Internet Resources: May 2022 Edition
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the May issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Posted on March 8, 2018 in Internet Resources
Colonial America: Module 3: The American Revolution. Adam Matthew, 2017. Contact publisher for pricing (based on FTE, purchase history, and Carnegie Classification); a typical one-time purchase with nominal hosting fee (0.5% of purchase price) ranges from $15,000.00 to $50,000.00. colonialamerica.amdigital.co.uk
[Visited Dec’17] As the third of five planned modules, release of this latest component offers researchers an intimate look at the turmoil of the 1770s and 1780s as the American colonists struggled to gain independence from Britain. These Colonial Office (CO) Series 5 files from the UK’s National Archives include official military correspondence, military intelligence, intercepted colonial military correspondence, and intercepted letters between colonists, along with multiple copies of the Declaration of Independence printed by John Dunlap and Hugh Gaine.
Printed documents within the collection are augmented by personal correspondence, which for the first time is searchable via Adam Matthew’s newly released Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) tool. HTR employs artificial intelligence and probability to retrieve results from documents with a variety of handwriting styles. While HTR was only released with this third module, it may be applied across the entire Colonial America collection, including the first (CH, Nov’16, 54-0991) and second modules (CH, Mar’17, 54-3032). Each HTR-searchable document is noted on the Documents and Search Results sections’ result lists by a pencil icon. After initial query results are retrieved, researchers may search within selected documents/manuscripts to locate exact words/phrases, omitting Boolean operators and use of quotation marks to search phrases or exact words. While HTR is immeasurably better than standard OCR of manuscripts, this reviewer’s own tests using the tool were not always 100 percent accurate; researchers relying on it must assume that the technology will not retrieve every instance of a search string within collections or documents.
One of the unique characteristics of The American Revolution module is the context provided for official documents by the personal correspondence. For example, a Dunlap-printed copy of the broadsheet of the Declaration of Independence was enclosed in a letter from Richard and William Howe to George Germain, secretary of state for the American Department. In the letter, the Howe brothers outline their attempts to communicate with George Washington, the decision by members of Congress to declare the colonies independent states, and the government plans already published by New Jersey and Virginia. These documents are collated within the collection along with related items, providing background for events throughout the confrontation.
The release of documents in The American Revolution collection opens the door to a wealth of new primary research material for scholars of the American Revolution and the Colonial era, which when combined with US–centric sources like EBSCO’s Revolutionary War Era Orderly Books from the New-York Historic Society (CH, Jan’15, 52-2327) and A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: US Congressional Documents and Debates 1774–1875 (CH, Mar’00, 37-4069) develop a multidimensional view of the Revolutionary War and British-American relations. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Beginning students through researchers/faculty; professionals/practitioners. —R. J. Erlandson, Independent consultant
Encyclopedia of Law and Religion Online, ed. by Gerhard Robbers and W. Cole Durham Jr. Brill, 2017. Outright purchase price is $2,295.00.
[Visited Dec’17] Issues of religious freedom today play an especially important role in worldwide politics and society. Brill’s Encyclopedia of Law and Religion Online provides a reliable and comprehensive examination of the intersection between law, state, and religion around the globe. Its vast coverage includes lengthy entries for all independent nations as well as major international organizations and special territories. Entries are written by legal experts and scholars in language that will be accessible to most undergraduate students. Each of these contributors provides detailed statistics and background details about the particular country’s religious makeup, as well as general attitudes towards religion and religiosity. In addition to providing a broad social overview, authors also cover pertinent specialized topics such as “The Legal Status of Religious Communities,” “Religion in Criminal Law,” or “Individual Freedom of Religion or Belief”; these and other subheadings in essays are searchable as a phrase if put in double quotes. The easy-to-use web interface Brill Online (CH, Feb’08, 45-2935) allows users to browse alphabetically by country or geographic region and to search the full text of all entries. Entries vary in length, but all are well written and informative. Bibliographies for each entry provide additional primary and secondary materials for researchers. This fine resource could easily be used to support a great number of academic courses and programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates through researchers/faculty; professionals/practitioners. —J. D. Graveline, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain, ed. by Siân Echard and Robert Rouse. Oxford, 2017. Available for one-time purchase for $650.00, or by annual subscription; pricing based on institutional type/size/FTEs.
