Internet Resources: February Edition

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

Love the Internet Resources? Try our other newsletters.

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching). Free.

[Visited Nov’18] “The MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) repository provides access to a curated, online collection of Open Educational Resources (OER) that includes learning and support materials and learning objects,” wrote Victoria Volkanova for ccAdvisor. It is a database of metadata that describe all the learning materials, including 1,500 learning exercises (the total number of materials is more than 80,000) and the profiles of registered MERLOT members (more than 155,000). The content creation tools as well as personal spaces are integrated on the same platform. Together, these resources create an open, content-rich, flexible, and collaborative environment for learners, educators, and researchers and offer a highly cost-effective approach to supporting instruction and learning. The detailed process of adding or creating a new material, as well the more extended peer review process that many materials undergo, assures that the collections are of high quality, well described, and easily searchable. With more than 20 types of learning materials and nine general subject categories with many subcategories, the collections cater to various needs, goals, and audiences.

The interface is user-friendly and intuitive. It offers multiple entry points to the contents of the repository and allows users to easily create personal spaces and materials. Searching is thorough and flexible, and includes browsing functions and an advanced search option. The search results are presented in a visual and interactive way, allowing the user to quickly evaluate individual items and to refine the results. These features are consistent with the look and feel of high-quality scientific databases and search tools. MERLOT Help ( is a distinct, fully developed website containing all the documentation pertaining to MERLOT, including the product history, step-by-step instructions for searching or creating materials, guidelines for peer-reviewers, etc. “This is a very useful feature in a repository of this magnitude,” Volkanova wrote. For the full version of this review, to go Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. Stoehr, CHOICE

The Papers of Woodrow Wilson. Contact publisher for pricing.

[Visited Nov’18] “The Papers of Woodrow Wilson is part of The University of Virginia’s American History Collection,” wrote Lisa Karen Miller for ccAdvisor. Spanning 1856–1924, the collection provides a variety of primary documents: personal letters; love letters; vital family statistics from the Wilson family Bible; drawings and inscriptions from his school books; lists of clothing and furniture purchased for college; lists of his courses and textbooks at Davidson College (which evidence a sound classical education; i.e., he was taught how to think); notes on his study of phonography (dictation shorthand), which he used his entire life, illustrating one of his famous maxims, “To save time is to lengthen life”; minutes from the Eumenean Society, a debating and literary society at Davidson; and, of course, hundreds of documents relating to the First World War. Early drafts of the Covenant of the League of Nations with rewrites and crossings-out are noteworthy. The formation of the Federal Reserve Bank and the development of the Progressive movement are also represented. These give researchers insights into the man who was making crucial decisions about his country’s involvement in finance, humanity-based policy, and the conflict that did not, in fact, “end all wars.”

The quality of documents is unquestionable. However, the search interface needs improvement to help researchers locate specific documents more quickly. The HELP function is a bit confusing. Though all commands appear on the same line, the user must first click ENTRY, SEARCH, or PREFERENCES, and then HELP to see tips on that function. It can take a while to figure this out. Surely listing all available topics under HELP would be more intuitive. Searching can be done by free text or proper name only, unless the user begins in the separate indexes, not in the database itself. This system harks back to the two-step paper index method. Specific field searching (subject, title, etc.) would make the product more valuable and efficient. The existence of alternative, free sources of Wilson papers (the Library of Congress’s offering claims to be the largest collection, though it is impossible to determine exactly to what degree they overlap) “does not make this a frugal choice in the current budget-slashing climate,” Miller wrote. For the full version of this review, go to Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —J. Stoehr, CHOICE