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The Drexel University Libraries has a new system in place for faculty to request and manage materials on course reserves.  The system, called ARES, is accessed through the Blackboard Learn shell for each course.  Students will then be able to get to the materials directly in the Blackboard Learn course shell for their class.

Details about the new system and guidance on how to use it is available on the Libraries' newly updated Putting Material on Reserve page.

Also on that page is the new Fair Use policy that the Libraries has developed with the guidance of the Drexel University Office of General Counsel.  The new policy, which reflects current best practices, explains how course reserve requests are assessed using Fair Use provisions of U. S. copyright law.

Faculty in the humanities and social sciences with questions about  using Ares or the new policy may contact me and I will work with Laura Chance, our Reserves Coordinator, to answer any question.


The Google Public Data Explorer is now ready to help you visualize your data.

The same tool that Google uses to let you explore datasets from select governments and NGOs has now been opened up to help you visualize your own data. The link above takes you the Google Code Labs homepage for the DSPL (Dataset Publishing Language) project.  On the page you'll find tutorials on how to prepare your data for uploading.  Once it's uploaded you'll be able to explore your data through animated charts, time series , and even map visualizations.

Want to try it out but don't want to do it alone.  Let me know and I'd be happy to help!


Sage Research Methods Online has just started a free public beta test.  And the Library has started an institutional trial too.  The resource, which contains over 100,000 pages of books, journals, encyclopedias and handbooks, is designed to help you choose and implement the best social science research method for your project. You can use the Library's trial or set up your own. Access is free (registration required) until the formal product launch in January 2011.  Please let me know if you have any feedback about this tool.

And if social science research is your thing, take a look at Methodspace, a social network for researchers that is also from Sage.  It's free!


Image from The Curfew web game

The Curfew

Readers of this blog have probably noticed that I am fond of visual ways of exploring complex issues.  Often that involves maps but sometimes, as with ICED, that means web-based games.  The Curfew is a game (currently in beta) from Channel4 and LittleLoud in the UK with the support of groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others.

Set in an authoritarian Britain in 2027, the game allows you to explore, in a compelling, fun way, issues such as privacy, citizenship, security, surveillance, civil liberties, and human rights.  The production values are very high with a mix of live action and computer graphics and, if you login to your Facebook or Twitter accounts, it integrates information about you into the game as an extra creepy bonus.  Give it a look and let me know what you think!


Elena Kagen - Law Library of Congress

Whether you are a policy wonk (I am), a Supreme Court groupie (got me again), or just interested in the way the nation's highest court helps shape our society (yep), this new page from the LLoC will be very useful as we gear up for Elena Kagen's Senate confirmation hearings.

This guide links to the books and articles she has written, the Congressional documents concerning her last judicial nomination, her oral arguments before the Supreme Court, and an extensive collection of web sites and videos about her.

Take a look and you'll be ready to do your own fact-checking when the hearing starts!


Oil Spill Cris Map [from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade]

Oil Spill Crisis Map

I'm always impressed at how quickly important events are mapped these days.  As you have probably noticed, I am very interested in the ways GIS tools are used to visualize data and help us understand our world using maps.  That will be the subject of an upcoming, and much longer, blog post.  For now, let me just mention this great new project of made by students at Tulane University in conjunction with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

It uses the Ushahidi mapping tool, an Open Source project that lets people visualize and map data that is collaboratively collected using SMS, email, and web sites.  It's a cool tool in itself.  The way it is being used for the Oil Spill Crisis Map is exciting too.  People in Gulf Coast communities and around the world can use it to track the impact of this massive oil spill, all in real time.  This could be useful information for students interested in environmental policy, public policy and environmental science, among other fields.

More maps and forecasting is available from NOAA here.


From now until May 26th we have a  trial of the Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA) database.  If you study a topic related to language, linguistics, or speech this may be an important resource for you.  I could envision this being used by students and researchers in fields like Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Communications, Modern Languages, and the Health Sciences.  Here's the publisher's description:

CSA Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA) abstracts and indexes the international literature in linguistics and related disciplines in the language sciences. The database covers all aspects of the study of language including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. Complete coverage is given to various fields of linguistics including descriptive, historical, comparative, theoretical and geographical linguistics. The database provides abstracts of journal articles and citations to book reviews drawn from over 1,500 serials publications, and also provides abstracts of books, book chapters, and dissertations.

You can access the database here. Please take a look at this tool and tell me what you think of it.  I really appreciate your feedback.


Women and Social Movements in the United States 1600-2000, Scholar’s Edition

SUNY Binghamton's Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender and publisher Alexander Street Press are offering one month's free access to their extensive digital archive collection in honor of Women's History Month.  This free preview which lets you use the colection's, "91 document projects and archives with more than 3,600 documents and 150,000 pages of additional full-text documents, and more than 2,060 primary authors" for the entire month of March.

Use the link above to access the database and, of course, let me know what you think about it!


Data Store: World Government Data

If you like your data international, free, and easy to find then the UK newpaper,  The Guardian, has a site for you!

World Government Data draws from publicly available government databases like data.gov for the US and the cleverly named data.gov.uk.  Now you can browse or cross-search government datasets from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, with more sources added as they come available.

Even better, though it's Open Platform API, the Guardian gives you tools to build visualizations and create apps that use the Data Store.  You can browse some of the apps that have been created so far here.


Starting soon I will begin a series of blog posts on easy ways to "keep up" with the academic disciplines that I support here at Drexel.  That's the plan anyway.  Sometimes, though, something comes up that is just more pressing.

Here are some ways to keep up with the events around the earthquake in Haiti.  This is obviously a very selective list.

Newspapers and News Media:

Other Sources:


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