All posts by Gerald Doyle

New Trial: Cambridge Histories Online

Temple Libraries currently have running, through 6/27/08, a trial to Cambridge Histories Online. This sub-collection of the larger Cambridge Collections Online, which also includes the already available Cambridge Companions titles, includes digital access to over 250 volumes of the vaunted “Cambridge Histories” series published since 1960. Find more information about Cambridge Histories Online here.

Open Access Journals

Beginning in the 1980s but accelerating over the last decade, libraries have been unable to keep pace with the skyrocketing costs of scholarly journals. For both private and publicly-supported research universities the publication “circle” looks something like this: 1) scholar obtains money to conduct research, perhaps through government grants or internal, tuition-supported funding; 2) scholar conducts and then publishes research in peer-reviewed journal; 3) university library “buys back” scholarly research from for-profit or societal journal publishers. The problem? Academic libraries, whose budgets sometimes do not even take inflation into account from year to year, can no longer afford to buy journal titles, especially in the sciences. Did you know, for example, that the annual $19,396 paid by Brown University Library for the journal Nuclear Physics A & B, matches the price of a “new midsize car” (Brown University’s George Street Journal).

Libraries and others who care about open access to scholarly information are fighting back. “SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system… It’s pragmatic focus is to stimulate the emergence of new scholarly communications models that expand the dissemination of scholarly research and reduce financial pressures on libraries” (About SPARC). The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is another such initiative. DOAJ defines open access journals as ones that “use a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access” (About DOAJ). Explore DOAJ’s list of 110 scholarly, open access journals in history. 
Who benefits from these initiatives? In my view scholars, libraries, small and even large publishers benefit when research is made readily available to industry and the public at large. Think about it this way: It is reasonable to expect that the public will be more willing to support research that is readily available, and that the impact of this research will be greater and longer lasting.
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing the open access community is scholars’ fear that publishing in open access journals will not advance careers or lead to tenure. After all, academic journals were created in the first place, in part, to promote the careers of authors. Scholars are also often concerned with a journal’s impact factor. Despite these concerns, however, new information technologies and initiatives such as SPARC and DOAJ are here to stay. Consider the benefits of open access today!

Two New History Databases: Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1974-1996 and AccessUN

Temple University Libraries recently acquired Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1974-1996, an important new digital archive of full-text translations of foreign news sources from all areas of the world. FBIS will be of particular interest to anyone studying the Cold War and other major events of the last three decades of the 20th century. Currently Temple has complete online access to the parts of the database published by Readex to date, namely Parts 1 and 2, and which include material from the Middle East/Near East, South Asia, and Africa. Additional material from China (Part 3), Latin America (Part 5), and the former Soviet Union (Part 7) are scheduled to be released between summer 2008 and summer 2009. 

Because FBIS contains historical content (1974-1996), it complements rather than competes with NewsBank’s Access World News / AWN (1996 to date), and Dialog’s World News Connection / WNC (1995 to date), two Temple databases that already provide access to foreign news sources in translation. FBIS dovetails nicely with DNSA and DDRS, two primary-source databases covering the same historical era. FBIS also complements AccessUN, yet another historical Readex database now available to Temple affiliates. AccessUN is a commercially published index to United Nations documents and publications. It includes resolutions, treaties, and UN periodicals and covers the years 1945 to date.
For more information and links to all of the above databases, please see the History Libguide. Contact me with questions or concerns.

Library Prize: History Department on a Roll

For the second year in a row the History Department has representatives in both the winner and honorable mention categories of the Library Prize competition. Congratulations to Maureen Whitsett (winner) and her faculty sponsors Liz Varon and Petra Goedde, and to Brian Chambers (honorable mention) and his faculty sponsors Liz Varon, Petra Goedde, and Art Schmidt. For more information, including (eventually) photos and downloadable PDFs of the students’ projects, see the Winners page on the Library Prize website.

New Trial: SimplyMap Historical Package

If you’ve never checked out SimplyMap, by all means take a look. SimplyMap is a web-based mapping application with a user-friendly interface that permits users to quickly and easily create professional-quality thematic maps and reports using thousands of demographic, business, and marketing variables. Maps can be exported as high-resolution images to word processing or presentation software; data can be selected, sorted, and compared across multiple locations to build custom reports that can be exported to a spreadsheet. Demographic Variables: population, age, race, income, ancestry, marital status, housing, employment, transportation, families, and more. 2000 census data is available along with current year estimates and 5 year projections. Data is available by census block-groups, census tracts, ZIP codes, cities, counties, states, and the entire United States. 

The Historical Package Trial incorporates the following: 1980 Census in year 2000 Geography, 1990 Census in year 2000 Geography, Additional year 2000 Census Variables, Additional Current Year Census Estimates, Additional 5 Year Estimates Census Estimates. Give it a try if your project deals with the period from 1980 forward. The Historical Package trial ends 4/30/08. Access to the 2000 census data will continue to be available after that date.