[Visited Dec’17] This work, available as a four-volume print set and an ebook on the Wiley Online Library (CH, Jan’11, 48-2411) platform, distinguishes itself by focusing on the medieval literatures present in Britain between 449 and 1541. Extending the coverage beyond Old and Middle English to include Irish, Welsh, Cornish, Scots, Gaelic, and Continental and Insular forms of Latin and French, editors Echard and Rouse (both, Univ. of British Columbia, Canada) provide students and researchers alike with a sense of the multilingual and intercultural nature of medieval British literature. Entries are arranged in alphabetical order with plentiful see also references, but arrangement of the work’s topical index under three headings highlights its focus on historical factors, language and literatures, and literary themes. These sections also reflect the broadening of disciplinary boundaries characteristic of this work. The material and sociopolitical cultures that create literature—book history, places, historical events, and political and religious persons—may be easily explored within this reference work using the topical indexes. All entries are followed by a bibliography and a further reading list.
The coverage in this work is not as broad as that in The Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature (CH, May’06, 43-5009), published by Facts on File, or the 2000 Greenwood Press release of a similarly titled work by Robert and Laura Lambdin (CH, Feb’01, 38-3064), but the treatment in The Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain exhibits greater depth of coverage of the Celtic, French, and Latin literatures and influences in Britain, and thus exceeds the reach of other, comparable works. This work provides advanced undergraduate students with an inclusive view of literary networks and influences in medieval Britain. When read alongside the essays in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English (CH, Jan’11, 48-2536), it will provide an excellent grounding in the subject for interested students and scholars. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty. —E. M. Bentsen, Baylor University
The Florence Nightingale Digitization Project, from Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center and other collaborators.
[Visited Dec’17] Known as the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale was born into English gentry in 1920 and lived for 90 years. Her lasting fame began while serving as a nurse in the Crimean War at age 35 and continued throughout her life with her work and writings on nursing, health statistics, and health reform. Numerous books have been published around themes from her correspondence. Her letters are now available in digital format for researchers, hosted on the website of Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center (CH, May’15, 52-4520). The website launched in 2014 as a collaborative venture of the host institution with the Florence Nightingale Museum in London, The Royal College of Nursing, and the Wellcome Library (CH, Oct’06, 44-0687)—another UK online resource for the history of medicine. An additional 16 libraries noted for their leadership in the medical and health sciences fields have joined the project. To date, more than 2,000 letters handwritten or narrated by Florence Nightingale are available from this single source.
The database is superbly organized and allows one to enter a search term(s) or select from a short list of suggested searches that reveal the depth and breadth of the collection (hospital design and construction, military medicine, nurse administrators, sanitary engineering, statistics, workhouses, etc.). This exceptionally high-quality search system features a left-hand pane that allows readers to filter their top-level search term further by personal entities, corporate entities, subjects, and collections. Further breakdowns of these terms are also available. Each instance in the left-hand column identifies how many archived letters are associated with the term. The logo of the organization that holds the letter is prominently displayed. The Nightingale project exemplifies the best of possible outcomes when world-class institutions collaborate toward the unified goal of providing access to primary source materials. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Community college students through researchers/faculty; professionals/practitioners. —J. A. Ohles, Moravian College
Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1919–1952: Section I: Japanese Imperialism and the War in the Pacific, 1931–1945. Adam Matthew, 2017. Contact publisher for pricing; a typical one-time purchase ranges from $8,985.00 to $29,950.00, with nominal hosting fee.
[Visited Dec’17] This wonderful collection of primary source material representing the British government’s point of view concerning Japan during the country’s war years includes diplomatic papers, clippings, correspondence, and more—all coming from the Foreign Office files at the UK’s National Archives. Materially, then, Adam Matthew’s Archives Directplatform offers scholars access to a valuable digitized collection. Besides cost, the main considerations for a rich, digitized collection of primary sources are interface design and the inclusion of additional materials that add value.
