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

Freedom to Marry. Access: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/.

It has only been a little over a decade since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize marriage between same-sex couples. In 2004, the Massachusetts Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that had upheld the Commonwealth’s legislative ban on same-sex marriage. Despite this, few states followed suit. Some, including Vermont and New Jersey, established a separate but unequal system of civil unions, while others, like Kansas and Mississippi, reinforced inequality by banning same-sex marriage in their constitutions.

It was not until the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v Hodeges that marriage equality was achieved nationally. It is important to remember how short a time marriage equality has existed, and, in the current environment of state and national level threats to LGBTQIA+ rights, to know how it was achieved.

The Freedom to Marry Campaign was instrumental in fighting for marriage equality at the local, state, and national level, and maintained a presence in all 50 states as the fight for equality was waged. Having won the right to marry, the organization’s website now serves as a comprehensive archive of the fight. The site provides users with a detailed account of how activists, allies, lawyers, clergy, and government officials achieved this most basic right in some states, and eventually in the Supreme Court.

Useful to both the casual browser and researchers, the Freedom to Marry site includes a state-by-state timeline of the fight for marriage equality, with an easy to use map interface. More than simply an account of how it happened, the site explores why it matters, showing how changing minds through constant dialogue and publicity made what seemed unlikely as recent as the aughts, an accepted right in the minds of a majority of Americans. The site also reflects on the lessons learned in the fight, and links to the Berkeley Library’s oral history project on the two decades-long battle.—Bart Everts, Rutgers University-Camden, beverts@libraries.rutgers.edu

Modernist Journals Project. Access: http://modjourn.org.

The Modernist Journals Project is an archive of modernist magazines from the English-speaking world for the dates 1890 to 1922. It is a joint project of Brown University and the University of Tulsa. Their mission is “to produce digital editions of culturally significant magazines from around the early 20th century and make them freely available to the public.”

The website is divided into several sections, with digitized journals as the most prominent. The “Journals” section contains cover-to-cover content of 28 journals, including advertising. These journals can be searched through basic or advanced searches. The results list provides a list of records, and selecting one of the results takes the reader to the journal issue rather than the result itself. Once on the journal page, the user has the option to download the entire issue or view high-quality page images.

Searching and locating the text are this resource’s weakest point. Searching for a poem retrieved 41 items, but many of the results were advertisements or reviews. After finally finding the poem, it was necessary to look at the table of contents to locate the page numbers. However, the page numbers do not correspond to the scanned pages, which requires additional hunting for the poem. Finding items that are not listed in the table of contents (such as an advertisement) is even more cumbersome. The user must download the PDF, search the PDF for the term, and then return to the webpage to find the high-resolution image.

Other sections of the website include biographies of authors and artists whose works appear in the journals, books, and essays about modernist periodicals, a list of literary and art journals that are not digitized, and classroom materials that appear to have last been edited almost seven years ago. A unique feature is the “MJP Lab,” a place to download statistical files compiled from the journals’ contents. These statistics can be used for data visualization.

While this is a great resource for those who want to view digital pages of modernist journals, the search is so unwieldy that users will get frustrated and end up Googling instead. Until it becomes more user-friendly and the additional resources are updated, the Modernists Journal Project is recommended with reservations.—Delores Carlito, University of Alabama-Birmingham, dcarlito@uab.edu

Prison Policy Initiative. Access: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/.

Once you get past the appeal to donate, which dominates the prime real estate of every page, this site has unique content to offer. Since 2001, the nonprofit think tank Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) has researched and published information about the negative effects of “mass incarceration” and other prison practices on U.S. society. As such, it provides a striking addition to national conversations on criminal justice issues, especially prison reform.

The PPI Board of Directors and Advisors hail from a variety of academic disciplines and relevant backgrounds. Its researchers—including legal professionals, policy analysts, college interns, and volunteers—analyze government data (e.g., state, local, national, international) from census reports, justice statistics, and other sources to develop and support their claims. Infographics aplenty punctuate the facts, offering both a quick glance and in-depth read on most of the issues discussed.

As of this writing, the latest Annual Report (2016–17) provides a good overview of PPI’s goal to educate the public in order to help provide “fairer, more effective justice policies.” Short summations on current research—such as problems with local jails, probation, exploitation of released prisoners, the prison phone call system—help the lay person understand better why prison reform is a “public health necessity” for us all.

Users can access substantive documents, brief reports, factsheets, videos, and more via various means on the site. The usual social media links and a search box are located at the top of each page. A “Blog” tab links to the latest reports, such as “Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018.” “Publications” displays all the reports chronologically going back to the 2002 report “Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in New York. “The “Expertise” tab offers sections such as “National Facts,” “State Facts,” and “Data Visualizations,” as well as specific issues, including “Exploitation,” “Jails and Bails,” “Prison Gerrymandering.”

PPI is aggressive and passionate about drawing attention to its cause, so the site can feel a bit heavy-handed. But a quick check on the Internet reveals PPI is cited and supported by many mainstream organizations (albeit mostly left-leaning). PPI makes and backs up its case with well-documented research and appealing graphics, and counterbalances much that one would find elsewhere.

For those researching prisons and justice reform, this site is a must.—Barbara Valentine, Linfield College, bvalen@linfield.edu

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