Internet Resources: August 2019 Issue

Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the August issue of Choice.

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American Indian Newspapers. Adam Matthew, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

“A rich collection, American Indian Newspapers (AIN) offers a unique look at how news was reported by and to Native American communities across the US and Canada over the course of the last two centuries,” wrote Daniel W. Jolley for ccAdvisor. Adam Matthew contacted hundreds of publishers and tribal councils to find those willing to enter into digitization agreements for sharing their collections in this central database. The result is 45 titles covering the years from 1828 to 2016 in such areas as Alaska, British Columbia, Hawaii, Georgia, North Carolina, and various states across central and western US—43 publication locations in all. Along with English language newspapers are titles published in the Chinuk Wawa, Dakota, Diné Bizaad, Lakota, Sm’algyax, and Ōlelo Hawaiʻi languages. Notable titles include Cherokee Phoenix (Cherokee Advocate) and Cherokee VoicesHopi Action NewsNavajo Times, and Osage News. Many of the titles began publication in the turbulent 1970s and so reflect the voices of more contemporary Native American tribes and communities that mattered to them. Among topics are tribal laws and elections, land rights, sovereignty, environmentalism, the preservation of local culture and language, and political activism and protest. Older newspapers provide a unique take on historical events and local political and cultural happenings among various tribes. “AIN offers a unique, firsthand perspective on indigenous life and culture and will be a rich resource for programs supporting Native American studies,” Jolley wrote. To read the complete review, go to Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. Stoehr, CHOICE

ProQuest One Academic. ProQuest, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

“As an aggregate of four core multidisciplinary databases, ProQuest One Academic is described in its product brochure as ‘the world’s largest curated collection of journals, ebooks, dissertations, news, video and primary sources,’” wrote Amanda Kraft for ccAdvisor. This familiar, all-in-one search interface provides access to ProQuest Central, Academic Complete, Academic Video Online, and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. “Essentially, ProQuest is offering a wide variety of source types used for academic research in a single, cross-searchable platform, and continues to deliver the award-winning usability librarians and library users have come to expect,” Kraft wrote. By now most librarians and library users are well accustomed to the concept of federated searching in aggregated databases like ProQuest One Academic. After nearly a decade since web-scale discovery services first became available, all-in-one searching as a concept is popular among academic and research libraries and is widely employed by library users, even if they are not immediately aware of it. As a research and instruction librarian with multidisciplinary teaching duties and liaison responsibilities, it is this reviewer’s critical evaluation that this product offers both substance and style. “ProQuest is about an intuitive as it gets,” Kraft wrote. To read the complete review, go to Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. Stoehr, CHOICE

Routledge History of Economic Thought. Routledge, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

Routledge Historical Resources: History of Economic Thought (HET) is an online platform of curated Taylor & Francis-owned content,” wrote Sara F. Hess for ccAdvisor. Journal articles, essays, and primary and secondary source documents cover economic thought in the period from 1700 through 1914. HET covers major economic schools of thought, including classical political economy, the Enlightenment, and socialism. These currents are used along with notable figures, time periods, and topics—including money and banking, public economics, poverty, and economic crises—to categorize documents. The browsing functionality in HET is user-friendly and makes use of faceted searching. HET’s most glaring flaw “is the lack of a machine-readable text alternative for some primary source documents that are rendered as PDF facsimiles of the original documents,” Hess wrote. “These PDFs impede not only researchers using assistive technology but also users attempting to search the full text of those documents.” The lack of available machine-readable text for content appearing as a facsimile of original documents is a major weakness of an otherwise user-friendly product. The display of documents as images with no machine-encoded text renders these documents effectively useless to anyone who relies on assistive technology. Moreover, the full text of any work appearing as facsimile cannot be searched. Users therefore must rely on metadata available on the platform to locate documents of interest. Whereas the metadata associated with each piece appears to be extensive and robust, “the inability to perform full-text searches of a portion of the available content undermines the platform’s utility,” Hess wrote. To read the complete review, go to Summing Up: Optional. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. Stoehr, CHOICE

The Routledge Performance Archive. Routledge, 2019. Pricing ranges from $3,400 to $5,600.

