Sunday, January 30, 2011

Database Alert: Shifting Shortcuts at Hoover's Online

This past week, we got an email that our Hoover's Online "account" had been "Transitioned Successfully" to a new platform and URL. The only problem is that there were still a few technical issues to be resolved in the new interface and it appears that in attempting to resolve those issues with a "patch," the company has compromised access to the new platform. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Meanwhile, we received another email that the access to the older URL would be lost this weekend!

Since our homepages, controlled by University Web Services, take one or more days to publish out, we're not sure how to set the shortcuts, if the old one is about to be turned off but the new one isn't working properly!

So, let's give our users a few options and work-arounds.

If the new platform is working, it is probably better to use it. Here is a link:

As always, off-campus you will need to login with your name and Suffolk ID number. But do not be surprised if, after login, you get one of those ominous gray error boxes that reads "Google has disabled use of the Maps API for this application. The client ID provided is not valid for this site." Just click OK and continue.

In case the new interface produces a "502 Bad Gateway" error, you can try the old link:

And if THAT doesn't work, remember that much of the Hoover's content, minus a few bells and whistles, is in LexisNexis Academic. For that substitute content, see:

Hoover's Company and Industry Reports

Hoover's Company Records - Basic Record

Hoover's Company Records - In-depth Records

Hoover's IPO Reports

We hope to get Hoover's stabilized shortly. If you have any questions, please talk to us at the Reference Desk.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Notable E-Book: Extreme Pursuits: Travel/Writing in an Age of Globalization

Travel writing is often viewed as a form of entertainment. But it also illuminates our attitudes about "foreign" places and peoples. From a historiographical viewpoint, reading 19th century travel writing by well-to-do ladies and gentleman from England and the U.S., for example, is a real eye-opener. It tells us much more about the racial, ethnic and class attitudes of the genteel writer than it ever could about the citizenry of the visited locale.

How is travel writing changing? Graham Huggan tries to shed light on this through his new--the copyright date is actually 2012!?-- book from the University of Michigan Press, available at Sawyer Library as an ebrary eBook.

The publisher (see their page here) says that "Extreme Pursuits is the first study of its kind to link travel writing explicitly with structural changes in the global tourist industry. The book makes clear that travel writing can no longer take refuge in the classic distinctions (traveler versus tourist, foreigner versus native) on which it previously depended. Such distinctions—which were dubious in the first place—no longer make sense in an increasingly globalized world."

Frankly, I can't promise how "notable" this book really is, but I am citing it to highlight the fact that we get an infusion of new eBooks every month in our ebrary database. You can find them all in the online catalog (OPAC), as well as in the latest feeds in our New Books LibGuide (there's even a separate tabbed page just for eBooks). The handy thing is that ebrary titles are available 24/7 from wherever you have an internet connection. So, you don't always have to slog through the snow to find a few books on a subject. (Although we are always happy to see you!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Database: World Bank Open Data

Not wishing to mix often inferior web resources with the high quality databases to which the library actively subscribes, we generally do not list "free" resources on our lists of Library Databases. (Although many useful general web resources ARE listed in our Library Guides.) However, we are making an exception for the extensive collection of data sources of the World Bank now freely available on a website called World Bank Open Data.

The World Bank has always produced a great deal of useful data about government finance, development, economics, and the interactions between the haves and have-nots of 200 national economies. But this data was usually packaged in print and CD-ROM form, and was sold to individuals and libraries. We bought much of it in book form, on storage media, or as ebrary ebooks over the years. See, for example, the variety of volumes and disks we have of World Development Indicators, which is just one of the publications included in World Bank Open Data.

The World Bank's new "open data initiative" will make matters much easier for us and for our researchers. As the World Bank indicated in their announcement, their website will provide "free, open and easy access to statistics and indicators about development. Visitors to the site can easily find, download, manipulate, use, and re-use the data compiled by the World Bank, without restrictions."

To use this website is relatively easy. From the homepage you can click into areas where you can sort through over 1200 specific indicators or get information on any of over 200 countries, or look at a list of topics (like Aid Effectiveness and Health), from either mid-page or the top border. The best thing to do is to browse. Some types of data have their own webpages, like the Doing Business site for global business information. And many of the "Data Catalog" offerings like our friend the World Development Indicators are also easy to spot from various links--including ones that we have placed in our own catalog (OPAC) records for the previous print and disc editions that we own.

It is especially useful when data is not presented in a static manner, but rather as a database, the World dataBank, where you set your own variables for research in statistics pulled from World Development Indicators and Global Development Finance. Other specific databases can be accessed if you start with a selection at this page. Data is customizable and can be exported to Excel after you produce the specific report you want.

So far, I have not spotted much in the way of User Guides for the website, but I did find this page, which describes things and bit more and links to specific areas.

World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick recently explained the importance of this shift towards open data: “I believe it’s important to make the data and knowledge of the World Bank available to everyone. Statistics tell the story of people in developing and emerging countries and can play an important part in helping to overcome poverty. They are now easily accessible on the Web for all users, and can be used to create new apps for development.” As the WB further indicated, "opening up the Bank’s data stores will allow individuals, groups, and organizations to create applications, programs, visualizations, and other tools that will help monitor and measure progress of various development initiatives and projects. Additionally, the data can be used to create new and innovative solutions for international development, helping with the World Bank’s mission to reduce poverty across the globe."

This is a very useful breakthrough in transparency and cooperation by this very powerful IGO. Remember to make use of this data when it suits your research needs.

[FIND World Bank Open Data on the "Database by Subject" Lists for both Social Sciences and Business. Or, since this is a free database, simply visit ]