Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost

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

Harvard University Library Open Collections Program. Access:

Gene Hyde, Radford University,

Since its inception in 2002, Harvard’s Open Collections Program (OCP) has developed online collections of annotated, thematically related materials selected from Harvard’s libraries, archives, and museums. Collections include digitized photographs, pamphlets, maps, letters, field notes, and other original source materials.

OCP’s collections present carefully curated collections that combine the Web site aesthetics of an online exhibit with primary research materials of a research collection. To date, OCP contains five different collections: “Immigration to the United States, 1789–1930,” “Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics,” “Expeditions and Discoveries: Sponsored Exploration and Scientific Discovery in the Modern Age,” “Islamic Heritage Project,” and “Women Working, 1800–1930” (the latter was reviewed in C&RL News in April 2006). A sixth collection, “Reading,” is currently under development.

An examination of “Expeditions and Discoveries” illustrates the depth and richness available in an OCP collection. An introductory essay describes the collection, with a list of nine featured expeditions listed on the left. Clicking on “Albatross Expeditions” describes the voyages made by the scientific ship Albatross between 1891 and 1905. There’s the option to browse all items, which presents a list of 46 records of materials related to the Albatross’ voyages, including notebooks, maps, official reports, letters, and other documents. Each record includes a link to a scanned, easily navigable original document. There is also a search feature for each collection that allows limiting to catalog records or many of the full-text documents within a collection.

The Albatross collection also contains a list of selected full-text original documents and related publications, links to other resources that include related scientific reports and specimen records from the Albatross, as well as a bibliography of secondary resources.

The Albatross collection is but one of more than 30 expeditions in the “Expeditions and Discoveries” collection. It’s representative of what OCP does so well—providing an annotated narrative about the collection, links to digitized relevant primary documents and materials, and a bibliography for further research. This model is repeated, with minor variations, throughout the collections.

Through careful selection, thoughtful presentation, and excellent digitization, OCP provides online users with solid research materials from Harvard’s extensive holdings. Researchers with an interest in any of the topics in OCP’s holdings will want to start their research here.

International Institute of Social History. Access:

Larry Cooperman, Everglades University,

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2010, the International Institute of Social History (IISH) is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and, according to their Web site, “the world’s largest documentation and research centre in the field of social history,” containing more than 2 million printed volumes and audiovisual material, as well as more than 3,000 social history archives. Also included in the IISH’s collections are the Netherlands Economic History Archive and Persmuseum (the Netherlands Press Museum). The materials available in IISH’s collections and archives run an impressive and wide spectrum across the history of social sciences, from Robert Owen’s papers and Emma Goldman’s papers through Dutch colonial history and Russian émigré journals.

The IISH site is well organized and easy to navigate; all of the major sections (except for Digital Resources) can be found on the lefthand side the Web page. Scholars can begin their research in “Collections,” searching the institute’s collection or Web site simultaneously or separately. Users can search the IISH’s archives collection by archive title, by country, and by most visited and consulted archives. The IISH Web site also provides a resourceful guide to which archives can and cannot be consulted (e.g., what is temporarily unavailable for viewing).

Also from the “Collections” page, researchers can search “Image and Sound,” and access approximately 250,000 photographs, more than 100,000 posters, and more than 6,000 films and videos. A helpful item index can be found on the lefthand side of the Web page; a quick click to the thesaurus link on this page leads to a subject index. All of the materials available in the sound and image archive, with links detailing their exact content, can be found at the bottom of the page.

As mentioned above, Digital Resources, located on the righthand side of the homepage, contains a varied roster of social history topics, including the “History of Work,” “Women’s History,” and “Historical Prices and Wages.” Each link contains numerous titles and images for research. Finally, IISH provides voluminous and detailed virtual library links dealing with labor history, economic history, and business history.

While most social history scholars and researchers may not be able to travel to Amsterdam to search the IISH’s collections and archives in person, they can definitely do so through their well-organized, content-rich Web site, which is highly recommended for all social history scholars.

World Resources Institute. Access:

Ann Flower, Monterey Institute of International Studies,

The World Resources Institute (WRI) is an environmental think tank that promotes not only research, but also education and active discussion of solutions to global environmental problems. Their Web site is clean, simple, and visually interesting.

Information that is frequently updated is featured above the fold via a slide show and newsfeed of current stories from WRI’s blog and linked articles from online news sources. The newsfeed and slides are updated frequently, keeping the site current and fresh. The organization encourages involvement through the use of a “Join our Community” page that invites users to interact through social media tools like Facebook and Twitter.

The organization’s work emphasizes four core topic areas: “Climate, Energy & Transport;” “Governance & Access;” “Markets & Enterprise;” and “People & Ecosystems.” Buttons link users to subpages for each of these main topics; each page has WRI project descriptions and documentation, news, publications, charts and maps, plus key staff and contact information. A fifth “More Topics” subpage provides a dropdown list of other WRI project topics.

Users who want to go directly to WRI publications or information about the organization may navigate using the top bar. Publications range from brochures and working papers to more extensive studies. The annual publication World Resources provides a report on a broad theme (the focus for 2008 was poverty and the environment) combined with data tables and case studies. All publications are available as free PDF downloads.

For more serious research, users may link to “EarthTrends,” the WRI research database. With a similar organization by broad topic, “EarthTrends” features excellent, although somewhat dated country profiles, searchable data, maps, and information guides for each topic. 3-D maps on the country profiles pages require the Google Earth plug-in. With its frequently updated international news coverage and research publications and data on global environmental issues, the WRI Web site is an outstanding resource for students of environmental policy.

Copyright © American Library Association, 2010

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