Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost


Government Accountability Project. Access: http://www.whistleblower.org/.

Gerri Foudy, University of Maryland College Park, gfoudy@umd.edu

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public interest group with a mission to “promote corporate and government accountability by protecting whistleblowers, advancing occupational free speech, and empowering citizen activists.”

GAP also advocates for whistleblower protection legislation nationally and internationally, conducts an accredited legal clinic for law students, and offers a year-round internship program.

The GAP Web site has much information on current controversial issues, such as corporate and financial accountability, food integrity (for example, “pink slime” in beef), national security and human rights, and other environmental, health, and political topics. On the homepage, users can view the daily GAP Blog, which links the user to articles in the “Daily Whistleblower News,” and see recent press releases plus op-ed pieces published in various newspapers. There is a section for “Client Stories,” which gives background details about whistleblowers and their cases.

The Web site also has a well-developed multimedia section, which uses videos to convey information. Episodes of GAP’s television program, “Whistle Where You Work,” are available on the site. Most episodes highlight an interview with a whistleblower followed by a panel discussion with policy or media experts on whistleblowing, free speech, civil liberties, or general public interest issues. There are also video “Opinions” in which GAP staff members give synopses and analyses on breaking news or hot topics. Students would be able to use these videos as primary resources for their research.

GAP has a separate program called the Food Integrity Campaign; this program’s mission is to “enhance overall food integrity by facilitating truth telling.” This section of the site offers opinion, advocacy, and event videos and the actual text of landmark food legislation, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. There is also an interactive feature called “Regulatory Chaos at the Dinner Table,” where users can click on the picture of a food item and find out which agencies regulate the safety of the item. “Lifecycle of Food” details the issues raised by giant agribusiness.

Overall the GAP Web site is very informative on the issue of whistleblowing and its related topics. Recommended for students interested in finding out about the testimony and stories of whistleblowers as well as the related public policies involved.

National Agricultural Statistics Service. Access: www.nass.usda.gov.

John Repplinger, Willamette University, jrepplin@willamette.edu

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has been around for decades. The NASS Web site is an essential resource for those dealing with agricultural and, to a lesser extent, environmental data. The site provides “timely, accurate, and useful statistics” to the agricultural community, and accurately claims to cover “virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture” through hundreds of annual surveys and statistics counts, and periodic census counts. The data collected by NASS are compiled into documents ranging from brief annual summaries to full detailed reports and raw data.

This site can be overwhelming to navigate due to the many ways of accessing data and reports. But NASS continues to improve access to its nearly 24 million records, such as Quick Stats Lite (Beta) tool, a guided interface to data for novice users, and the more advanced Quick Stats 2.0 database, which offers all limiter options on a single page. Once users have the data, they can manipulate it, display it on maps, export results, and save a link for future use.

A persistent navigation box appears on the left side of many NASS pages, and the content of this box changes in relation to the current page. The homepage, for example, sports a Web site search box that limits to specific states, NASS reports, Census of Agriculture, and the parent USDA site. It also lists eight broad subject areas including “Crops and Plants,” “Demographics,” “Economics and Prices,” “Environmental,” Livestock and Animals,” “Charts and Maps,” “Research and Service,” and “Education and Outreach.”

The site features a handy drop-down menu that directs researchers to state-specific statistics pages that include agricultural overviews, Census of Agriculture (data-rich content), and state publications and news releases. On the state-specific pages, the Census of Agriculture links continue to drill down to state and county reports, county profiles, rankings, data by congressional districts, etc.

Other highlights on the homepage include: a “Publications” link that describe data publication schedules, most requested reports, and historical publications; “Data and Statistics,” which lists the main ways to access data; and “Census,” which launches into the completely different, but related, Census of Agriculture site. The NASS site would be of particular interest to economics, agriculture, and environmental studies students.

Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Access: http://nixon.archives.gov.

Mark A. Stoffan, Western Carolina University, mstoffan@wcu.edu

Nixon Presidential Library and Museum is one of 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). It opened in July 2007 in facilities formerly occupied by the privately-operated Nixon Library and Birthplace.

Like other presidential libraries, the materials support more casual users as well as serious researchers. Extensive background information on the 37th president and his wife is available. Online exhibits offer a mix of textual, visual and audio files, including the famous tape recordings made during Nixon’s meetings in the White House. Other sections of the site target teachers, children, and researchers. Teachers will find lesson plans and links to popular resources, such as the White House tapes. Quick fact guides and a basic bibliography should prove useful in the classroom. For students, multimedia collections highlight the moon landing, energy policy, and the “silent majority” speech. Researchers will find extensive material about searching and using the collections, a more lengthy bibliography, and collection guides and finding aids. An unusual section titled “Links to Learning” offers access to other sites that have drawn extensively on the collections of the Nixon Library in assembling their content.

A basic search box at the top of each page links to the Archival Research Catalog at the main NARA site. It permits searching of the Nixon library collections along with other holdings of the National Archives. While this interface makes it necessary to limit by location to restrict search results to holdings the Nixon Library, it also provides comprehensive searching of Nixon-related materials at other NARA sites. The advanced search interface is extremely powerful, and, after a short learning phase, the researcher should be able retrieve relevant records.

No errors or bad links were noted on the site. As with other NARA sites, the main challenge is the sheer amount of material available, but the search engine and finding aids make it easy to locate items of interest. Overall, this site is very well organized and managed. It is an essential resource for anyone interested in the Nixon presidency, Watergate scandal, or American politics.

Copyright 2012© American Library Association

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