For almost 100 years, chemistry scholars have been forming bonds with what's variously and fondly referred to as the "Rubber Book," the "Rubber Bible" or simply the "The Handbook." Officially, we're talking about that big, trusty, and information-packed reference book, the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Currently in its 90th edition, the "Handbook" has undergone an almost continuous series of annual revisions since the first edition was published in 1913 by the Chemical Rubber Company of Cleveland, Ohio.
The CRC Handbook's origins owe to an enterprising chemistry student, Arthur Friedman, at the Case School of Applied Science (now Case Western Reserve University). To help make his way through school, Arthur, along with his brothers, set up a small operation in a back room of their father's clothing store to manufacture and supply rubber protective aprons to fellow chemistry students.1 The rubber aprons quickly became a hot item, and in response to demand from other schools, the business grew rapidly, prompting the formation of The Chemical Rubber Company. By 1913, upon the recommendation of friends and colleagues, the company published a "small but comprehensive book of reference on chemical and physical topics."2 It was designed to fit neatly into the pockets of the rubber aprons, and was made available at $2.00 apiece, or free to those making multiple apron purchases.3
Eighty nine editions and almost a century later, what began as a handy 116-page pocket-reference book has since grown to a mighty 2,804 page tome.4 But even though the Handbook has long since outgrown an apron pocket, chemists and non-chemists alike (including librarians) retain a strong desire to keep this reference close at hand. In fact, so useful has the Rubber Book become, that any chemistry department worth its salt wouldn't be without one, and recent editions can be found bouncing around libraries, chemistry labs, faculty offices & homes all over the country!
So you may well ask: Since it’s so useful, why doesn't the library provide an electronic version that can be accessed anytime, anywhere?
Well, we’re pleased to announce that all DePaul students and faculty (with or without rubber aprons!) can now keep the CRC Handbook even closer at hand, via our new electronic subscription:
You can also find this link through the Chemistry Research Guide, the A-Z Databases list, or by simply typing "CRC Handbook" in the library website search box. Unlike the printed version, the online CRC Handbook offers text and interactive table searching, and also searching by chemical structure, through its freely downloadable Marvin Sketch Java Applet.
For devotees of the print format, DePaul will be retaining its most recent print edition in the Lincoln Park Reference Collection. Earlier print editions are available for check-out in the main library stacks: 541.9 H236a
So, if you're looking for a convenient way to explore basic chemical or physical data, or you just want to browse the vast and beautifully organized assortment of chemical facts and references, the newly-provided online CRC Handbook may be for you!
Meanwhile, feel free to Ask A Librarian if you have any questions relating to this, or any other resource connected with your scholarly and research interests!
1. CRC Press, Inc. (n.d.) In The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Retrieved from http://ech.cwru.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=CPI1
2. Lide, D. R. (2004). Preface to CRC Handbook of Chemistry & Physics Facsimile First Edition. In Lide, D. R. (Ed.), CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Retrieved from http://books.google.com at http://tinyurl.com/2voymm2.
3. CRC Press (n.d.). Corporate History. CRC Press Online. Retrieved from http://220.127.116.11/managed_content/corporate/page.jsf?contentPath=/home/about/01%20Corporate%20History.html
4. Lide, David R. & Haynes, W. M. (Eds.), (2009). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Boca Raton: CRC Press, Inc.