The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 1

January 9, 2009

A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sponsored by University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries.

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

Research and Education

Working in Paterson [Real Player]

Occupational history projects have been popular for decades, and authors like Studs Terkel helped bring the subject into the mainstream. In 1994, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress embarked on a four-month project to study the occupational culture in Paterson, New Jersey. The site was furtive ground, and Paterson is considered to be the cradle of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. This online project brings together some of the documents from this intensive investigation, including 470 interview excerpts and 3,882 photographs. On the homepage, visitors can look at historical maps of the study area, and read thematic essays like "African American Family Business" and "Narratives of Work". Visitors can search through the collection at their leisure or also perform an advanced search across all of the materials here. Additionally, the site also has audio excerpts from some of the interviews, and these can be browsed alphabetically. [KMG]

Early Advertising of the West, 1867-1918

The University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections group recently created this compelling collection of early advertisements culled from their Special Collections Division. The collection contains over 450 print advertisements published in local magazines, city directories, and theater pamphlets from 1867 to 1918. The collection is quite catholic, as it features advertisements about liquor, tobacco, machinery, food and household goods, and local tourism. First-time visitors can look at the right-hand side of the homepage to view a number of helpful sample searches, including "Child rearing & care", "African Americans", and "Cosmetics & perfumes". The site puts the whole subject in context via a brief introductory essay which talks about the explosion of advertising across the United States after the Civil War. Highlights of the collection include the "Hotels & restaurants" section and the advertisements related to the Klondike Gold Rush, which includes ads for Klondike Cigars and steamship services to Alaska. [KMG]

Practical Tips for Managing Challenging Scenarios in Undergraduate Research [pdf]

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) has been involved in a number of new initiatives as of late, and one such project is the "Resources for Undergraduate Research". This series brings together topical information on new research methods and strategies for working with undergraduate students on a number of mathematical endeavors. This particular paper looks at how to best manage different scenarios that might arise during the research advising process. Authored by Sarah Adams and Darren A. Narayan, this document is based on solutions discussed by a group of faculty members that participated in the 2008 Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics Workshop. The five-page document discusses five specific scenarios that might occur (including what might be done if a student tends to dominate or control a group project) and offers some specific and concrete solutions to such difficulties. The scenarios discussed could occur in more than just college math classrooms, so this document is broadly relevant for many groups of educators. [KMG]

Organic Chemistry Animations

Students who might be puzzled by the world of organic chemistry will definitely want to bookmark this useful site created by a team of researchers at the University of Liverpool. The site focuses on providing interactive 3D animations for a number of important organic reactions that will be encountered by students taking organic chemistry. The site's homepage contains a list of recent updates and additions, and visitors will want to also look at the list of reactions covered on the left-hand side of the same page. After clicking on each reaction, visitors can view the animation and also click on the animation to view additional resources. For those who are looking for specific reactions, the site also contains an embedded search engine feature. [KMG]

National Anthropological Archives [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf] [Last reviewed in the Scout Report on August 27, 1999]    

The origins of the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) date back to the pioneering efforts of explorer, military man, and scientist John Wesley Powell in 1879. Powell brought the organization into the fold of the Smithsonian Institution and since that time, the NAA has grown to include 635,000 ethnological and archaeological photographs, 20,000 works of native art, 11,400 sound recordings, and more than 8 million feet of original film and video materials. On their site, visitors can make their way through their online exhibits, guides to the collections, and take in information about ordering copies of photos, manuscripts, and recordings. Scholars will want to peruse the "Guides" area, which features information about the NAA's collections, including guides to the film archives and a guide to their anthropological fieldnotes and manuscript offerings. More casual users will appreciate their very fine online exhibits, which include ""Drawing the Western Frontier: The James E. Taylor Album" and "Camping With the Sioux: Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher". [KMG]