With the interface, searching and navigation works fairly well but can be a little perplexing. On the plus side, Adam Matthew has a brief tutorial, and search can be manipulated for proximity, Boolean, or phrase searches. However, searching just a single collection requires the user to go to the main introduction page because the search box featured at the top of every page searches across the entire Adam Matthew portal. Fortunately, any purchased collection materials are weighted to show up first in search results. Other than this criterion, it is unclear how documents are ranked in the results list. Navigation between the results list and individual titles, however, is quite clear. The presentation of documents is where the interface shines. It looks like Adam Matthew staff worked from the original documents, not the microfilm. Search terms are highlighted, both within the text and separated out as a link. Zooming is simple, and pages can be downloaded as images. Users can also see thumbnail images of all pages, and a citation/export button is provided.
Some of the platform’s extra materials are very useful. Maps have been pulled out from the Foreign Office documents into a separate collection, which is interesting and helpful. A chronology section broadly ties the Foreign Office documents to world affairs. The selection of popular searches divided into categories—People, Places, and Topics—is a valuable gateway to relevant documents. The essay section, though, appears to be the weakest element of the Japan files collection, offering only one essay, which simply gives an overview of how the collection can be used. More useful would be information on who wrote these documents, or other contextual information. Also, it should be noted that the popular searches are somewhat hidden and can only be accessed from the collection’s introduction page. The other extra materials can be found through a navigation list that appears at the top of every page, although this can be confusing too, as it includes all of the different Adam Matthew collections, even those that an institution may not have purchased. Aside from these few design concerns, this first component in a planned set of three offers valuable source material, very well presented. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty. —A. Reichert, Otterbein University
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. by Tim Crane. Routledge, 2017. Annual academic subscription for unlimited concurrent users ranges from $1,280.00 to $3,650.00, based on FTE.
[Revisited Dec’17] Since its print and CD-ROM release in 1998 (CH, Dec’98, 36-1926) and online debut in 2001 (CH, Apr’11, 48-4213), the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy has established and maintained its reputation as the premier fee-based, comprehensive reference source in philosophy. Originally under Edward Craig’s editorship, it is now headed by Crane (Cambridge Univ., UK), working as general editor with a team of ten US- or EU-based subject editors. Since the last review, revised or new entries (“e.g., “Aesthetics, in Philosophy,” “Artificial Intelligence, Recent Work on”) have been added at the rate of roughly 40 per year, bringing the total number of entries to more than 2,700. New features include playlists (guest-edited selections highlighting new and emerging encyclopedia topics) and archived versions of updated articles, which preserve earlier content made freely accessible to non-subscribers, as are the article summaries; subscriber-only content is identified by a lock icon. Each article has a digital object identifier as a stable URL, and although entire articles cannot be emailed or printed, subscribers may share segments on Facebook, Twitter, CiteULike, or Bitlyplatforms. Article bibliographies do not link to external sources, but the content supports a lattice of 25,000 hyperlinked cross-references internal to the encyclopedia. Navigation, like searching, is thus simple and transparent.
Long articles (e.g., “Gender and Science”) and shorter thematic ones (“A Posteriori” to “Zionism”) are subdivided into segments, but users may be frustrated by being able to view, print, or search (via CTRL-F) only portions at a time. Additionally, the credentials of the authors are not clearly presented, and although the prestige and authority of the resource’s content and contributors are not in question (some are the leading authorities in their fields or on the topics they write about), students and scholars who find the content through a discovery tool would expect to see more about their background and affiliation, not simply a listing of articles they contributed. Users also expect to know the currency of information, but not all articles display the publication date; one must click an embedded cite tool link to retrieve this detail. Many articles have been updated since 1998, but plenty have not, which can prove frustrating to novice and seasoned scholars looking to understand how philosophy has changed in the past 20 years.
Important online, peer-reviewed competitors are the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (CH, Mar’15, 52-3406) and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (CH, Oct’15, 53-0568), both of which are free websites. Although Routledge’s resource is a significant, high-quality work that continues to develop and grow, these other resources are serious contenders, and studious readers are advised to compare the scope and quality of entries across the lot to detect for themselves the gaps in scope and treatment. Summing Up: Highly recommended/ Undergraduate students through researchers/faculty. —M. Meola, Community College of Philadelphia
The Sony Pictures Classic Collection. Alexander Street, 2017. Contact publisher for pricing; annual academic subscription ranges from $5,100.00 to $30,150.00 for Premium Collection.
