Internet Resources: January 2022 Edition
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the January issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Posted on June 1, 2017 in Internet Resources
African Online Digital Library, from MATRIX: Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online, Michigan State University.
[Visited Feb’17] A joint effort of the Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online and the African Studies Center at Michigan State University, the African Online Digital Library is a portal website providing (as of the time of this review) access to 24 full-text and full-image collections of primary documentary, visual (films, videos, podcasts, and television programs), oral history, and biographical resources from both Africa and the US. The online library’s objective is to make multimedia collections on Africa available to scholars by working with cultural heritage organizations and universities in Africa. The geographic emphasis in current contents is focused on contemporary and colonial West Africa (specifically Senegal, the Gambia, Ghana, and Mauritania) and South Africa in the apartheid period. The other components are specialized collections relating to the history and culture of local Islamic communities in West Africa. The link to the African Ejournals section was broken at the time of review, but the African Journals Online project from South Africa is a useful substitute, providing access to more than 500 journals (about half of them open access) at ajol.info. Michigan State University’s website is valuable for college and university libraries supporting undergraduate and graduate programs in African history, African American studies, the history of religion, and political science. Summing Up: Recommended. All libraries. All levels. —R. B. Ridinger, Northern Illinois University
The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution.
[Visited Feb’17] This is an amazing website. Apparently established by a Syrian exile who has assembled a team to assist in managing it, the site accepts submissions from many sources. The organization is nonprofit, and works are protected under Creative Commons licenses. Information on the director or editorial team is not plainly available; this reviewer obtained information through correspondence with someone associated with the site. This lack of transparency is not ideal, as the web’s openness invites open knowledge of who is behind a particular initiative. That being said, the need for discretion in the particular case of Syria is understandable. The website is at least partially funded by European supporters from Norway (a governmental ministry), France (a Roman Catholic foundation), and Germany (a socialist political foundation). Representatives of these sources of support do not, according to the individual speaking on behalf of the site, have any say in the creative works presented or the workings of the site itself.
The submissions are largely from individuals and small groups, and all are in favor of the Syrian revolution, i.e., opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian regime’s longtime president. There is nothing visible that encourages violence or armed resistance; indeed, the site exists to stress the need for a peaceful revolutionary movement. No graphic content (the dead or injured of the conflict) is posted. The bulk of this rich site—available in English, French, and/or Arabic—is made up of poetry, short stories, music and songs, videos, interviews, announcements of rallies, artwork of all forms (from calligraphy to sculpture to graffiti), and the like. An archive and search engine work well to retrieve materials dating back, sporadically for some periods, to about 1988. These materials provide a fascinating look into the turmoil and torment of a country, a culture, and a people attempting to cope with loss and to rectify that loss while in the throes of a horrific conflict not necessarily of their own making. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. —S. J. Stillwell Jr., University of Arizona
Medieval Manuscripts Blog, from the British Library.
[Visited Feb’17] The Medieval Manuscripts Blog from the British Library combines gorgeous illustrations with brief, elementary explanations and links to related material. The blog authors, mostly doctoral-student interns, promote the library’s current projects in digitization, research, and public education. Preserved online are posts from its inception on February 5, 2010, and onward. Content ranges widely. Themes in the past year include fantastic beasts, monastic sign language, fake documents, and the female mystic Julian of Norwich. Many posts are tied to the season: devils are featured at Halloween, Christmas carols in December, and female writers and book patrons on International Women’s Day. The search feature on the blog site allows users to find images and commentary within a post. Bibliographies are not included with most entries, so users need to look elsewhere for further historical explanations. For those who want more beautiful and bizarre medieval manuscript images, the blog’s Twitter account provides additional pictures in closeup views from the library’s fabled collections. The British Library sponsors 19 blogs at the present time; Medieval Manuscripts Blog is the most popular according to the ranking posted at bl.uk/blogs. Those passionate about manuscripts of the period can find additional material about the Middle Ages in the British Library’s fascinating Collection Care blog. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. —M. C. Schaus, Haverford College
National Science Foundation Special Reports.
