Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost

American FactFinder. Access:

Wendell G. Johnson, Northern Illinois University,

The U.S. Census Bureau has added a convenient Internet portal for patrons in search of census data. Once upon a time, in the pre-digital era, researchers had to visit a federal depository library to retrieve census documents. As recently as ten years ago, one of the most accessible sources of material was the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research or patrons could also use the website of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Now, American Fact Finder provides library patrons with one-stop web surfing for a variety of information needs.

The toolbar at the top of the homepage provides four options: “Community Facts,” “Guided Search,” “Advanced Search,” and “Download Center.” “Community Facts” provides popular facts about a specific locale. By simply entering a zip code (e.g., 60115), users will retrieve general population (46,410 according to the latest census) and housing characteristics (including age, sex, and race) for this area. American Fact Finder includes three sources for the data: the 2010 Census, 2015 Population Estimate, or 2014 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-Year Population Estimate. The inclusion of the Population Estimate and the ACS Survey represents a welcome advance over the annual Statistical Abstract of the United States.

“Guided Search” allows for detailed step-by-step sifting of the information retrieved from “Community Facts.” In addition to a specific zip code, a researcher can narrow down a search by racial or ethnic designation. Of the 46,410 people residing in area code 60115 at the time of the 2010 Census, 5,541 were classified as “Black or African American alone,” 5,586 as “Hispanic or Latino,” and 45 as “American Indian or Alaskan Native.” “Advanced Search” permits the demographer to refine the data pool yet further. From “Advanced Search,” we learn that the median age of “Black or African American alone” residents in zip code 60115 is 33.7 years (31.9 for males and 35.4 for females). The respective figures for “Hispanic or Latino” are 22.1 years for all residents, 23.2 years for males, and 20.7 years for females. “Download Center” contains datasets and tables such as “Annual Survey of Public Pensions,” “Commodity Now Index,” and “State Government Tax Collections.”

To get demographic data with this degree of granularity from a commercial aggregator can run tens of thousands of dollars per year. Now, courtesy of American FactFinder, users can get this information gratis, courtesy of the U.S. government.

Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Access:

Vivian Linderman, Long Beach City College,

The website of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations does an impressive job of telling its story as it works throughout the world to eliminate hunger, promote and manage sustainable communities, and alleviate poverty. The site draws the user in with compelling rotating images that link to FAO news articles. A prominent menu and topic buttons take researchers deeper into the organization and its work around the world. Linked visuals on the homepage bring up infographics, videos, related websites, and organizational highlights. An index to FAO departments and offices is at the bottom of the page along with an array of FAO’s social media channels. A custom search box offers a valuable feature to navigate the extensive site. The site can be read in five languages in addition to English.

As an example of the site’s range and depth, a search of the menu’s “Countries” tab results in an A to Z list where FAO has a presence, along with sub-menu selections of “Geopolitical ontology,” “Country codes/names,” “Low-Income Food Deficit Countries,” and “Data sources.” These pages link to both FAO and off-site resources containing articles, maps, databases, and statistics that cover a wide range of topics, including agriculture, food security and safety, economics, and aid. Geographic and economic links offer a larger regional picture. A nice feature of the country pages is a two-page PDF summarizing FAO’s main issue areas within the country, along with descriptions of its solution-oriented involvement.

The freely available access to FAO documents, including reports, issue papers, and downloadable ebooks is a resource not to be missed. The document repository is easily searched from a discovery box or advanced search screen allowing facet limitations.

The e-Learning Centre offers free courses designed for professionals working in the fields of food and nutrition, social and economic development, or sustainable management of natural resources.

Visitors to the site can easily get caught up in the wealth of information and resources. The site is easy to use, and links load quickly, although some text and images did not load correctly on a mobile phone. Since this is an information-laden site, it would be nice to see a citation tool or formatted citations included. For those interested in the topic of food security, this site is highly recommended.

The Griffith Institute. Access:

Nikhat Ghouse, American University,

The Griffith Institute on Egyptology was established in 1939 for the study of the ancient languages and antiquities of the Near East at the University of Oxford. The institute is named after Professor Francis Llewellyn Griffith, who bequeathed his estate to Oxford to give 40 years of prior work on Egyptology a central home. Housed within a highly organized website are a number of valuable print and digital resources.

The Topographical Bibliography (TopBib) of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings (affectionately known in-house as Porter & Moss after the female bibliographers employed by Griffith) is an online resource that contains information on ancient Egyptian monuments. Featuring published and unpublished OCR searchable materials, it includes the first seven printed volumes arranged topographically from Egypt, present day Southernmost Egypt, and Northern Sudan. The eighth volume details collections amassed in museums and private collections. The materials for this collection come from far and wide and cover many languages. TopBib is updated and enhanced by the more than 1 million references waiting to be digitized.

Online Egyptological Bibliography (OEB), which is a subscription based literature database on Egyptology with coverage going back to 1822, includes the bibliography from Annual Egyptological Bibliography and Bibliographie Altägypten, with the latter having some 20,000 items. OEB is searchable by keyword and updated daily.

The Griffith Institute Archive is widely known for its collections in Egyptology, archeology, architecture, and history of art and science, including 130 different materials types. Manuscripts, personal journals, and completed papers are just part of this significant collection. One of their better-known collections is archaeologist Howard Carter’s records on the Tutankhamun tomb. Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation is a free and comprehensive collection of Carter’s materials. Ten years of materials on the tomb are fully accessible, including photographs, object cards, drawings, maps, and more. This resource is highly visual and may engage new learners on the topic of Tutankhamun.

“Learning & Media” supports educators and students alike. The Learning Realm offers opportunities for users to get involved with various activities. “Media” offers videos and podcasts hosted by the Griffith Institute, as well as links to external resources.

The Griffith Institute site would be useful to students and faculty interested in history and archaeology of the ancient Near East.

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