Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts is associate university librarian for public services and collection development at Willamette University, email: jroberts@willamette.edu, and Carol A. Drost is associate university librarian for technical services at Willamette University, email: cdrost@willamette.edu

GreenFacts. Access: https://www.greenfacts.org/en/index.htm.

The stated mission of GreenFacts is “to bring the factual content of complex scientific consensus reports on health and the environment to the reach of non-specialists.” The organization publishes peer-reviewed digests summarizing the key findings of reports from independent international organizations such as the World Health Organization, as well as co-reports produced under contract with the European Commission. The scope of coverage is broad and encompasses a number of topics frequently under public debate, including genetically modified organisms and climate change.

Digests are presented in a question-and-answer format and are available in both a summary and a detailed view. Summaries are typically several hundred to a few thousand words in length, with the detailed version running around two-to-three times the length of the summary. A third level of detail provides direct quotes from the source document. Every report also includes a link to the source, as well as related publications and alternative views when appropriate.

Though accessibility is a major goal, GreenFacts does not oversimplify the scientific content of the source materials. A glossary is included on the site, and definitions are available as pop-ups throughout. Some publications are also available in alternate formats, like a highlighted view focusing on key points, a leaflet, or a video.

The contents of the website are navigable via an A to Z list, thematic groupings (e.g., energy), a sitemap, or a Google custom search. Because of the international focus of the organization, the site is suffused with multilingual options. Every research summary is available in at least English and French, with Dutch, German, and Spanish frequently available, as well.

The GreenFacts organization has previously been criticized for its closeness to the chemical industry, and it continues to list major European chemical industry groups as its “main partners.” However, the organization has bolstered its credibility by diversifying its partnerships and funding sources, and a close reading of several topics with which the reviewer is familiar indicate an accurate representation of the source document and the scientific consensus. Users are cautioned, however, that a recent site redesign appears to have resulted in a number of broken links to nonessential pages and some off-site content.

GreenFacts may be useful to lower-division undergraduates, scientific outreach organizations, and other nonspecialists seeking faithful summaries of complex international reports.—Zachary Sharrow, College of Wooster, zsharrow@wooster.edu

Homeland Security Digital Library. Access: https://www.hsdl.org/.

The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) is a curated collection of several hundred thousand U.S. government documents pertaining to homeland security. Its curators take a broad definition of “homeland security,” encompassing counterterrorism and airport screening but also disaster preparedness, transportation, foreign relations, and more. HSDL is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Naval Postgraduate School. The website uses responsive design, adjusting seamlessly to fit the screen of any mobile device used to access it. The look and feel is clean and visually appealing.

Designed for discovery rather than preservation, HSDL aggregates a wide range of U.S. policy and strategic documents, Congressional Research Service and Government Accountability Office reports, Naval Postgraduate School theses and dissertations, FEMA reports, glossaries, legislation, executive orders, and more. Users can browse more than 30 topics, ranging from wildfires to piracy, each with featured documents. Users can perform advanced searches and sort search results by relevance, agency, author, date, format, language, and collection or resource type. HSDL aims to be current rather than archival, though some of its content dates back to the 1990s. In addition, HSDL offers a weekly blog, email alerts for newly added content, and an “Ask a Librarian” email reference service available to the public free of charge.

Access to content may require institutional affiliation. HSDL’s Restricted Collection limits access to U.S. citizens who are government employees (federal, state, local, tribal, or military). The Public Collection has 93,500 resources and is free and open to all, while the Full Collection has 166,400 resources but requires a U.S. personal or organizational account to access. Eligible organizations must be military entities, government agencies, or “public-sector research institutions or university libraries.” Representatives seeking access must email HSDL with their organizations’ details and IP ranges. Individual account holders must be U.S. citizens affiliated with a government or research entity.

HSDL is valuable for both academics and practitioners—anyone researching homeland security or disaster issues. Faculty and graduate students will find that HSDL is not comprehensive and lacks historical or unique content. HSDL does not disclose its collection development criteria or what is (un)represented. That said, it is a boon for undergraduates, practitioners, and curiosity-seekers alike.—Michael Rodriguez, University of Connecticut, michael.a.rodriguez@uconn.edu

Massachusetts Historical Society. Access: http://www.masshist.org/.

The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) provides extensive and freely accessible online resources for the study of personal papers of three presidents—John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson—as well as the lives of thousands of ordinary Americans. The website has a number of thoughtful digital initiatives, many of which are best used in conjunction with an online visit. The interface is attractive and rational, with generally clear provision for navigation and for sharing via email or social media.

Expected points of entry to the MHS collections include ABIGAIL, the online catalog, and hundreds of updated and encoded finding guides to manuscript and photograph collections. Researchers can browse sorted alphabetical lists of the guides or use a simple keyword box to search between and within finding guides. Discovery can take place on multiple levels. The Wolcott family Civil War carte de visite album, as one example, is described in ABIGAIL at the collection level and then unpacked further in the finding guide with links to digital objects when available. A simple search of the entire site is also possible.

The Online Adams Catalog (OAC), is an item-level digital resource for those studying the Adams family and the wide circle of people and institutions with which their lives intersected from 1639 to 1889. This innovative adaptation of a 50-year old paper catalog is a resource for end users as well as for digital humanities practitioners seeking project models for encoding and representing data. Developed as a collaboration between MHS and the Adams Papers documentary editing project, OAC offers researchers the opportunity to see transcribed and annotated documents in multiple public and private repositories, many of them linked to digital surrogates.

Those seeking curated bundles of primary sources and digital images will find more than 40 subcollections by keyword or limiting by facets, including subject, time period, and medium. The “Collection Highlights” browser offers a quicker glimpse. Still briefer and more targeted are the primary source-based K–12 lesson plans and pedagogical engagement materials from the Center for the Teaching of History. MHS might further enhance such offerings to map with ACRL frameworks and introductory college courses, as well to expand guidance about preferred citations.—Joshua Lupkin, Harvard University, joshua_lupkin@harvard.edu

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