Internet Resources: October 2020 Edition

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

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Reading like a Victorian. Victorian Serial Novels, 2020.

Global Environmental Justice Documentaries. Face to Face Media, 2020. Contact publisher for pricing.

“Global Environmental Justice Documentaries is a curated collection of 25 diverse, interdisciplinary documentaries produced by Face to Face Media,” wrote Sue Wiegand for ccAdvisor. Covering the “social impacts of such global and local issues as consumerism, industrial development, colonization, and climate change,” the films overall highlight “indigenous cultures’ traditional values, with an emphasis on sustainability,” in order to enhance students’ environmental literacy, Wiegand added. The platform’s educational capacity is aided by the inclusion of teachers’ guides, which incorporate supplemental resources such as discussion questions. Although not every film is currently accompanied by a guide, more are planned for the future. The interface also aids user experience with many helpful features, “namely embedded links, full-screen and picture-in-picture viewing options, playlists, clips, saved searches, … recommendations, … and the ability to tag, send previews, cite, and adjust text size,” as Wiegand pointed out. Also advantageous are the interactive transcripts and subtitles provided (as many of the films are not in English), all of which meet ADA standards.

As Wiegand concluded, “these documentaries bring the neglected stories of marginalized communities to light.” She further noted that although the collection is small, it is “rich in the diversity of perspectives and multifaceted ideas presented.” In fact, given its curated focus and supplemental resources, Global Environmental Justice Documentaries is truly a unique product making it difficult to identify competitors. However, a few alternative sources may be Films on Demand from Infobase (which includes some films on environmental science and global activism), as well as Bullfrog Films (also a Docuseek participating distributor) and Collective Eye Films, both of which focus on environmental and social justice issues, though neither provides a searchable streaming service. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All undergraduates.

This review is a summary of a longer review by Sue Wiegand, Saint Mary’s College, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2020 by The Charleston Company.—Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

PolicyMap. PolicyMap, 2020. Contact publisher for pricing.

Blending geographic information system (GIS) mapping features with an easy-to-use interface and a plethora of health, economic, and social welfare data from government and private sources, “PolicyMap is a web-based tool for mapping US data,” Ellie Dworak wrote for ccAdvisor. Intended to “inform public policy, community health, [and] business intelligence,” it will pertain particularly to researchers, grant writers, market researchers, real estate developers, and many others in both public and private sectors who use demographic data.

“The PolicyMap homepage is a US map with some basic cartographic details,” which “can be resized using a legend,” Dworak noted. A horizontal navigation bar at the top has “links for 10 indicator types: Demographics; Incomes & Spending; Housing; Lending; Quality of Life; Economy; Education; Health; Federal Guidelines; and Analytics,” each of which can be expanded into a menu of further indicators that can be displayed on the map as “Data Layers” or “Data Points.” Users also have the option to generate “Tables” or “3-Layer Maps” using any Data Points or Layers selected, as well as “Reports” for a predefined or custom location. “Most of the data can be downloaded in CSV format,” Dworak added. 

“Although the number of options included in the navigation is somewhat overwhelming at first,” Dworak emphasized that overall “PolicyMap manages to deliver powerful GIS capabilities and copious data indicators with an interface that a generalist can quickly grasp and put to use,” aided by helpful tutorials, a “Quick Start” guide, and a full manual. Major competitors are Social Explorer, which focuses on historical census data, and SimplyAnalytics (formerly SimplyMap) (CH, Feb’20, 57-1817), which concentrates on marketing and business information. However, PolicyMap contains the broadest collection of data indicators. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals.

This review is a summary of a longer review by Ellie Dworak, Boise State University, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2020 by The Charleston Company.—Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

Reading like a Victorian. Victorian Serial Novels, 2020. Contact publisher for pricing.

Reading Like a Victorian (RLV) is an open access website that “restores a number of [Victorian] novels to their original serial formatting and places them within [an accessible] timeline of contemporary works,” as Stephanie Luke wrote for ccAdvisor. The platform currently “features some 130 works, of which about a third are serialized fiction … largely sourced from other open access resources,” as Luke also noted. The primary intention is to adequately convey what the experience of reading Victorian novels was like during the period, although a number of contemporaneous works are also included to provide cultural context. For instance, “the site includes … Charles Darwin’s nonfictional treatise On the Origin of Species, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poetry collection The Idylls of the King, W. S. Gilbert’s play Pygmalion and Galatea, Agnes Strickland’s multivolume biography Lives of the Queens of England, and Beeton & Beeton’s periodical The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.” All works are organized according to seven “stacks”: groups of novels that were published during a specified time period (ranging from 1840 to 1872). Once a stack is selected, the site displays a timeline of the works published within that stack. Users can navigate these texts using RLV’s very basic interface. Although it is relatively straightforward to use, the site’s aesthetics make the text difficult to read, and the search function is particularly weak, often yielding incomplete or unclear results. Additionally, the site itself does not embed the texts compiled, but rather links to other resources, which can prove troublesome if the links migrate. As much of RLV’s content is drawn from Project GutenbergHaithiTrustThe Internet Archive, and LibriVox, all of those sites could be considered alternatives to this platform. Summing Up: Optional. General readers through faculty.

This review is a summary of a longer review by Stephanie Luke, Indiana University, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2020 by The Charleston Company.–Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

Social Work Reference Center. EBSCO Information Services, 2020. Contact publisher for pricing.

Social Work Reference Center  (SWRC) is a point-of-care reference tool for social workers and mental health professionals” that provides “easy access to evidence-based care sheets, social work practices and skills, skill competency checklists, quick lessons, patient education, and more, including continuing education unit (CEU) modules,” as Renae Watson wrote for ccAdvisor. Importantly, “[c]redentialed social workers and relevant professionals produce and review much of the content available … on a regular basis,” and the editorial team also “reviews high-use or top-priority content, such as evidence-based care sheets and quick lessons, quarterly for possible revisions attributable to new evidence,” Watson added. 

Users can peruse the material using basic or advanced search options. The Basic Search page features a single search box with quick pathways, so that navigating desired topics is fairly easy, and the advanced search page offers options to search by keyword(s), author, publication date, publication type, source, subject, and title. According to Watson, “SWRC’s strengths lie in its content and browsing options,” as the material “is uniquely aimed at social work practitioners and produced for readability, with standardized section headings for each source type and bulleted lists where appropriate.” There are some minor shortcomings that hinder usability. For instance, search terms disappear once the search results load, and if users wish to add keywords to a search, they must retype the original search term(s). 

“Given its intended audience of social workers and mental health professionals, [SWRC] has no direct competitor,” though “some content may overlap with the Encyclopedia of Social Work.” Ultimately, however, “SWRC’s evidence-based care sheets, social work practices and skills, skill competency checklists, and quick lessons make it a unique point-of-care tool in the social work discipline,” as Watson concluded. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.

This review is a summary of a longer review by Renae Watson, Colorado State University, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2020 by The Charleston Company.–Abstracted from, ccAdvisor