Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost

Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Access:

Tom Sommer, University of Nevada-Las Vegas,

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History Web site collects, preserves, and provides access to the rich history of Texas and the United States. The center was named for the former Texas governor and philanthropist, and its Web site is designed for researchers, students, and the general public.

The balanced and clean design of the homepage makes it easy for the user to locate information. The search box, which is accessible from any page, is a great jumping off point for a researcher. A very helpful main menu of six categories link to: “Research,” “Collections,” “Projects,” “Exhibits,” “Museums,” and “Books.”

The center makes it easy to locate their digital collections by placing them on a page entitled “History Online.” It extends the center’s ability to provide access to historical documentation. This includes access to digitized documents, artifacts, illustrations, book excerpts, moving images, sound recordings, and photographs.

For example, the Bentley Photographic Archive provides the researcher with digitized photographs of various American leaders in the midst of their jobs. The photos range from Bill Clinton running for President in 1992 to Bob Dole working in the U.S. Senate in 1996. The center’s site contains a diverse selection of resources, including “Congressional and Political,” “Photojournalism,” and the “Bexar Archives Online” (history of Hispanic Texas). The site gives users the ability to start their research without having to travel to the campus of the University of Texas-Austin.

The center’s site provides an array of Web 2.0 features, as well. The center’s Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube accounts provide more avenues to access their historical materials. A researcher can get to these social networking accounts by simply clicking on the related icon at the top right corner of the center’s homepage.

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History Web site is rich in features and content and will be helpful to both students and researchers of American history.

Reading Experience Database. Access:

Emily Hamstra, University of Michigan Library,

The Reading Experience Database, United Kingdom (RED UK) collects reading experiences of the British at home and abroad from 1450 to 1945. The collection includes experiences with reading particular texts from anyone living under British rule. The “experiences” are snippets from the journals of famous writers, such as William Somerset Maugham, as well as letters and journals that take the reader from homes of the aristocracy to settlement houses to prison cells.

RED, a project housed in the English Department of the Open University, is an open access database where users can explore reading experiences from personal journals, autobiographies, letters, interviews, and more. Users can contribute reading experiences from personal papers that fit within the 1450 to 1945 timeframe. RED UK has partnered with other countries to develop Reading Experience Databases. These databases are linked off of the RED UK homepage and include RED Australia (requires login), RED Canada, RED Netherlands (under construction), and RED New Zealand (a blog focusing on WWI readers).

All RED UK reading experiences are searchable in an advanced search by reader/listener name, gender, socioeconomic status, date range, occupation, type of text or subject of text, format of text, provenance of text (owned, borrowed-circulating library, stolen, etc.), reader’s location, and many more. Users may find the advanced search most useful when searching for unknown readers or unknown titles. If struggles arise when using the advanced search, reset the advanced search form using the reset button at the bottom of the page and uncheck the default “reader” box, or use the basic search/keyword search. Researchers can also browse by reader’s name, author, or reading group.

Each record in the RED UK database provides a direct quote from the reader or listener of the text read and as much information as possible is added to provide context for the reader’s experience. The length of the quote provided as the “reading experience” ranges from a sentence to a paragraph. The original citation for the reader’s quote is provided. The original citation is often a letter, journal entry, biography, autobiography, or personal interview. Researchers will appreciate the level of detail in each record.

RED will delight students of literature, history, and culture. Researchers will get lost in this resource, not because it is complex to use, but because it is so enjoyable.

Smithsonian Ocean Portal. Access:

John Creech, Central Washington University,

This captivating and highly visual initiative of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History will draw in users from a variety of academic disciplines and levels of interest. The primary organizational structure consists of five major tabbed sections on the homepage—“Ocean Life & Ecosystems,” “Planet Ocean,” “Ocean Through Time,” “Conservation,” and “Human Connections.” The homepage tabs provide access to more than 40 sublinks containing a vast and almost dizzying array of data. Each of the sections provides a wealth of materials, including current feature articles and news releases, consistently updated blog posts, timelines for species, high-resolution photographs and videos, further links to stories, audio and video archives, and outstanding image galleries.

“Ocean Life & Ecosystems,” for example, leads to dozens of articles on all aspects of the world’s oceans, from deep-sea dinoflagellates and other phytoplankton to sharks and large marine mammals. “Planet Ocean” leads to dozens of articles, photographs, and videos describing aspects of tides, storms, underwater vents and volcanoes, the sea-floor, ocean temperature and chemistry, and characteristics of ice in the polar regions. “Ocean News” on the homepage links to current articles from a variety of reliable resources, including the National Geographic, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the National Science Foundation, and to hundreds of archived news articles dating back to 2009.

The five main sections contain links to a series of “For Educator” materials for each primary topical area, including lesson plans for K–12 educators and science education students and more articles from collaborators, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A simple but powerful sorting function allows the user to retrieve hundreds of lesson plans sorted by grade level and by subject, many of which offer engaging interactive games and activity books.

The “Media Archive” section contains dozens of videos, audio presentations, slide-shows and stories, from videos of orcas and searches for giant squid to stories of right whales, which include the natural history and diversity of the species, evolutionary trends, and cultural connections among native peoples across the planet.

The Smithsonian Ocean Portal will dazzle undergraduate audiences seeking topical data on any aspect of oceanic research. Science education majors will be especially well served, as will teaching faculty looking for further information or serendipitously browsing the site for fun, for classroom assignments, or further research ideas.

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