BBC Prison Study

The official website for the BBC Prison Study, that accompanies the groundbreaking 2002 BBC Prison Study broadcast, went online in September 2008. The Prison Study put volunteers in a prison-style setting and then filmed them. The purpose of the experiment, conducted by British researchers, was to see how relationships evolved in places such as prisons, as well as in other institutions where unequal power exists, such as schools, barracks, and offices. What they found "changed our basic understanding of how groups and power work"; the study showed when and why people accept or challenge unequal power in groups. Visitors should click on "View The Movie Map", which is in the top left hand corner of the webpage, to see a menu of movie clips of different situations at the prison. The clips explore such situations as "Food Inequalities" to "Prisoners Mobilize Against Guards" to "The Emergence of a New Guard Regime". The menu in the upper left hand corner of the web page has a link to "Activities" which will prove especially useful for educators. The Activities link is further divided into the following sections, "Discussion Questions", "Exercises", and "Psychometric Tests". Each of these sections allows for more in-depth study of the issues raised by the Prison Study. The Psychometric Tests are those given to the volunteers in the study, and can be taken by visitors to the site and compared to the volunteers' scores. The "Resources" link, in the menu in the upper left hand corner of the webpage, includes hypertext links to "Scientific Publications", "Quantitative Data", and a "Glossary", that provide, respectively, a number of full-text articles about the Prison Study that have been published, the data collected during the study, and definitions of psychological terms used in the study. [KMG]

The World Health Report 2008 [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]

The state of the world's health is a complicated subject, and few organizations are as uniquely positioned to offer a multi-disciplinary overview of such a broad topic. The World Health Organization (WHO) is just such an organization, and in October 2008, they released their annual World Health Report. The title of this ambitious report is "Primary Health Care: Now More Than Ever". Persons visiting this site will not only find the full report, but also a podcast, photos and video clips from the launch of the report, a speech by the WHO director, Dr. Margaret Chan, and summaries of the report in Arabic, Chinese, French, and Spanish. Visitors can also download separate chapters of the report, which include "Public Polices for the Public's Health", "Primary Care: putting people first", and "Advancing and sustaining universal coverage". [KMG]

Biology: Online Labs [pdf]

Like many other academic publishers, McGraw Hill often creates supplementary online materials to be used in conjunction with their various publications. This particular collection of online materials is meant to be used with one of their recent biology textbooks, but they can certainly be used as stand-alone educational resources for persons interested in the biological sciences. This particular site contains 31 virtual labs that cover topics like evolution, regulatory genes, iron stress in diatoms, and gene technology. These labs are recreations of actual scientific experiments, and visitors are given background information on a topic, an explanation of the researcher's observation, and an overview of how they set up their experiment. The goal of these labs is to help make students and others more comfortable working with primary sources. Finally, the site also includes interviews with principal investigators from the University of Michigan, the University of Albert, and Auburn University. [KMG]

General Interest

The Pew Center on the States: Trends to Watch

Change is afoot in the United States, and the Pew Center on the States has created their "Trends to Watch" site for policymakers, public officials, and members of the public at large. The backbone of the site is found in the overview they offer related to eight major economic, technological, social and environmental trends and issues likely "to be profound determinants of the prospects of states in the next 10 years." These issues include migration patterns ("The Big Sort"), political participation ("Demand for Democracy"), and climate change ("Green Wave"). Visitors can click on each of these eight major trends and issues to retrieve thematic and interactive maps, data tables, and press releases. Additionally, visitors can view state by state comparisons, and compare all of the 50 states via handy and easy-to-read charts and graphs. The site is well-designed and easy to navigate, and visitors can also sign up for electronic newsletters and their RSS feed. [KMG]

Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800

After a traumatic and devastating fire in 1800, many historians though that the early files of the United States War Department were essentially lost forever. Thankfully, the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University recently completed a decade long project to locate all of these records and place them online here. The collection is a very important one, because during this time period the War Department was responsible for Indian affairs, veteran affairs, and naval affairs. The project was begun in earnest by Ted Crackel in the mid-1990s and it involved visits to over 200 repositories and consulting over 3,000 collections in the United States, Canada, England, France, and Scotland. Now, visitors can browse through 55,000 documents, and also perform detailed searches, complete with links to digitized images of each document. Interested parties can also browse the collection by year or person of interest. In short, this is an extremely valuable project that will be of interest to those with a penchant for American history, and early American military history in particular. [KMG]