[Visited Feb’17] This site is a random but intriguing collection of reports on various topics that might interest teachers, beginning students studying science issues, and members of the public. Featured under the News section of the vast National Science Foundation (CH, Mar’09, 46-3799) website, there are about 85 of these special reports at the time of review. Users can search the entire NSF site and limit their results to just these special reports by including the two words among their search terms. Subjects of reports range from weather-related topics such as prediction and snow, to technological areas that include nanotechnology and robotics (e.g., “Tracking the Movement of Cyborg Cockroaches”). The visuals are excellent, and most of the reports contain photos as well as videos (e.g., short productions in the “Human Water Cycle” series). Some reports serve as placeholders leading to well-developed, NSF-funded projects, such as the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and its NEON Data Skills portal at neondataskills.org, which offers tutorials for working with large ecological data sets. Each of the special reports varies in depth and currency; some are public science initiatives (e.g., “Visualization Challenge”) that are no longer open for participation, while others yield a wealth of classroom-worthy, validated teaching and learning materials. Content is protected under copyright agreements, but everything may be freely accessed for personal, educational, and non-commercial uses. Summing Up: Recommended. High school through undergraduate students and teachers; general public. —P. M. Storm, Eastern Michigan University
Routledge Historical Resources: History of Feminism. Routledge, 2017. Perpetual licensing fees begin at approximately $7,000.00.
[Visited Feb’17] This first release of a new platform under the umbrella name of Routledge Historical Resources represents a program for studying the long 19th century (1776–1928) through digitized thematic collections and scholarship drawn from Taylor and Francis imprints and authors. This full-text, interdisciplinary content dealing with the history of feminism features primary and secondary sources of journal articles (published 1987–2015), along with books (more than 1,000 chapters), thematic essays and broad subject introductions, and gallery images. Primary source material mainly comes from sets in Routledge’s “Major Works” series. The academic editor of the collection is English literature scholar Ann Heilmann (Cardiff Univ., UK), who helped to curate the content and provides a video introduction for users. Nonsubscribers can access the video and the subject introductions for free.
A simple keyword search box is prominent in the header of all pages, but users can also browse and narrow by content type, subject, organization, region, period, contributor, and notable figures. Results can be sorted by relevancy, titles A–Z, or publication date. The subject focus is broad, covering sections labeled Education, Literature and Writings, Movements and Ideologies, Politics and Law, Religion and Belief, Society and Culture, and Women at Home. Users can browse or restrict searches to six designated time periods (1850–99 offers the majority of items). World regions include Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. A Notable Figures section of the site lists a wide range of women and men—prominent or obscure—who were “responsible for drawing attention to the frustrations and injustices from which women suffered in the home and in public life.” Josephine Butler, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, George Eliot, John Stuart Mill, and Mary Wollstonecraft are just a few of the hundreds of individuals listed. Sixteen thematic essays, commissioned for the History of Feminism from noted scholars, address a variety of topics, including suffrage, sexuality, marriage and law, literature, women’s work, science, education, politics, and spiritualism. The gallery contains images of photographs, postcards, banners, cartoons, magazine covers, buttons, posters, and more—all depicting various aspects and events in feminist history.
The site is attractive and intuitive, providing multiple entry points into its rich content, with time-saving design features to aid navigation, categorization, and discovery, including publication data, DOIs, PDFs, tables of contents, citation styles, page numbers, and related searches. MARC21-formatted records are also available. Content will not be updated (due to the publisher’s perpetual-access sales model), but technical functions and features may be. This collection offers a rich trove of feminist scholarship, primary research, historical context, and notable figures, wrapped in a handsome and accessible package. Researchers interested in the historical development of feminism and those in women’s studies and related interdisciplinary programs will find the resource immensely valuable. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels. —S. Markgren, Manhattan College
SAGE Business Cases. SAGE, 2017. Academic pricing based on FTE ranges starts at $3,675.00 for annual lease and $17,500.00 for one-time purchase.
[Visited Feb’17] SAGE Business Cases is an add-on component to the SAGE Knowledge (CH, Mar’13, 50-3587) platform and has been developed specifically for use in libraries to support business and entrepreneurship programs and research. Faculty, students, and librarians alike will appreciate navigating this intuitive interface in search of applicable case studies. Libraries subscribing to other SAGE products will find that the cases are integrated seamlessly with the book or video content and other reference materials. One can browse the collection by more than 15 broad subject sections, including, among others, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Leadership, Operations Management, Organization Studies, or Strategic Management. One can also approach the collection by filtering for more than a dozen content partners (including Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Yale School of Management, University of Notre Dame, the Society for Human Resource Management, or the Berkeley-Haas Case Series from the University of California, Berkeley). Additional international partners include the University of Cambridge, the Indian Institute of Management, and the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management. Approximately 600 items have been produced expressly for the collection by SAGE.
