Monday, June 21, 2010

Notable E-Book: Social History of the United States

History has too often been the story of the rich and powerful (as well as the white and male). In recent years, there has been a movement to reflect the lives of working ("ordinary") folk, people of color and women in history, too. We have many databases that will help scholars get at primary documents--databases like Social and Cultural History: Letters and Diaries Online (from Alexander Street Press) and Primary Sources in U.S. History (from LexisNexis). Reference books can also be oriented towards primary documents. (For an example, see the Milestone Documents series, that we have in print and online through the publisher.)

But beyond primary documents, researchers might be interested in finding secondary overview information about changes in American society in the Twentieth Century, and how these changes impacted everyday Americans. For this need, we have recently added an eBook encyclopedia consisting of ten volumes worth of scholarly analysis of United States history in the last century. It is called Social History of the United States, and is available on the ABC-CLIO (formerly Greenwood) platform.

After linking from the catalog, you will be at a page related to this particular reference set. You can browse contents from the left frame, or you will see a green Quick Search box in the upper left that is already set up to search "within this title." (If you want to search all of our ABC-CLIO books, just change the setting of the search box.)

The ABC-CLIO interface is not the most elegant in the world, but it does the trick and quickly gets you into the long chapters in this series. There are lots of tables (which don't always display well in html), charts, and tables, as well as a nice array of historical photographs.

Caption: This store in Oakland, California, was closed following orders that all Japanese Americans evacuate to internment camps during World War II. The owner, a University of California graduate of Japanese descent, placed the “I am an American” sign on the storefront the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces in December 1941. (National Archives)

Above the text in the large right frame are many menu options, including print, email, cite and link functions, as well as a quick-use dictionary (the American Heritage College Dictionary, Fourth Edition). This extensive set has a little bit of everything and can be useful for anyone studying American society in the last century. A publisher PDF description of the series can be found here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Database: Oxford Handbooks Online

Not everyone likes to read an entire novel or scholarly treatise online, but almost everyone is happy to read a short essay or article online--especially to get an introductory overview of a specific research topic. Suffolk researchers do NOT need to use unreliable and anonymous web resources (like Wikipedia) when they are starting their research. Instead, they can use the more substantive and reliable materials we provide in electronic reference databases like Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL), Oxford Reference Online Premium (OROP) and Sage eReference.

A few months ago we added yet another very useful array of electronic reference books that can definitely help our users get a grounding in a variety of topics related to Business & Management, Philosophy, Political Science, and Religion. This database, just launched last fall, is called Oxford Handbooks Online (OHO). Consisting of dozens of volumes in the 4 subject modules, Oxford Handbooks contain specially commissioned articles--over 2500 so far--with each volume containing between twenty and forty original essays.

Let's say that I am interested in how the economic concept of the "gravity equation" relates to international trade. Well, the Oxford Handbook of International Business (which we happen to have in both print and electronic form, has a good overview essay on just this topic. You might find statistics or tables or graphs in OHO essays. And since authors are also supposed to do a literature review, the commissioned articles include both references and a bibliography of targeted additional readings on the topic.

OHO tries to embed usable links in their online essays that might link you to a journal article or a statistical resource elsewhere. However, be warned, just because a link is provided, it doesn't mean that Sawyer Library owns access rights to the secondary material. Follow the link and if you cannot reach the additional material, double-check access through the online catalog or our eJournal Locator. (And, as always, feel free to talk to Reference if you still cannot find the material you are looking for.)

To search the database, you can click on one of the modules on the OHO homepage to explore a particular subject category, you can put a search in the box directly below the main logo, or you can do an advanced search by clicking the link in the upper left frame. To get some sense of the range of available titles, take a look at this list. (OHO is updated three times a year and we are attempting to purchase all new available volumes.)

Oxford University Press also did an introductory PowerPoint available here. And the database also includes an online tutorial guided tour.

[FIND OHO on several "Database by Subject" Lists, including the one for eBooks. ]

Friday, June 4, 2010

Notable Ebooks: Who's Buying Series

Finding marketing demographics in a well-organized and tidy form is sometimes a challenge. Although we do have entire databases devoted to demographics, like DemographicsNow, and others that try to collect data on consumption of products in the global community, like Euromonitor's Global Market Information Database (GMID), the fact is that both of these databases have quite a learning curve. And a bit of patience is required to use them effectively. Sometimes, people just want a quick demographics snapshot of this or that, which is why the print resources published by New Strategist have been popular resources with our users since before either of the above mentioned databases existed.

New Strategist publications look at everything from public opinion (American Attitudes) to Household Spending to characteristics of specific generations (e.g., The Millennials). And a few years ago, the company started a "Who's Buying" series of small volumes covering a variety of market segments like apparel, health care, travel and pets. We used to have these volumes only in print form, with the latest editions kept at the Reference Desk. But we recently added several New Strategist publications, including the Who's Buying Series as eBooks in our Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) collection, thus extending where and how our users can access these materials.

You can, of course, simply go to GVRL as a database and plug in a topic. If, for example, I search for fast food restaurants, I'll pull up a great variety of materials. These include industry histories, biographies of business leaders like Dave Thomas (of Wendy's fame) AND sections pulled out of the Who's Buying at Restaurants and Carry-Outs.

In many cases, you'll want to see these other GVRL resources, as well.

However, if you only want the specific Who's Buying guide, one option is to look up the individual volume, like the Pets guide, in the online catalog,

and click on the link to the online version, and then either use the search box to left of the opening eBook screen to search "within this publication" or browse the "eTable of Contents" linked in the middle of the page.

And if you don't know the name of a particular book in the series, simply browse the titles in this series list from the online catalog. (The other option would be to pick to the individual titles from the "Social Science" (!) list on the GVRL opening screen, but this is not the best or easiest way of getting to these volumes.)

As handy as these little guides can be, don't forget to use the other databases we have, which may provide you with more up-to-date or varied information. Besides the ones mentioned in the first paragraph or this blog entry, there are many more linked from our subject database lists and from our many research guides, including ones on marketing and demography.