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College & Research Libraries News

Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts and Carol A. Drost, editors

Public Agenda Online. Access:http:// www.publicagenda.oig/.

Public Agenda Online is a free, Web-based public information service managed by Public Agenda, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. Public Agenda was founded in 1975 by former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and social sci entist and author Daniel Yankelovich, and its mission is to provide balanced information on key public issues. Public Agenda gathers public opinion data from a wide variety of sources, including surveys conducted by most major opinion research organizations. In some areas, Public Agenda has conducted extensive research itself. Public Agenda then prepares reports and studies and offers the data via several venues on its Web site. Public Agenda Online highlights key public issues and hot topics and offers information about the parent organization, its staff, newsletter, and sponsored programs and workshops.

A column down the left-hand side of the homepage offers links to different sections of the site. “The Issues” includes 21 topics ranging from the economy and the environment to medical research and social security. Each issue is divided into two sections: Understanding the Issue (provides factual information on each issue) and Public Opinion (offers data gathered from a variety of opinion research organizations).

This area of the site offers a wide range of data and commentary on each given issue, including polling data, selections from current newspapers and magazines, and brief position statements on an aspect of that issue.

Also on the homepage are “In the Headlines,” which looks at current news items, and “About Polling,” which gives an overview of the polling process and opinion research; a good site map; and a keyword searching option. One can also view summaries of in-depth Public Agenda Research Studies. These reports range from 30 to 60 pages, and the most current published report is available at no charge for a limited time (in PDF format) to registered users; previously published reports are available in print only, for a fee.

The audience for Public Agenda Online ranges from researchers and policy-makers to concerned citizens and activists. For an academic audience, this site serves as a starting point for students who want to understand how the public weighs in on key issues. Other sources offer polling data (such as pollingreport.com or the Gallup Poll in print or online), but Public Agenda Online combines statistics and commentary in an organized, easy- to-understand format.—Caroline L. Gilson, DePauw University, cgilson@depauw.edu

Early Modern Women Database. Access:http://www.lib.umd.edu/ETC/LOCAL/ emw/emw.php3/.

The Early Modern Women Database, created as a portal to more than 200 Web resources for the study of women in early modern Europe and the Americas, focuses on the time period from the 14th to early 19th centuries, although primary and secondary resources from antiquity to the present are represented here as well.

Materials range from bibliographic databases (including catalogs of libraries worldwide) to full- text resources, image collections, manuscript and archival collections, and sound recordings. The majority of the resources included are freely accessible, and those requiring a subscription license are clearly noted.

The database was produced through the collaborative scholarly and technical efforts of members from the Arts and Humanities and Science and Technology teams at the University of Maryland Libraries.

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

This is an extremely straightforward database to navigate with little frills. Search features include a “Browse All” by title, subject, type, time period, language, and geographic area, although at the time of review only the title and subject browse selection retrieved results. Additionally, users can browse within each of the aforementioned categories to narrow their focus or query. Subjects include art and architecture, history, literature, music, performing arts, philosophy and religion, science and technology, and multidisciplinary. Geographic areas include Americas, France, Germany/Holy Roman Empire, Great Britain, and Spain and Portugal.

Researchers also can perform a simple keyword/phrase or advanced search from the opening screen. Results are displayed alphabetically and contain a brief description of the resource. The advanced search mode allows users to select values via a series of pull-down menus, with the added bonus of limiting by free access, subscription only, or no access limits.

Resources vary from the comprehensive “Internet Women's Histoiy Sourcebook,” which presents information within broadly defined historical periods and areas; to a site devoted solely to Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, a Mexican poet and nun from the 16OOs; to “Sophie: A Digital Library of Early German Women’s Writing.”

The site appears to be well-maintained and updated, and only a handful of Web resources had moved or retrieved error messages during the review period. The intended audience for the Early Modern Women Database includes high school students and scholars. Because of the simple navigation and display, anyone whose interest lies in early women’s studies within an international humanities framework will thoroughly benefit from this scholarly collection of resources. Recommended.—Gail Golderman, UnionCollege, goldermig@iunion.edu

The Mississippi Writers Page. Access:http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/ms- writers/.

The Department of English at the University of Mississippi has created a site dedicated to those writers either born in Mississippi or who spent a significant portion of their lives in Mississippi. While still partially under construction, the site offers visitors biographical information on Mississippi writers, as well as a list of their published titles, any awards or honors he or she has received, a bibliography for further reading, and any applicable Web sites.

Contributors to the site include English professors from the University of Mississippi, Ph.D. candidates, librarians, and graduate students. The Writers Page has specific guidelines for including an author in the database, as well as instructions on how to contribute to the site.

The navigation bar on the homepage provides quick and easy access to each feature of the Web site. From the homepage, visitors can click directly on “Writers Listings” to locate the 260 authors included in this site. Users may choose one of several methods to browse the listings: by author’s last name, publication title, a location in Mississippi associated with the author, the year of the author’s birth or death, or by genre (drama, fiction, nonfiction, or poetry).

A noteworthy addition to the browse option is a map of literary landmarks, where links are made directly to an author using a map, A timeline of “Literary History” connects authors to a specific year or date. A recent title list complete with annotations and book reviews is available, as well as news and events regarding Mississippi writers. If visitors want more information on literature in Mississippi, they can find a listing of regional magazines and journals under “Publishers” or they can find a list of literary organizations in Mississippi under “Other Features.” Particularly entertaining is the “On this day in Mississippi literary history” feature, visible on the homepage, which gives viewers just a morsel of literary history in Mississippi.

The site is well organized, easy to navigate, and consistent in its design. Users can search the site itself, and a keyword search for the author database is coming soon. While information on some of the authors still needs to be added, the site has been active since 1996 and is up-to-date.

The Mississippi Writers Page fills a unique niche for those studying American literature or for anyone interested in learning more about Mississippi writers.—Debbi Renfrow, National University, drenfroιv@nu.edu

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