Cases can also be searched by keyword. A search for “Uber” brought up eight results, including one basic case from Berkeley-Haas and some intermediate cases from Northwestern Kellogg and Sage Publishing. On closer examination, only about three of them focused on Uber the company, while others mentioned Uber within the context of other sharing-economy companies, and a few showed up simply because the term was mentioned in passing in the text. Under advanced search, one needs to scroll down to find a way to limit a term (under “Discussed in case”) to an organization name. A more straightforward company field would make this clearer, as would an option to limit using the handy sidebar. A selection of other limiters is available, including a “Search within results” box and the option to see beyond what is subscribed to (labeled “Available to me” versus “All content”). Date limiters, keyword tags, and subjects can also be used to narrow search results.
With the addition of 700 cases in early 2017, total case count will rise to over 1,700 with plans to expand to 2,500 by 2018. Cases are all full text, and most include teaching notes (a view available to instructors only). Cases can be browsed by either Basic, Complex, or Intermediate academic levels. Many cases include discussion questions as well as learning objectives, making this a useful tool for business faculty wanting to incorporate case-based teaching into the curriculum. Librarians could also highlight some of these features in their outreach to business faculty. SAGE Business Cases will be a useful addition to any collection supporting undergraduate and graduate business programs. Summing Up: Recommended. Community college students through researchers/faculty; professionals/practitioners. —C. A. Ross, University of Michigan
SAGE Video. SAGE, 2017. Academic pricing based on FTE starts at $4,680.00 per collection for annual lease and $19,500.00 for one-time purchase. sk.sagepub.com/video
[Visited Feb’17] The eight disciplines or fields of study currently featured in this streaming video collection include business and management; counseling and psychotherapy; criminology and criminal justice; education; media, communication, and cultural studies; politics and international relations; psychology; and sociology. Institutions can subscribe to one or more subject areas separately or license the collection as a whole. Content dating from the 1920s to 2017 now approaches 3,500 videos running more than 1,000 hours. The collection is primarily instructional in nature, offering videotaped interviews, lectures, and tutorials, plus case studies, documentaries, and in-practice and observational content. It represents a mix of SAGE Original Production videos specifically commissioned from SAGE authors for the platform (more than half), plus content licensed from other distributors.
The well-designed interface provides various flexible, customized browsing or searching options. Search results are clearly presented; one can easily view results as entire works or as segments or chapters/entries within a work, or narrow the result set to very specific types of content (definition, key note address, panel discussion, etc.). Users can compile playlists and incorporate these predefined segments or easily create their own short clips as well. Closed captioning is available, which is a particularly useful feature if video is to be embedded into a course-management software platform. Fully searchable transcripts accompany every item, allowing users to jump to relevant portions of videos. Because transcripts and fairly substantial metadata complement every video, searching for keywords or subjects returns relevant materials that can then be filtered further. A slider bar for narrowing one’s search to particular publication date ranges is a handy tool. IP authentication, COUNTER-compliant usage data, and other expected technical features are also in place.
An accompanying SAGE Video LibGuide can be discovered among other Help documentation at the footer of every page. For libraries already subscribing to ebook content on the SAGE Knowledge platform (CH, Mar’13, 50-3587), the materials offered by SAGE Video can be easily incorporated into search results. In 2016, SAGE launched a separate subscriber collection of nearly 500 videos called SAGE Research Methods Videos to complement this resource and the offerings on its larger SAGE Research Methods (CH, Jan’12, 49-2439) online platform. Because institutions can choose to license only those collections that are relevant to their curricula, even smaller libraries looking to build video collections will find useful materials here. Summing Up: Recommended. Community college through graduate students; professionals/practitioners. —B. J. Bergman, Minnesota State University, Mankato
U.S. Declassified Documents Online. Gale, part of Cengage Learning, 2017. Contact publisher for pricing.
[Visited Feb’17] In mid 2016, Gale replaced its Declassified Documents Reference System (CH, Oct’06, 44-0697) with this new product consisting of formerly restricted materials dating from 1900 to 2008, with most items from after WW II. These declassified documents are gleaned from various governmental entities such as the National Security Council, US Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, executive agencies and presidential documents, the United Nations, and so forth. Through primary sources like these users can learn about historical events (such as the Cold War or Vietnam) and American policy, including strategy in the Middle East, foreign relations, and the environment, as well as domestic issues. Included are cabinet minutes, FBI surveillance memoranda, technical studies, White House briefings, policy statements, and official correspondence. The database contains over 700,000 pages, including many new items that were not available in its online predecessor, even though nearly all of the content here derives from the same microfilm sources. Annual supplements to the database must be purchased separately.