NOVA: Absolute Zero

On a hot day, some might wish they could get the temperature down a bit. They might not wish it to be as cold as, say absolute zero, but there are many scientists who are interested in doing just that. For those who are curious, absolute zero clocks in at around minus 460 degrees Fahrenheit. This engaging website is meant to serve as a complementary resource to the two-part series that recently aired on NOVA on this engaging topic. Visitors can start by watching a short preview of the program, and then continuing on to look over some of the special interactive features on the site. All told, there are ten different features, including "A Sense of Scale", "How Low Can You Go?", and "Milestones in Cold Research". The "Milestones in Cold Research" is a great place to start, as it's an interactive timeline that chronicles the "netherworld of extraordinarily low temperatures" as investigated by everyone from Galileo to current researchers. Of course, there are also more playful features here, such as "The Ice Trade", which asks users to dispatch ships loaded with natural ice to Florida, Brazil, and India. [KMG]

Smithsonian's History Explorer [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, along with the Verizon Foundation, has developed a website that offers standards-based online resources for teaching and learning American history. This lively looking red, white and blue-themed website has an eye-catching feature on the homepage which highlights an item from the Museum's Artifacts. Visitors should click on the "Read More" tab, which is right below the description of the artifact, which will take the visitor to the full detail of the artifact, as well as any related artifacts. Clicking on the "Museum Artifacts" tab at the top of the page will take the visitor to the search engine for the 65 museum artifacts on the site. The "Lessons/Activities" tab at the top of the homepage takes the visitor to a list of lessons and activities that can be filtered by Grade Level or Historical Eras/National Standards. Additionally, the list provides the lesson/activity description, the grade band it's suitable for, as well as the duration of the lesson. Finally, the "Interactives/Media" tab, located at the top of the homepage, links to a slew of audio, video, and interactive resources that are meant to be used by students on their own, without the aid of a parent or teacher. "Building a Sod House", "Artificial Anatomy: Body Parts", "Children Write to the President", and "Whatever Happened to Polio?" are just a few of the 36 fascinating interactive lessons. [KMG]

Museum of Arts and Design [Macromedia Flash Player]

Originally begun as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, has an impressive website that is easily accessible and fun to browse. Click on the "See" tab at the top of the page to choose from "Current Exhibitions", "Past Exhibitions", "Traveling Exhibitions", and "Search the Collection". To see the highlights of the Museum's collection of jewelry, quilts, metalwork and wood, click on "Collection Highlights" when in the "See" tab. To play curator and pick your own highlights of the collection, the Museum of Arts and Design has a feature that seems right at home on their site. Click on the "Interact" tab on the homepage, and choose "Curate the Collection". From there, click on "Collection Home" and scroll down to the middle of the page to register and start your own virtual collection that can even be saved and sent to friends. Also under the "Interactive" tab is the link to "Multimedia", which includes videos of interviews with artists, curators, the deinstallation of one of the past exhibits, several lectures on architecture, and several artists in the process of creating some new works. [KMG]

The Fathom Archive

The University of Chicago's Fathom project consisted of a site whose goal was to bring accessible online learning resources to people around the world, whether student, professional, educator, or lifelong learner. And they succeeded, via a consortium of fourteen educational and cultural institutions committed to that very goal. This site contains the full archive of the Fathom project, which is part of the University of Chicago Library's Digital Collections. To see the list of the members of the consortium, click on "History of Fathom", in the middle of the homepage. After that, click on "Browse the Archive" at the top of the homepage to browse all of the works by title or author. The topics cover a broad array of material, from capital punishment to human cloning to studies of race and ethnicity. [KMG]

Food Timeline

Whether visitors to the Food Timeline are foodies, or just plain curious, they will definitely find more information than can be taken in at one sitting. The Food Timeline was developed by a "reference librarian with a passion for food history," and her dedication is evident in the link near the top of the page entitled "About Culinary Research". Clicking on this link is extremely helpful for those researching food, and just plain interesting for those who are simply curious. In a nutshell, the author tells the visitor that research on food history is quite difficult and complex, and gives a bounty of hints on how to approach a particular food puzzler. She also notes that very few foods have been invented, rather they have just evolved. The timeline is smack dab in the middle of the homepage, and has links galore. It has links to individual ingredients, as well as to complete dishes and historically important cookbooks. Near the bottom of the homepage, below the timeline, is a menu of choices that includes: "Teacher Resources", "Historic Menu Collections", "Digitized Cookbooks", and "Historic Food Prices". There is so much on this website visitors might want to grab a snack and a beverage, and let the learning begin. [KMG]