[Visited Dec’17] Sony Pictures Classics was established in 1992 as an autonomous division of Sony Pictures. Its focus is to obtain, produce, and/or distribute independent international cinema—both documentary and feature films. These movies represent a multifarious assortment aimed at adults and not the typical teenage audience. There is an emphasis on prestige and quality versus potential only at the box office. These movies would have most likely appeared in independent or art house theaters such as the Landmark Theatres chain. Of the 300 titles selected for this premium streaming collection, 39 are from 1975 to the 1990s, 171 from the 2000s, and 90 from the years 2010–15. Many of the films have been nominated or won major awards. The package includes, for instance, the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Picture winners Amour; A Separation; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Son of Saul; The Secret in Their Eyes; The Lives of Others; Character; In a Better World; and Indochine. It also features the Oscar-winning performances of Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, and J. K. Simmons. The films represent the works of 257 directors: Pedro Almodóvar leads the way with nine films, and Woody Allen and Zhang Yimou each have seven. Users can browse by title (alphabetical list), genre (33 possibilities, with drama being the mode), or director.
There are flexible search options to help in the discovery of desired content—by language, performer, writer, character, and subject. As with other Alexander Street resources, once a title is selected, a detailed description and a transcript appear that runs along with the feature; alternatively, one can choose to run a film with closed captions. Viewers are encouraged to create an account to enable them to cite, email, embed a link, or create a playlist. Most of the features highlight a link, for additional information, to the record in the Internet Movie Database, better known as IMDb: Movies, TV, and Celebrities (CH, Jul’15, 52-5640). For clarification of functionality and useful educational resources, the publisher provides a detailed LibGuide at proquest.libguides.com/SONY/home. Although Alexander Street offers subscription models for a defined collection of 40, 100, or all 300 films (for one-, two-, or three-year terms), the DDA (demand-driven acquisition) model makes the most sense for institutions, where a subscription is triggered after the fourth viewing. The array of chosen films represents some of the best in world cinema, and cinema connoisseurs will appreciate the broad range, from light entertainment to serious and controversial subjects. This curated collection is recommended for libraries supporting robust and aspiring film-studies programs or serving film aficionados. Summing Up:Recommended. All libraries. All levels. —J. A. Badics, Eastern Michigan University
University of Fashion: Online Fashion Design School, from Francesca Sterlacci and Jeffrey Purvin. Contact publisher for pricing.
[Visited Dec’17] “No Admissions. No Travel. No scheduled classes. Learn what you want, when and where you want!” Thus proclaims this site’s ambition to be a self-driven student resource, offering a database of video lessons in draping, pattern making, sewing, fashion art and drawing, CAD, fashion business and product development, accessories, knits, and childrens’ wear. Unlike the amateur videos of variable quality one finds on YouTube, lessons here are scripted and hosted by professional designers. The home page is straightforward and simply designed. It presents a standard simple search box, plus links to sections labeled Lessons, Subscriptions, About, Resources, Blog, and Contact. Icons for Facebook, Twitter, etc. offer alternative ways to sign in. Monthly subscriptions for individuals and groups are offered. Content is comprehensive, and all videos include tables of contents and transcripts. One’s laptop needs to be within reach for easy pausing and replaying during lessons.
Under the Pattern Making section, lessons are divided by mastery level. Examples, highlighting three levels, including videos for beginners (e.g., “Basic Pant Sloper,” run time 41:48); intermediate (“High-Waisted Skirt, 29:04); and advanced (“Drafting a Women’s Jacket, run time 24:24). The videos teach viewers how to draft patterns using body measurements. Further lessons show how to draft sleeves, bodices, collars, necklines, and darts. Subscribers can download basic “sloper” or pattern files to get started, and videos include supply lists. Draping lessons are also extensive and of variable length, including Introduction to Dress Forms (run time 12:30), Drop Shoulder Blouse (41:53), and Bias Cowl Blouse (1:10:03). The Fashion Drawing section offers yet more: Drawing Female Hands, Drawing & Illustrating Male Frontal Pose, and Twin Figures—Mood Drawing. One can find lectures covering topics like Tanning Leather, Textile Dyeing, and Plus-Size Models, along with interviews with notable fashion experts such as Kara Laricks and Valerie Steele. The site’s Fashion Business section offers nearly 20 videos dealing with the history of licensing, start-ups, collection costing, or lessons on understanding profit and loss.