New Trial: Crossroads for Newsbank Databases

With Crossroads, Temple users of certain Newsbank history databases such as early American Imprints and Early American Newspapers can now create private or shared collections of primary documents, permanently bookmark documents, and easily tag, annotate and comment on a vast range of materials.

Students might use the service to organize their research, write a note at just the right spot within a primary document, and collaborate with their classmates. Instructors might use the service to create reading lists for students, highlight an important passage within a document, lead online discussions around specific documents, and create and organize custom collections of documents for their own research.

Crossroads is currently available on a trial basis to the entire Temple University community. Links to the service appear directly within Early American Imprints, Series I and II. Please contact me with questions or for a demo.

Gutenberg-e: History Monographs Online

Gutenberg-e, a digital book project jointly developed by the American Historical Association and Columbia University, is now open and available to anyone with an internet connection. Gutenberg-e currently provides full-text access to 22 scholarly history monographs with a 2000 or later copyright date. Eventually 36 award-winning titles will be made available through both the project’s website and the ACLS Humanities E-Book Project.

The project hoped to find out whether or not “born digital” history monographs can compete with scholarly monographs published under a traditional print model. The good news is that the young scholars who authored the e-Books in Gutenberg-e all received tenure at their respective institutions. For more information about the project see the AHA Today announcement and this post on Library Journal’s Academic NewsWire.

The Teaching Professor

The Libraries have recently acquired a site license to The Teaching Professor, an online newsletter designed to assist faculty with the practical side of teaching. The Teaching Professor helps instructors to:

  • Overcome obstacles to effective teaching
  • Stay abreast of the latest pedagogical research
  • Hear what’s working for colleagues “in the trenches”
  • Hone skills and stay on top of teaching innovations
  • Truly connect with students

Here’s an excerpt from an article titled Faculty Self-Disclosures in the College Classroom from the April, 2007 issue: “While interviewing university faculty for a study about classroom communication, ‘Jim,’ a professor of history, made this comment about a colleague he had observed teaching: ‘I was really amazed, when I saw him teach, how little of his personality you see.’ This starkly contrasted with his perception of his own teaching style, about which he said, ‘I try to use humor a lot. My dad says I just think funny, you know, and I do; it’s hard for me not to joke around.’ This comment started me wondering about how much of ourselves we let our students see.” The articles in The Teaching Professor are brief and to the point. Worth a look. —David C. Murray

New Platform for ABC-CLIO Databases

The two ABC-CLIO databases, America: History & Life and Historical Abstracts, are now available on the familiar EBSCOhost platform. Advantages of having these core history databases on Ebsco include multiple database searching; easy linking to full-text databases such as JSTOR; personalized folders, a part of My EBSCOhost, for those who choose to create personalized accounts; the Historical Period Limiter, a way to find articles that discuss an event or events that occurred within a specific time frame; and a new cited reference search encompassing both databases. This last feature can be used in conjunction with Web of Science to more accurately gauge the importance to the field of history of any refereed journal article. —David C. Murray

Featured Database: Gale Virtual Reference Library

A Temple News reporter recently asked me about underutilized library resources. She wanted to know which resources, if more widely known, would have the greatest positive impact on students’ research. At first I thought about JSTOR, Periodicals Archive Online, and other high-profile journal databases. After some additional thought I began to realize that another category of resources receives far too little attention in today’s research environment. I’m talking about general reference material — scholarly encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, statistical sources, and bibliographies. After all, finding reliable background information — a primary purpose of reference works — is absolutely critical to good research. Temple subscribes to several databases that provide digital versions of traditional encyclopedias and other reference sources. Among these databases are ABC-CLIO eBooks, Cambridge Companions, Credo Reference (formerly xreferplus), Gale Virtual Reference Library, netLibrary Reference Center, Oxford Reference Online, Reference Universe, and Sage eReference. For history researchers, each of these databases has something to offer. Here I will highlight the Gale Virtual Reference Library, a database that provides full-text access to twenty history reference works, including these four noteworthy titles: Encyclopaedia Judaica.jpg Encyclopaedia Judaica: Provides an exhaustive and organized overview of Jewish life and knowledge from the Second Temple period to the contemporary State of Israel, from Rabbinic to modern Yiddish literature, from Kabbalah to Americana and from Zionism to the contribution of Jews to world cultures, Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd edition is important to scholars, general readers and students. European Social History.jpg Encyclopedia of European Social History: This six-volume reference includes more than 230 articles, ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 words, on everything from serfdom and the economy, to witchcraft and public health. Modern Middle East.jpg Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa: The set covers the modern history of the Middle East and North Africa, with major sections on Colonialism and Imperialism, the World Wars, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the United Nations involvement in the region. Each country in the region is reviewed, detailing its population, economy and government. History of Ideas.jpg New Dictionary of the History of Ideas: A six-volume survey of the history of Western thought and culture, presented through 700 alphabetically arranged entries. Each entry explores the origin, cultural interpretations, and historical themes of such subjects as beauty, love, feminism, diversity, and social capital, among many others. —David C. Murray