Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost


Institute for Water Resources, US Army Corps of Engineers. Access: http://www.iwr.usace.army.mil.

John Repplinger, Willamette University, jrepplin@willamette.edu

Water management is one of the greatest issues that the United States will face in the future. The Institute for Water Resources (IWR), established in 1969 by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), is strategically placed to help analyze the nation’s water resource trends and issues, contribute hydrological engineering planning, and manage the collection and dissemination of national data related to USACE civil works projects.

The IWR homepage sports a variety of information sections, including prominent links to the seven major technical centers that report to IWR. Many of the reports and documents are created by and located through these centers. To access these documents, a free account must first be setup. Also on the homepage is the Inside the Institute section that lists popular resources related to IWR (e.g., Responses to Climate Change), plus two additional sections for the latest and featured IWR stories.

Looking closer at these centers, one will notice a variety of content. For example, the Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC) provides the latest software releases to its Hydrologic Modeling System. This software is used to study surface and groundwater hydrology, river hydraulics and sediment transport, hydrologic statistics and risk analysis, future flow forecasting, and more. However, it is unclear whether the software is geographically limited to USACE civil works projects.

The “Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center,” as another example, houses geospacial data, interactive maps of nearly 10,000 U.S. ports, waterborne statistics, ports and state data, and more. The “Conflict Resolution & Public Participation Center of Expertise,” a relatively new technical center created in 2008, contains pertinent laws, policy, guidance, and services it offers to help resolve management issues dealing with our nation’s waters.

Another important feature is the library link on the main navigation bar. It provides a quick access route to IWR documents, and includes HEC publications, Navigation Data Center publications, IWR software, USACE publications, Office of Management and Budget surveys, and access to the Maass-White Reference Room.

Overall, this website will be useful to those who research water policy and management, engineering, hydrology and climate change, or more generally those who are seeking information related to the nation’s water resources.

Willa Cather Archive. Access: http://cather.unl.edu/.

Delores Carlito, University of Alabama-Birmingham, dcarlito@uab.edu

The Willa Cather Archive, sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, describes itself as “an ambitious endeavor to create a rich, useful, and widely accessible site for the study of Willa Cather’s life and writings.” And ambitious it is. Redesigned in May of this year, it states it is now “even mobile-friendly.”

The website for the Willa Cather Archive is divided into six sections: “Writings,” “Life,” “Scholarship,” “Images & Multimedia,” “Community,” and “About.” The meat of the website is in the first four sections.

In “Writings,” there are eight first editions of her books and five Willa Cather Scholarly Editions. The first editions contain all images and page breaks, with a transcript of the page together with the page image. The short stories and essays that originally appeared in periodicals are scanned from the original periodical page. In addition, there are 33 interviews with Cather, eight speeches, and ten public letters.

“Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather, An Expanded, Digital Edition” is a version of the 2002 print volume, and the archive is currently working on a complete set of 3,000 letters. The user can currently search more than 2,000 letters by date, people to whom the letters were written, literary characters she created, and even keywords. Some letters are short, such as “Going on to Boston, then to Jaffrey, N.H. Probably not back to New York before mid-October. Willa Cather,” and some are more substantial.

This site has a unique geographic chronology feature. Users can see where Cather traveled, when she traveled, and with whom she visited. Users can zoom in to an area and select a place she visited (notated by an icon); clicking on the icon gives the reader information on the location and why she was there (including a citation for the information). Users can also browse the map by time period or location.

The “Bibliography of Cather’s Readings” is an attempt to provide scholars with a “reference guide to the hundreds of direct references to written material Cather makes in her work and letters.” References range from Robert Burns to Mother Goose.

Whether one is new to her works and just wants to read My Ántonia or one is a scholar wanting to view a concordance of O Pioneers!, this site will satisfy all.

World Bank Data. Access: http://data.worldbank.org.

Sue Wortman, University of Michigan, swortman@umich.edu

July 1, 2015, marked the five-year anniversary of the World Bank’s Policy on Access to Information and its Open Data Initiative, which provide a portal of open, free data gathered by the World Bank Group. It now includes free access to more than 18,000 social, economic, population, and development indicators for 218 countries, regions, and groups of countries with a data catalog of more than 1,160 data sets, tables, databases, reports, and other resources.

The amount of information available at World Bank Data can be overwhelming when first visiting the site, however the main page is organized for easy access to a variety of tools and features, making it simple to start learning the basics immediately. Data can be accessed from the main page by either browsing a list of countries, broad topics, or individual indicators, which quickly provide profiles and summaries of indicators. For example, by selecting Greece, one discovers population totals and the country’s Gross Domestic Product, World Development Indicators on life expectancy, school enrollment, CO2 emissions, and Gross National Income data for the country, as well as financial figures, average rainfall, and temperatures.

Researchers may access time series data at “DataBank,” where they can create their own profile to save, share, or embed graphics and customize and download their own spreadsheets. “DataBank” may take some practice to appreciate all of the features and options available, but the site has excellent support tools, which include materials on getting started, a knowledge base, help desk, videos, and open data training modules.

The Microdata Library contains data sets based on surveys of households, businesses, and more produced by the World Bank and other international organizations. This resource includes copies of survey questionnaires, descriptions of study designs and reports, as well as the raw data.

This site is an excellent hub for global data covering a wide range of topics and includes educational data, climate change and environmental information, agriculture and economic information, measures of poverty, health, gender equity, and more. It is well organized, relatively simple to navigate, and provides many visualization tools and apps. Students and researchers from a variety of disciplines will find this website useful.

Copyright 2015© American Library Association

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