The interface supports advanced searching within text or title, place of publication, and document number. Users can limit by date, document type, completeness, and classification level. The product features enhanced capabilities, such as the ability to cross-search Gale’s other compilations of primary sources. Results can be analyzed using Term Clusters and Term Frequency tools. Documents are full-text page images, so text may be blacked out (“sanitized”) due to agency restrictions. The built-in image viewer allows one to zoom, rotate, or reverse scanned pages. Entries display full cataloging records as well as source citations. Users who have created an account can filter and save results, and add tags or annotations. The resource is optimized for Zotero (CH, Jun’08, 45-5309), but other citation-management software may also be used to export citations.
Comparing the freely available National Security Archive (CH, Jan’15, 52-2324), there appears to be little overlap; instead, the two complement each another. For example, Gale’s resource appears to contain only volume 3 of the “Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation,” while one can presumably retrieve the full five-volume set with some persistence in using Google search on the free site. Accordingly, while the awarding-winning free site hosted by George Washington University’s Gelman Library gathers more materials on current events, Gale’s U.S. Declassified Documents Onlinecontains more historical materials and offers superior search capabilities. Without a concerted effort to assemble and catalog materials, this rich content (with its inherent public-access restrictions) would not easily be discoverable or accessible. The collection—appropriate for all levels of study—will appeal to scholars in many fields of study, including political science, history, law, regional studies, environmental studies, business, social science, and journalism. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers; professionals/practitioners. —C. A. Sproles, University of Louisville
voxgov, East View Information Services. Annual academic subscription ranges from $9,000.00 to $22,000.00, based on Carnegie Classification or equivalent; contact publisher for pricing.
[Visited Feb’17] As a new US presidential administration began removing information previously made available to the world at large, researchers and information professionals scrambled to collect and archive this legacy before it was lost to the public; voxgov is a timely entrant to a vital enterprise. As a subscriber database, its developers have collected and indexed (at the time of review) over 26 million federal government documents, communications, and other official materials from all three branches of government. Its content will only grow over time, since the site updates every 15–20 minutes in its attempt to amass materials provided in digital format, including official releases, congressional documents, legislation, regulatory documents, and even social media commentary. While much of this material may be (or once was) available on agency or aggregator government sites such as USA.gov (CH, Oct’07, 45-0645), what sets the new resource apart is its commitment to storing and organizing these materials in one permanent location—an archival repository that is not subject to the whims of changing government policy. However, as its harvest of social media posts cannot be permanently cached, the content and contextual details derived from this source must be regarded as ephemeral.
Basic and advanced searching provides search suggestions for constructing inquiries using terms from source, keyword, and legislation fields, similar to other state-of-the-art academic databases. Users may also browse for material organized in 15 broad subject categories or in some 1,200-plus subcategories. Across the bottom of the home page a live Just In banner streams recent additions. Or one may approach the contents through sections labeled Compare (juxtaposing individuals and groups from Congress), Elections (tracing recent records from presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial races), or the Trending section (showing the volume of keywords, hashtags, names, organizations, places). Search results tally total counts and are displayed in an interactive time line, icon graphs, and word clouds, all of which can be customized by the user and downloaded. One has a variety of ways to intuitively filter the results (by date, content, source type, individual or agency source, party, congressional entity, and more), and successive searches within results are displayed as breadcrumbs. Demographics are also provided—not of the general US population, but of the House and Senate members—allowing one to view results according to legislators’ gender, race, party, religious affiliation, military service, and other characteristics.
With so many options, the dashboard can appear busy, but most features can be hidden or adjusted to one’s liking, allowing researchers to design their search experience and generate and save customized reports. Items come with permalinks that can be shared even with nonsubscribers. This intelligently designed interface yields immensely valuable primary materials and commentary, and sets a high bar as a tool for preserving and analyzing government information in the context of its creation and the resultant commentary. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. —C. A. Collins, Saint Joseph’s University
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the January issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the December 2021 issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the November 2021 issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the October 2021 issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources