Tag Archives: ARBA reviews

Historic Events of the 20th Century–ARBA 2005

Historic Events of the 20th Century [DRAFT]

Historic Events of the 20th Century (available from http://www.gem.greenwood.com) Greenwood Electronic Media. Pricing dependent on institution size and type of institution, $675-$1845.

The database is divided into six sections: Civil Rights Movement, Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union, the Holocaust, Islamic Fundamentalism, World War I and World War II. Subscriptions for one or all of the sections are available.

There is no way to search the entire Historic Events site, only individual sections. Each section opens with a preface, a narrative overview, a timeline of events (chronology) as well as topic links that, when clicked upon, displays additional links to documents on the topic, and an annotated bibliography. Information can be printed; a hotlink reformats documents for printing. The documents links appears on the left bar after clicking the topic. Documents for each topic are under ten and could be assembled from free websites, since most are famous documents or, in the case of civil rights and Islam, from contemporary sources. Getting out of the modules proved difficult, and I got lost on a few occasions. The Home link at the top of the page takes you to the Greenwood homepage not the Historic Events main page.

The timeline hotlinks open small browser windows with, what I assume, is supposed to be supplemental information. Hotlink results are uneven, at least in the timeline. In the civil rights section, the hotlink conviction of the murderer of Medgar Evers in 1994, takes one to the NewsDesk website of the University of Mississippi, where there was no additional information provided. The 1995 Supreme Court decision in Adarand Constructors v. Pena link takes you to the summary of the case at the FindLaw website, a database in the public domain. The 1992 Los Angeles Riots link opens a browser to the free NPR website for the 30th anniversary of All Things Considered, where a quote from a riot eyewitness is quoted with a link to hear the broadcast. Images for many of the links, such as (in the communism section) the 1921-1928 link for the Soviet Union’s New Economic Policy, Nicholas II and (in the Holocaust section) Paul von Hindenburg, opens a browser to LearnThings, a website for school newsletters in the United Kingdom that houses a small image of the event or person; no other additional information is provided. The timeline for Islamic fundamentalism lacks hotlinks of any kind.

Besides the Old Miss, FindLaw and NPR websites, many other links go to public websites as well. Lenin’s biography link takes you to the Lenin Internet Archive (http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/) while Brezhnev’s link takes you to CNN’s Knowledge Bank profile (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/brezhnev/). Many of the maps link directly to the CIA World Factbook website (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/). The link for Nagorno-Karabakh brings up the website of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo (http://www.prio.no/html/fig-p170.htm), which has free articles in pdf files on troubled places throughout the world.

The lesson plans for each section correlate to the National Center for History in the Schools, and there are quotes from the National History Standards. The standards are available online (http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/nchs/standards/) from UCLA. The lesson plans tie directly into the information housed in Historic Events. Greenwood’s information page lists prices not only for school libraries but also for public libraries as well as colleges and universities. Historic Events is geared towards school teachers.

Internet browsers can yield a plethora of reliable information. A Google advanced search on the phrase “Nicholas II” and the terms “Russian Revolution” with the restriction to educational institutions (.edu) yielded as the first hit the Internet Modern History Sourcebook (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook39.html) from Fordham University. A Yahoo advanced search using the same search terms yielded Bucknell University’s Russian History site (http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/history.html) as the third hit. These sites contain links to dynasty charts, original documents, chronologies and other goodies that can easily be used in teaching. Some of these links don’t work, but these sites aren’t paid databases, either.

Greenwood repackaged information readily available for free to anyone with Internet browsing capabilities. This is a perfect example of why teaching students and teachers searching strategies for the Internet are so important. This site is for the research-challenged. A good librarian or subject guide would be just as good if not better. Better yet, a resourceful and dedicated teacher—doing the research—can take the opportunity to teach Internet research and evaluation skills while teaching these subjects; it’s never too early to begin learning to evaluate information.

The University of California Riverside’s Infomine (http://infomine.ucr.edu) and the Best of History Web Sites (http://www.besthistorysites.net/index.shtml) are two more examples of free databases that will yield comparable results to Greenwood’s offering.

REVIEWED BY: Michael W. Handis

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Dictionary of Historic Documents–ARBA 2004

Dictionary of Historic Documents [DRAFT]

26732. Dictionary of Historic Documents. Rev. ed. George Childs Kohn, ed. New York, Facts on File, 2003. 646 p. index. (Facts on File Library of World History). $75.00. ISBN 0-8160-4772-3.

This first edition of this work was published in 1991. Having been expanded, this new edition contains nearly 2,400 entries that consist of edicts, legal cases, laws, treaties, proclamations, statements, truces, petitions, concordants, bulls, oaths, etc. Gaps in the first edition have been filled; the new entries range from women’s rights documents to Hitler’s last will and testament. Many of the new entries date from 1990-2000, including the German Unification Treaty, the Unabomber Manifesto, the NAFTA agreement, Bush vs. Gore and the USA-Patriot Act. Editor Kohn admits that any such work is subjective; however, the breadth of the dictionary is remarkable, stretching from the present back to ancient Mesopotamia.

The dictionary contains a helpful Timetable of Documents, which not only lists the year and name of the document, but also the area of the world involved. There is an alphabetical Entries by Category section which breaks up the documents by continent, empire and selected countries, such as Canada, Mexico and the United States. The selected bibliography is again broken up by categories.

Each entry is followed by a bibliography of at least one source. Many entries have books or articles listed, but in some cases the only source listed is a web site. In the preface Kohn warns that “readers should be aware that addresses of websites change frequently; those listed in the dictionary were current as of press time” (p. ix). Readers beware. I tested several of the URLs listed. Martin Luther’s Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation is on the Hanover Historical Text Project’s web site. Maintained by the Hanover College Department of History, the URL is active and contains the English translation of the document. (There are a number of other historical documents listed on the Hanover site.) Many of the legal documents, such as Gillette v. United States, have FindLaw URLs, which are stable. The link provided for the Addyston Pipe and Steel Company v. United States is dead; I could not find the sponsoring agency or group from the URL. For Clinton’s Second Inaugural Address, the URL for the transcript at the University of Oklahoma Law Center is active; the PBS News Hour web site URL for the reactions to the speech is not. Too bad about Grant’s Order No. 11, the edict Ulysses S. Grant issued to exclude Jews as a class from the Department of Tennessee which set off a storm of protest during the U.S. Civil War; the link was dead, and there was no way I could identify the agency. The Grolier Presents the American Presidency link for Grant’s First Inaugural Address was also dead. A more cautious approach to including URLs in bibliographies might be practiced in the future.

The dictionary is a great starting place for undergraduate research. It also provides excellent examples of what primary sources are, a concept many undergraduates have problems understanding. People interested in historical documents will also find this a useful resource.—Michael W. Handis, Associate Librarian for Technical Services and Collection Management, Mina Rees Library, City University of New York Graduate and University Center

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Anne M. Mitchell and Brian E. Surratt, Cataloging and Organizing Digital Resources: a How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians–ARBA 2006

Cataloging and Organizing Digital Resources: a How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians [DRAFT]

Mitchell, Anne M., and Brian E. Surratt. Cataloging and Organizing Digital Resources: a How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York, Neal-Schuman, 2005. 219p. index. (How-To-Do-It Manuals for Librarians, no.139). $75.00pa. ISBN 1-55570-521-9.

This book is not about how to select and digitize materials. The title does what it states: it gives ideas on how to organize and make accessible digital (and already digitized) resources. And it does it well.

No book of this type could be written without a discussion of the MARC record for continuing resources. Mitchell and Surratt go into great detail to illustrate the different MARC coding in the fixed and variable fields for different types of digital resources: databases, ebooks and online manuscripts, online journals, items “born digital,” i.e. those published only on the Web, items in print which are digitized, and theses. Ironically, print theses are considered unpublished; MARC records for printed theses do not have publisher information recorded. In the electronic environment, however, theses available full-text online are considered published. (The publisher information is recorded in brackets.)

At no time do the authors talk down or take a patronizing tone. They inform and do so with aplomb. Numerous examples of MARC tagging, MARC field definitions and homepages abound. They analyze what affects bibliographic control of digital resources. Numerous examples of different types of information and how to catalog such information is presented in readable (and digestable) form.

My favorite chapter (3) is “Exploring Alternatives to Cataloging.” Why catalog digital resources? Good question. There are other alternatives to entering a full MARC record into a library’s ILS. Constructing full MARC records is time-consuming, as any cataloger knows. Metadata creation is no different. Web lists are an alternative and can be much more visible and flexible. There are also companies, such as Serials Solutions, which provide an indexing and updating service for online materials on a regular basis. The drawback, of course, is that the resources are not available via subject or keyword searching, nor are they in the “one stop” ILS. Federated searching offers another way to find the resources, but some databases are not accessible to these search engines, and duplication can occur in some cases. Any choice of access offers benefits and drawbacks. The important point, the authors argue, is for libraries to adopt a bibliographic strategy with regard to the online resources available through the Web.

Each chapter has a bibliography at the end of it for more information. There is also a good index at the back of the book. The book is well-organized with good illustrations. Unfortunately, books of this type have a short shelf-life. In 2008, a new cataloging standard will be released. As of this writing, the plan is to abandon AACR for something more flexible and adaptable to multiple technological environments. Whether this comes to pass remains to be seen.

Regardless, Cataloging and Organizing Digital Resources is a valuable resource for librarians unfamiliar with the online environment and libraries just beginning to grapple with the problems of making online collections accessible.

REVIEWED BY: Michael W. Handis, Associate Librarian for Collection Management, The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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