicon are likely to be even more comprehensive than those in the multi-volume Bible dictionaries. Therefore, my favorite specialized dictionaries get promoted even higher than my multi-volume Bible dictionaries.

If my list of available dictionaries was limited to the titles already mentioned above, I would promote them in the following order:

  1. Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible
  2. Anchor Bible Dictionary
  3. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised Edition
  4. Tyndale Bible Dictionary
  5. Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia
  6. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Then when executing a KeyLink, my most comprehensive, specific lexicons are searched first, but if they fail to return a match, the KeyLink engine runs down my list of resources from most-comprehensive to least, in the order I determined.

Below is a non-comprehensive list of some of the options available in each of the categories described above. It is worth spending some time getting familiar with each of the dictionaries in your library - perhaps the best way is to pick a few topics from both the OT and NT and then look them up in each dictionary and decide which entries best suit your needs. I find Anchor Bible Dictionary extremely useful, for example, so some of the dictionaries I've listed under 'Specialized' would not get promoted over my Anchor (a Multi-Volume Bible Dictionary) - my familiarity with the individual resources in my library allows me to bend my own guidelines slightly.

Specialized Dictionaries/Encyclopedias:

Multi-volume Bible Dictionaries/Encyclopedias:

One-Volume Bible Dictionaries/Encyclopedias:

English Language Dictionaries:

There are a number of dictionaries that I would put in a sixth category because their scope is similar to a One-Volume Bible Dictionary, but they are written from very unique perspectives. Where you would put these on your KeyLink list of preferences - or if you would promote them at all - depends on if you would want to see these unique entries more than entries from the more mainstream categories above.

Unique Perspective Dictionaries:

If a dictionary doesn't overlap in scope with other dictionaries in your library, it doesn't matter whether or not the dictionary gets promoted. For example, A Dictionary of Women in Church History (A Baker Bytes resource) doesn't share any topics with any of my Bible dictionaries, so I don't need to promote it - it is the only destination for KeyLinks from the names of woman theologians. However, if I purchase more biographical dictionaries, eventually I might start needing to promote certain biographical dictionaries above others - again, based on which resources have the most comprehensive articles.

English KeyLinkingOnce you've determined the order of your KeyLink preferences, click Tools > Options > KeyLink to open the KeyLink Options Dialog. On the KeyLinking tab, select English from the drop-down list on the right. Then select resources from the list on the lower pane by clicking them once with the mouse and then click the promote button to promote the resource to the preferred resource list. You can use the Up and Down buttons to manage your preferred list if you want to alter the order. Remember that even if you don't promote a resource, you can still scroll through it using the right arrow button from your first KeyLink destination. If you never want to use a particular resource as a KeyLink destination, uncheck the box next to that resource in the lower right-hand pane. This is especially useful if you have duplicate resources from different publishers. Click Close to finish altering your KeyLink settings.

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