Internet Resources: November 2020 Edition

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

Bloomsbury Medieval Studies webpage image
Bloomsbury Medieval Studies

American National Biography. Oxford, 2020. Contact publisher for pricing.

American National Biography, managed by Oxford University Press, provides access … to biographies of over 19,000 historical figures who helped shape American history,” such as Helen Keller and Abraham Lincoln, spanning the pre-Colonial era to the present, as Jennifer Blair wrote for ccAdvisor. “Although the number of items available seems limited in comparison [to] other databases,” Blair noted that the database “focuses only on American history [and] allows users to expand research with thousands of cross-reference links.” American National Biography is ideal for academics, schools, the public, and researchers of all levels, she added. However, given the brevity of the content, in addition to the fact that resources are limited beyond the year 2000, it will most benefit K–12 teachers and students, public libraries, individuals, and institutions that require basic research. Operating similarly to a general biographical encyclopedia, the database provides the name, birth and death dates, a DOI, a summary, an image if available, and a bibliography for each entry. The interface allows for both basic and advanced searching using Boolean operators, quotes, parentheses, date ranges, format, and type, in addition to the more unique features of searching by gender or occupation. There are some drawbacks, however, such as the lack of subject searching, though overall searching and navigation is straightforward.

Alongside Biography Reference Bank and Biography Reference Center, from EBSCO, and Oxford Dictionary of National Biography from Oxford University Press, the Dictionary of American Biography stands out as the closest competitor to American National Biography, though its content primarily focuses on the pre–WW II period. Ultimately, the strength of American National Biography is its focus on American history and the quality and variety of its content. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through upper-division undergraduates. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

This review is a summary of a longer review by Jennifer Blair, Azusa Pacific University, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2020 by The Charleston Company.

Bloomsbury Medieval Studies. Bloomsbury, 2020. Contact publisher for pricing.

Bloomsbury Medieval Studies (BMS) is a good interdisciplinary resource that provides access to all of Bloomsbury Publishing’s offerings on medieval studies in one place,” writes John Sandstrom for ccAdvisor. One strength, he adds, is its global perspective in contrast to the Eurocentric view typical of most products focused on the medieval period. This is best exemplified by the Explore Places tab, “which divides the world into eight geographic regions representing almost 100 countries.” Users may explore by Topic, Period, and Primary Sources in addition to using a standard search bar. Overall, the interface is clear and fairly user-friendly, though searchability has a couple of drawbacks, such as the inability to search within results and the fact that the scanned primary sources do not have searchable text. 

This platform was intended primarily for undergraduate use, though given the quality and variety of its sources, BMS is suitable for high school students and even for preliminary research by graduate students and faculty. For instance, the database offers exclusive access to the new Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages and “fully searchable access to over 150 scholarly books; primary texts and images; high-resolution maps … a curated selection of study resources; and an interactive timeline,” Sandstrom adds. 

Sandstrom also notes that in many ways, Bloomsbury is competing with itself through BMS as “many of the resources available in this product are also available as stand-alone products either online or in hard copy.” Still, in relation to the “variety of other products that provide access to some of the same types of information as BMS,” this platform stands out for being consciously global and interdisciplinary in scope. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers through faculty. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

This review is a summary of a longer review by John Sandstrom, New Mexico State University, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2020 by The Charleston Company.

Disaster Lit: Database for Disaster Medicine and Public Health. National Library of Medicine, 2020. Contact publisher for pricing.

Disaster Lit: Database for Disaster Medicine and Public Health is an open access database created and maintained by the National Library of Medicine (NLM),” providing “access to biomedical research, journal research, and grey literature on disaster medicine and public health,” wrote Marcia Salmon for ccAdvisor. As she also noted, Disaster Lit was created as part “of the Disaster Information Management Research Center, which provides comprehensive disaster health information,” and “is an important database for research in emergency management, disaster preparedness, and public health.” Content includes “guidelines, reports, proceedings, training, and fact sheets,” as well as disaster and public health information from PubMed, MedlinePlus (CH, Jul’18, 55-3869), and 1,400 noncommercial, disaster-related resources, Salmon added. The database itself is freely available to access and search, although some content may require users to subscribe to the publications where that content resides.

To navigate these sources, Disaster Lit includes a basic search box and an advanced search function, and allows for Boolean searching and keyword searching by title, source, date published, format, annotation, authors, type, access notes, and URL. Results can then be filtered by source, publication type, publication year, author, and whether the database includes research tools. Also helpful, as Salmon detailed, is the site’s ability to enable “discovery of disaster health information in other NLM databases by running a search in PubMedMedlinePlus, and National Institute of Health/National Library of Medicine.”

Several databases cover aspects of the same content included in this database, such as NIH Disaster Research Response (DR2), PubMed and PubMed Central, and the WHO’s Global Index Medicus, to name a few, although as Salmon concluded, “[t]here does not appear to be a database that competes directly with Disaster Lit.” Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students and faculty. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

This review is a summary of a longer review by Marcia Salmon, York University, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2020 by The Charleston Company.

Women’s Studies Archive: Voice and Vision. Gale, part of Cengage Learning, 2020. contact publisher for pricing.

Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive: Voice and Vision is “a collection of primary source material related to women’s history in the 19th and 20th centuries gathered from … archival collections,” wrote Jennifer DeVito for ccAdvisor. The site features “primary source material on the evolution of feminism, activism, women’s rights, political movements, and literature authored by women,” and is global in scope, emphasizing material written or produced by women from diverse ethnic and religious groups. Content includes manuscripts, monographs, photographs, personal papers, diaries, organizational records, and periodicals, and covers topics including slavery, socialism, education, marriage, and social justice. It is best suited for academic libraries, particularly at institutions with gender studies programs, and may also be appropriate for public libraries with communities interested in women’s studies.

The interface is fairly easy to navigate, especially for those familiar with other Gale products. As DeVito noted, “[t]he landing page has a basic search box [with] the option to select Advanced Search and links to other search tools,” such as Collections, Publications, and Research Tools. Voice and Vision also offers two new features to enhance functionality: Topic Finder and Term Frequency. Topic Finder helps users locate topics and results related to their search terms, although it does not highlight those terms in the results; Term Frequency shows term use over a period of time. 

A number of primary source databases offer similar material on women’s history, as do some free online collections, but Women’s Studies Archives offers access to unique collections spanning two centuries and incorporating the diverse, global perspectives of African American, Mexican American, Indian, Irish, Jewish, and Muslim women, among others. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

This review is a summary of a longer review by Jennifer A. DeVito, Stony Brook University, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2020 by The Charleston Company.