Each section recommends a watching sequence, moving from fundamentals through intermediate to advanced practices, and comes with this note: “You’ll learn the most from these lessons by doing exactly what the teachers are doing, using your own materials.” Years ago, when learning how to draft patterns, this reviewer discovered that in fashion designing, nothing beats practice. One has to ask if students can use this service instead of enrolling in college. The simple answer—yes. However, one must be self-directed, motivated, and have the toughness to try (and fail) many times before mastering skills. According to the site’s FAQ, a team of fashion designers is available to answer both lesson-related and general questions about fashion careers. All designers need to be resourceful and outgoing, using social networks like Etsy or Pinterest to get feedback. Even if students decide later to enroll in fashion school, what they learn via the University of Fashion will jump-start their career. Summing Up: Highly recommended. High school through undergraduate students; general readers. —C. Donaldson, North Seattle College
The Yearbook of International Organizations, ed. by the Union of International Associations. 54th ed., 2017-2018. Brill, 2017. Annual academic subscription is $3,295.00.
[Visited Dec’18] The Yearbook of International Organizations is the definitive directory of more than 75,000 governmental and non-governmental nonprofit organizations worldwide, including both active and dormant entities. For decades, it has been published by Brill on behalf of the Union of International Associations (UIA)—a non-governmental research institute and documentation center based in Brussels; further information is available at uia.org/yearbook. There are no comparable works of its scope, and its closest rival—the similarly formatted Encyclopedia of Associations: International Organizations published in a three-volume print (56th ed., 2017) and an ebook edition on the Gale Virtual Reference Library (CH, Dec’10, 48-1793) platform—pales in comparison. The UIA/Brill resource is truly an omnibus endeavor sui generis.
Navigation of the online licensed edition is straightforward, with links on the home page corresponding to the set’s six printed volumes. Paralleling the contents of the first three volumes, one can search by name, location, and subject. The latter is ostensibly facilitated by employing the database’s own rubrics extracted from profile titles and descriptions, but unfortunately, searching in this manner results in some irrelevant returns, and one may be better off using keywords as search terms. The granularity of the otherwise robust search interface also enables more refined searches by fields such as membership, the year the organization was founded, where it is headquartered, and the venues of past and future meetings. An elaborate coding system categorizes organizations by type (national organizations, those with universal membership, etc.). Replicating the remaining volumes in the set, there are also links to an extensive bibliography on international organizations, statistics about them, and the Who’s Who in International Organizations (CH, Mar’04, 41-3767) volume.
Open Yearbook at uia.org/ybio is UIA’s free service, and it offers all of the entries in the full-feature database but with only basic searching capability of the limited information about an organization’s history and aims; the particulars about activities, structure, staff, financing, publications, membership, and scheduled events updated every six to eight weeks in the fee-based online version are restricted to paying subscribers. The gargantuan print edition, in six hefty tomes published annually, totals thousands of pages. But as stated in the prefatory notes, it sometimes omits full descriptions, unlike the online edition. The fact that the organizations themselves are the principal sources speaks to the credibility of the information in the profiles, which include “many bodies that may be perceived as not being fully international, or as not being organizations as such, or as not being of sufficient significance to merit inclusion.” With print-reference purchases declining and academic library shelf space at a premium, the annual subscription to the digital version is the obvious choice for those institutions that can afford it. Practically speaking, however, the free version should suffice for most users if supplemented by internet searches, albeit labor intensive, to find information on the organizations’ own websites. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduate students through professionals/practitioners; general readers. —D. Ettinger, George Washington University
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the May issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the April issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the March issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the February issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources