If I had to make a list of the five most important library research tools for historians, I would put WorldCat at the top of the list without a moment’s hesitation. While in the past, scholars were limited to local libraries, print bibliographies and the occasional visit to other libraries, today WorldCat provides them a gateway to the global print collection. WorldCat thus levels the playing field between the top-tiers research libraries and smaller libraries, such as Falvey Memorial Library. Our history students can discover and request basically all the published books on any given topic with the help of WorldCat. If they would only knew about WorldCat!
Remember the student who told you that there is nothing published about her topic? Did she know about and search WorldCat? Remember the student who told you that the library does not have any books about his topic? Did he know about interlibrary loan and how to request books from other libraries via WorldCat? The majority of history students are unfortunately not familiar with WorldCat, and the few who do know about it are often intimidated by some of its unnecessarily complicated search features.
Falvey’s 2012 Research Center Intern, Matt Ainslie, has put together a Brief Introduction to WorldCat, a short online video tutorial that will introduce your students to WorldCat. His Brief Introduction to the Chicago Manual of Style has been widely popular with our students. At last glance, it was viewed more than 1,200 times. Given the unexpected popularity of the Chicago Style tutorial, I would like to hear your ideas and suggestions for additional tutorials.
Cambridge University Press re-designed the interfaces of two popular reference collections: Cambridge Histories Online and Cambridge Companions Online. The old interface had various usability issues, which left the user at times frustrated. The new interface is less cluttered, more user-friendly and its attractive design and color scheme are pleasing to the eye.
Did you know that Cambridge University Press continues to add new and old print titles to the Cambridge Histories Online collection? In 2012, six back-list titles and seventeen new titles were added. Noteworthy among the new titles is The New Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations: Dimensions of the Early American Empire, 1754–1865 by William Earl Weeks, not to be confused with the 1993 volume authored by Bradford Perkins. The remaining three volumes in the series are slated for publication later this year. Forthcoming in 2013 is the second volume of the Cambridge History of Science series entitled Medieval Science. New 2012 titles include:
The interface for Cambridge Companions Online mirrors the Cambridge Histories Online interface except for the crimson color scheme. The Companions focuses on philosophy, religion, culture, literature, classics and music.
When did you last browse either one of these remarkable collections? It may be time to take a fresh look.
JSTOR joined the ever-growing circle of e-book publishers late in 2012 starting with a collection of around 15,000 e-books from a range of well-respected university presses such as those of Penn, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, California, North Carolina and Columbia. Among them is a small number of non U.S. publishers, such as Boydell and Brewer, Edinburgh University Press and the University of Toronto Press. The complete list of available JSTOR book titles is available for review.
The Library is currently testing the e-book-publishing waters with a boutique collection of history titles. Army at Home by Judith A. Giesberg, PhD, is a familiar title here at Villanova University. While a few of the JSTOR books are duplicated in the library’s print collection, most of the JSTOR titles are new. JSTOR books owned by Villanova can be found in the library’s catalog as well as in the JSTOR database.
JSTOR books are seamlessly integrated with other JSTOR content. Just as journal content is fully searchable, so are the e-books. Search results can be filtered into results from journal articles and books simply by clicking on the newly added Book tab on the results screen. To include titles not owned by the Library in the results list, switch from “Content I can access” to “All content.” Books not available to Villanova faculty and students are identified by an X-icon next to the check box.
Each book has its own landing page with such features as stable URLs, a link to JSTOR book reviews, abstracts, the table of contents and the first 100 words of each chapter. Unfortunately, not all books are equal, and the different access options can be confusing. Some books are only available as single-user titles. Chapters from a single-user book can only be viewed by one person at a time. Downloads are available, but require registration for a free JSTOR account, and the downloaded PDF files cannot be printed. Single-user books have a security key icon on the book landing page which reminds the reader of the access limits. Multi-user books are as easy to access as JSTOR journal articles.
Use the links below to explore the different access models to JSTOR books.
A detailed overview over the JSTOR book program is available online. Questions or comments? Contact me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post your comments online.