Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Database: LGBT Life with Full Text

Interested in Queer Studies/Queer Theory as a scholarly field? Or are you simply interested in reading about the lives and concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and intersex people, as represented by the writings of these communities? Then you will want to make use of a new database Sawyer Library has added called LGBT Life with Full Text.

Ebsco, the publisher, calls LGBT Life with Full Text "the definitive index to the world's literature regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues." With its mix of activist and scholarly literature, it is certainly the most extensive resource that I have seen in this multifaceted subject area.

The database contains indexing and abstracts--in the familiar EbscoHost interface--for more than 140 LGBT-specific core periodicals and over 290 LGBT-specific core books and reference works. Ebsco has also gone after "data mined from nearly 40 priority periodicals and over 2,400 select titles." With the assistance of the One National Gay & Lesbian Archives, the publisher was able to index (and in some cases reproduce) many materials that show the progression of gay rights in this country, and beyond. The Lesbian Herstory Archives of the Lesbian Herstory Education Foundation is also assisting Ebsco in further developing content for the database, which is clearly a work in progress.

Scholarly materials and research studies can be found here. So, too, you will find an abundance of popular, cultural and political publications like The Advocate and Lesbian News. In addition, other source-types such as monographs and reference book entries as well as grey literature, newsletters, case studies, and speeches are identified or reproduced. LGBT Life has also loaded some 50,000 bibliographic records from NISC’s Sexual Diversity Studies (SDS) .

The database now includes more than 120 Full-Text Journals and more than 140 Full-Text monographs and books. And more additions are planned. I was happy to see that Bay Windows, New England's "largest GLBT newspaper," is indexed and available full-text here. But although a Gay Community News is also available in the database, it is not the well-remembered "GCN" published here in Boston from the early '70s to the early '90s, but rather a publication of the same name still being published in Dublin, Ireland! All the better to expand our global understanding of gay topics and issues, perhaps.

For more information on what is indexed or available full-text in the database, take a look at this title list from Ebsco.

The file also includes a LGBT Thesaurus providing a specialized set of LGBT terms, used to enhance the indexing beyond what is found in standard (Library of Congress based) subject headings. The LGBT Thesaurus will be an evolving project, with new terms added as needed. Currently, the thesaurus includes over 6,400 terms. It's great that Ebsco is trying to expand the vocabulary for the database. But I must admit that I am currently disappointed in the number of subject terms and the amount of abstract information available in many of the records here.

Still, it is impressive that much of the indexing and some of the full-text goes back as far as the 1950's; well before the Stonewall Riots and the designated birth of the gay liberation movement in 1969. And speaking of Stonewall, the types of community remembrances and debates that you can find on a modern "historical" subject like this one make it clear how valuable this database can be in supplementing and expanding the materials you might be able to find in more familiar databases.

Obviously, it could be worthwhile exploring current events topics like the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy here. But, heck, it's even fun to take a general pop culture subject like Dolly Parton for a spin through a fascinating resource like LGBT Life with Full Text!

[FIND LGBT Life with Full Text on the "Databases by Subject" List for Social Sciences, on the second column. ]

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