Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost

National Library of Scotland. Access: http://

Tom Sommer, University of Nevada-Las Vegas,

The National Library of Scotland (NLS) is a reference library with world-class collections. Their collections range from rare historical documents to online journals, which cover a wide range of subjects regarding Scotland’s rich history and culture. Its related website is an extension of this national institution’s resources and provides easy access to a world-leading center for the study of Scotland and the Scots.

The NLS website is a dynamic one where its creators balance rich content with a clean design. It’s designed in such a way that when a researcher starts at the homepage, he or she has a clear understanding of what is located on the site. For example, the navigation bar is located at the top of the homepage and includes links to “Digital resources,” “Catalogues,” “News + events,” and “Contact.” A significant inclusion is the “Search” box located in the upper righthand corner of the homepage. It allows researchers quick access to all the other NLS websites, as well as the ability to search its catalogs and resources.

The “Digital resources” link is of particular importance to the user because it includes access to the “Digital gallery.” The “Digital gallery” provides access to digitized items from various collections within NLS. Patrons can access these materials through the related subject categories page, as well. This page provides access to subjects ranging from “Art and design” to “War” and is an expedient way for the researcher to get to the digitized resources.

Another useful feature on this same page is the search box entitled, “Search our digital gallery,” which is a search engine specifically designed to access records within the “Digital gallery.”

Another important feature on the homepage is the Popular Areas section. It provides links to viewing the moving image collections within the Scottish Screen Archives and to the high-resolution zoomable images of more than 86,000 digitized maps of Scotland. Also included are more than 700 volumes (1773–1911) of Scottish Post Office directories.

The NLS site contains Web 2.0 features, such as a news feed and the ability to connect to their related Twitter, Facebook, You-Tube, Flickr, and blog accounts. Finally, the NLS website’s footer provides access to such useful pages as the “Site Map,” quick links to the “Subjects A–Z list” page, and the NLS Newsletter.

The NLS site is a great place to start exploring the resources located within Scotland’s largest library and one of the major research libraries of Europe. Undergraduates interested in history will find this a fascinating and helpful site.

Smarthistory: A Multimedia Web-Book about Art and Art History. Access:

Doreen Simonsen, Willamette University,

Imagine standing next to two art historians discussing an artwork in a museum and listening to their conversation about that piece of art. Smarthistory provides just that experience for undergraduates.

Smarthistory began in 2005 as a blog of audio guides for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker. Harris was the first director of digital learning at The Museum of Modern Art and Zucker was chair of History of Art and Design at the Pratt Institute before becoming the executive directors of Smarthistory. They are joined by 11 contributing editors and numerous art historians who contribute videos and essays, but Zucker and Harris retain editorial control over all submissions. New videos are added at least once a week. In 2011, their site merged with the Khan Academy, and several major universities, such as Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Michigan use Smarthistory.

The homepage of this clearly designed website can be searched by time period, style, artist, or theme. It features links to recent videos, Smarthistory images on Flikr, and a list of links to essays on non-Western Art. The “Teaching with Smarthistory” section offers syllabi and tips for creating your own content and includes, for example, “Case Study: the Portland Art Museum,” which illustrates the process.

Each subject web page includes an introductory essay with clear links to related essays under that category; some of the essays have videos embedded in them. A small map of the area being discussed is included on each page to situate the viewer, and links to relevant museum or scholarly sites are listed on the right side of the screen.

The heart and strength of Smarthistory are the 600-plus videos of informed conversations between two art historians. The scholars put the artwork in a larger context within a certain time period and culture, illustrating their discussions with similar works of the artist and photographs of the site where the artwork was found. Sometimes the audio of contributing art historians, such as in Ed and Nancy Kienholz’ Useful Art #5 video, is not as clear as those created by Harris and Zucker, but the subject expertise is just as good.

Smarthistory brings art history to life in an engaging and dynamic manner. Art history students and travelers alike will find this resource useful and informative.

Copyright 2014© American Library Association

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