One Life: The Mask of Lincoln

In time for both Lincoln's 200th birthday and Barack Obama's inauguration, this small exhibition from the National Portrait Gallery explores the still-mysterious nature of the 16th U.S. president, through portraits selected from the Gallery's collections. Examples include a small-size copy of an Alexander Hesler photograph; Lincoln with "tousled hair" which was produced in 1860 so it could be cut out and worn as a campaign pin; an engraving of the First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation; a drawing of Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln; and the famous cracked plate portrait, one of the last images made of Lincoln, taken in February 1865 by Alexander Gardner. The audio tour provides answers from David Ward, Historian, National Portrait Gallery, to some persistent Lincoln questions, such as "Why is this portrait cracked?" which refers to the Gardner portrait, or "In what way did Lincoln try to manage the explosiveness of the Emancipation Proclamation?" which refers to the engraving of the First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. [DS]

Network Tools

ALLPlayer 3.6

Some media players can play a few formats, but ALLPlayer does many of them one better by playing just about any format imaginable. Perhaps the most compelling feature of this latest version is that users can also watch films with embedded subtitles. This particular function works by linking up to the Opensubtitle website, which then delivers the subtitle to the player. Also, the program contains a subtitle speaker function, which allows users to hear the subtitles. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

Foxit Reader 3.0

Foxit Reader was created to provide an alternative to Adobe Reader, and it seems to succeed quite nicely on all fronts. Foxit Reader allows users to draw graphics, highlight text, type text, and make notes on PDF documents, and then save the entire thing (or print it out). This version is compatible with computers running Windows Me and newer. [KMG]

In The News

In difficult economic times, libraries become even more popular with the general public

Books fly off shelves as library use soars

The Santa Barbara Independent Libraries Busy in Faltering Economy

The Public Library Renaissance

Judge orders libraries to stay open

Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries

Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Wiki

In economically challenging times, many people choose to omit certain luxuries, including pedicures, new (or used) cars, and other items. Retailers are also now reporting that consumers are also buying fewer books, CD's, and DVD's. Are people just not listening to music, turning on the television, or reading? That's definitely not the case, as the nations' libraries are reporting record numbers in terms of new library card applications and the sheer circulation numbers of their various holdings. A column in the Boston Globe reported that the checkouts of such items are up 15 percent in Modesto, 17 percent at the Newark Public Library, and that the Boise Public Library also reported a 61 percent increase in new library cards. Many people also rely on public libraries to perform job searches online, hold community meetings and forums, and as a place to spend a few hours away from inclement weather. Despite the recent uptick in public library use, there are a few ominous signs on the horizon. Many cities have been forced to cut library operating hours due to severe budget shortfalls, and Michael Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia, even proposed closing 11 branches of the city's public library system. A recent ruling by a judge kept those branches open, but many of the challenges remain in Philadelphia and in hundreds of public library systems across the United States. [KMG]

The first link will take users to an article from this Thursday's Bend (OR) Bulletin that talks a bit about the increased library use at the Bend Public Library. The next link leads to a like-minded piece from the Santa Barbara Independent, which discusses the importance of their local libraries within their community. The third link whisks users away to a recent post from the "Freakonomics" weblog at the New York Times. The post talks a bit about the previously mentioned Boston Globe article and also offers link to other relevant sites on libraries. Moving on, the fourth link leads to a piece from this Tuesday's Philadelphia Inquirer about the recent ruling that requires Philadelphia to keep all of its libraries open. Those persons with an interest in the history of public libraries in the United States will enjoy the fifth link, as it contains information about the famed Carnegie libraries, paid for via the fortune of industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Finally, the last link leads to a site created by noted Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl. Here visitors can create their own book wiki, trade information on favorite books with other bibliophiles, and so on. [KMG]

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