“Capturing the esoteric community of international performance art, Routledge Performance Archive (RPA) comprises entries on dozens of entities, from historical to contemporary, enriched by commentaries by experts,” wrote Joe Badics for ccAdvisor. The world of dance, theater, and performance is represented within eight subjects, including workshops, rehearsals, master classes, interviews, and performances. The variety of the content is impressive, and the product is likely to evolve as new content is added. Capturing dance and theater interviews, classes, and rehearsals for future use is admirable. The commentaries and explanations are what set RPA apart from a source like Kanopy. The user will learn just by perusing. But this reviewer has some concerns, as follows: “users unfamiliar with the particular language of performance art may find not find the general search intuitive,” Badics wrote, “and some keywords may bring up only one result.” Using one of three browse headings is probably best for nonspecialists. In addition, and not unexpectedly, “the video quality varies from entry to entry,” Badics wrote. Transcripts should be available for non-print entries, not just some. The “Practitioners” and “Commentators” are arranged alphabetically, but some are alphabetized by last name and some are alphabetized by first name; “this is sloppy editing and can easily be fixed,” Badics wrote. Finally, North American users looking for local content should be aware that this is an international resource, with particularly strong representation from Europe. Though the spectrum of practitioners covered is impressive, “RPA is still limited,” Badics wrote. To read the complete review, go to Summing Up: Optional. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. Stoehr, CHOICE

Social Explorer. Social Explorer, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

Social Explorer is a mapping and data visualization program that creates custom maps, reports, and presentations from a wide array of survey sources,” wrote Michael Hughes for ccAdvisor. Though most of its underlying data are published free of charge, Social Explorer adds interpretative value by turning complex data into visual abstractions that aid comprehension. Its presentation and report options help users to compare and contrast data or put them into sociohistorical context, and all in an attractive and thoughtful interface that never overwhelms the user. “If Social Explorer’s chief virtue is ease of use, it comes at the cost of specialization,” Hughes wrote. Microdata, “untabulated records about individual people or housing units,” is not supported (US Census Bureau 2016), and some geographies, such as those “found in print reports for the older decennial censuses or in the National Historical GIS, are not available in Social Explorer,” nor is the Dubester set of “non-decennial (intercensal) data from 1790 to 1944.” For hardcore data analysts, this lack may prove a deal breaker, but it’s doubtful that Social Explorer has this sort of customer in mind. It is demography for dummies, or if that’s too reductive, call it data visualization for the rest of us. It’s a product as welcome in a high school classroom as the pages of The New York TimesExplorer’s power lies not in the granularity of its data manipulation, though what’s here is remarkable. Rather, it lies in the software’s transmogrifying effect on intimidating data. It transforms eye-glazing rows of dry statistics into vibrant maps full of meaning. “It awakens curiosity,” Hughes wrote. “It makes census data, dare I say, exciting.” To read the complete review, go to Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. Stoehr, CHOICE

World Who’s Who. Routledge, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

World Who’s Who (WWW) pulls together biographies of approximately 70,000 individuals in a variety of fields,” writes Sarah Wenzel for ccAdvisor. Entries include nationality, profession, date and place of birth/death, education, and so on. The interface imitates a print book in many ways; however, that does not impede searching for and discovering the included information. The database provides basic information about famous individuals in a variety of fields and does a good job of covering countries that are not always included in such works, e.g., Haiti or Malta. WWW is strongest in the fields covered by the volumes that make up the database (e.g., literature and music) and weakest in areas those volumes don’t cover (e.g., art, graphic novels). Users must always keep in mind that in the majority of cases, some portion of an entry is submitted by the subject of the entry. “Though records are updated on a daily basis (the most recent updates appear on the home page), some records of important figures—Jean Marie Le Pen, for example—have clearly not been updated in a timely fashion,” Wenzel writes. “Osmo Vänskä’s Mahler project is not included, and the record indicates that he ceased directing the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra in 2011.” Overall, the database is good for basic information about well-known people (and some not-so-famous in music and literature) from around the world. The interface is not the easiest to use, but it does not impede searching for and discovering information. To read Wenzel’s complete review, go to Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. Stoehr, CHOICE