Best Databases of 2016

The most highly acclaimed databases and digital reference products reviewed by LJ in 2016.


Many databases and digital reference products were reviewed in 2016. The following are the cream of the crop.

ACI Scholarly Blog Index (ASBI)

ACI Information

ACI Scholarly Blog Index is a distinctive database that connects users to social media and blog postings created by experts in a variety of academic and research fields. This resource boasts over 10,000 scholarly blogs, with more than one million posts. Specialists in each topic or field selectively curate the collection of sources, ensuring that visitors can find blogs with active content in their field of study. Users will enjoy the options available for collecting and viewing relevant results. When selecting an article to view, a resulting page gives the option of either a summary or full text, as well as a list of features, including publication metadata and author details (education, position, societies, and awards). This provides a thorough introduction to the author’s area of expertise. With the plethora of social media and blog posts published daily, ASBI will appeal to those seeking quality, relevant content that meets their academic needs. The extensive topics and curated articles create a worthwhile resource to support the academic journal indexes already available. (LJ 9/1/16)—Katie McGaha

Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790–1920

Gale Cengage Learning;

Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture, 1790–1920, offers rich resources for scholars of history, sociology, criminology, political science, and law by making available more than two million pages of items such as detective agency records, police gazettes, chapbooks, and trial transcripts. This content is not for the squeamish, but it educates users about the acts (and punishments) of 19th-century transgressions. The FBI file on Italian-born U.S. anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti contains the previously classified reports providing the bureau with new developments including meetings of supporters of the duo and clippings from local newspapers showing the nature of public sentiment toward them. Also included are monographs on Eastern State Penitentiary, articles on serial killers H.H. Holmes and Thomas Neill Cream, and manuscripts relating to the unsolved Lizzie Borden and Charles Bravo cases. Not only is the content extraordinary, but the navigation is fast and easy. This enthralling and straightforward file will be well worth its purchase price to libraries supporting serious legal, historical, and criminal justice researchers. (LJ 4/1/16)—Cheryl LaGuardia

Environment Complete (EC)

GreenFILE EBSCO Industries

EC provides indexing and full text to a wide range of topic areas such as agriculture and farming, climate change, ecosystem ecology, environmental law, environmental management and protection, environmental technology, forests and forestry, marine and freshwater science, pollution and waste management, renewable energy sources, and more. With over 3.5 million records spanning 2,200 national and international titles going back to 1888 and more than 190 monographs, the database also includes the full text of more than 1,300 journals. A go-to resource for coverage of all areas of environmental studies programs, including environmental ethics, environment and the human condition, and energy and ­sustainability. (LJ 4/15/16)—Bruce Connolly & Gail ­Golderman

Public Library Video Online: Premium

Alexander Street

Designed for the academic and entertainment interests of patrons of all ages, Public Library Video Online: Premium contains videos from 500 providers such as CBS and PBS. Users have access to a plethora of footage, from documentaries and raw footage to commercials and features. Film history buffs will especially appreciate the ability to view footage from as early as 1890, beginning with an Edison camera test. The database includes material from several disciplines: science, education, news, theater, and fashion. The platform provides a user-friendly interface for streaming media and viewing documents, with the content loaded on the left and detailed metadata on the right. With the media player on the left, users are presented with several options for manipulating videos such as play, next/previous track, 30-second rewind, shuffle tracks, and visual table of contents. Whether browsing the collection or searching for a specific topic, users will find this database intriguing. While Alexander Street promotes the entertainment value of the product, it will hold strong appeal to academics owing to the emphasis on providing and sharing citations. (LJ 5/1/16)— Katie McGaha

Twentieth Century Religious Thought. Vol. 1: Christianity
Twentieth Century Religious Thought. Vol. 2: Islam

Alexander Street

Alexander Street’s Twentieth Century Religious Thought collection is a multivolume resource that highlights the teachings and writings of religious thinkers from the early 1900s to the turn of the 21st century. It aims to support interfaith dialog by shining light on the “increasingly global and pluralistic character of religious scholarship.” Included in Volume 1 are biblical commentaries, exegetical writings, canon and church law, catechisms, religious instruction, confessional writings, devotionals, philosophical pieces, sermons, lectures, and more. As of this writing, the database offers more than 100,000 pages worth of content, with 382 books and 3,382 items from the Reinhold Niebuhr Papers alone. Volume 2 centers on Islamic theology and tradition and features the work of more than 100 authors from Egypt, Gambia, India, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, Turkey, and the United States. Muslim voices make up an estimated 95 percent of the collection. These products comprise an expansive library of works that illustrate modern Christian thought and contemporary Islamic thought. The content is thorough and thoughtfully selected; advanced researchers will appreciate the depth of materials available. (LJ 8/16)—­Gricel Dominguez

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