One-Stop Offerings from Bloomsbury Architecture Library & ProQuest | Reference eReviews

This outstanding one-stop gateway is invaluable, enabling users to find books, journals, videos, audios, dissertations, and more without having to switch platforms. Despite the overwhelming amount of content, this offering is intuitive.

Bloomsbury Architecture Library  
Bloomsbury

Free trial available

CONTENT

Bloomsbury delivers a compact collection that supports the study of architecture, urbanism, and interior design globally from prehistory to present. 
Central to this database (and exclusively available here) is Sir Banister Fletcher’s Global History of Architecture, a seminal two-volume scholarly encyclopedia first published in 1896 and now in its 21st edition. Entirely rewritten by 88 international experts in the field and published in cooperation with the Royal Institute of British Architects and the University of London, this monumental survey contains more than 2,200 crisp, mostly full-color images: photographs of building exteriors and interiors, artist’s renditions, orthographic drawings, and more. Coverage is comprehensive, encompassing Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Mesoamerica, Oceania, and other regions marginalized by past generations of architectural historians. Chapters are arranged chronologically by region.
Accompanying this flagship encyclopedia are 40-plus scholarly books published by Bloomsbury since 2002 that tackle topics such as digital architecture, gentrification, ecological design, architecture in films by auteur David Lynch, and the cultural history of glass and shadows. New content is added twice a year. Most of the titles are available online only in this database.
 
In addition to ebooks, Bloomsbury Architecture Library features an interactive time line of important structures (from 3500 BCE to present); the Sir Banister Fletcher glossary, which defines more than 900 architectural terms; and a catalog of 700 architecturally significant buildings, from a Roman concrete palazzo to a New Zealand cardboard cathedral, with data such as dates, location, architects, materials, and styles, as well as brief descriptions. Especially illuminating is the world map. Clicking on a region or country surfaces all the content pertaining to that locale. Despite the unprecedented global scope of this database, Europe accounts for greater coverage than Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, and Oceania combined. Anglocentrism lingers—there are 302 items from the UK but only 89 from Spain and four from ­Romania.


USABILITY

The easy-to-use interface is elegant, with a contemporary look and feel and responsive design. Pages adjust automatically to match the screen size of a tablet or smartphone. Users can sign up for a Bloomsbury personal account to save and email searches and items for later viewing. Each object has a persistent link and each chapter a digital object identifier (DOI). The platform’s built-in citation generator and ability to export citations to RIS files are incredibly useful. Chapters display only as HTML webpages rather than PDFs, though pagination from the print editions is indicated—another way to make citing easy. Chapters are not available to download, but users can print to a cleanly formatted PDF. While Bloomsbury’s platform is beautifully designed, the content is regrettably not cross-searchable with other products such as Bloomsbury Cultural History or Bloomsbury Design Library.

Browsing and searching capabilities are flexible and robust. Top-level navigation has five tabs, starting with “home.” The second tab, “explore,” lets user browse by place; period; subjects and styles; peoples, cultures, and religions; materials; and architects. “Browse contents” holds the time line and map, glossary, the flagship Global History of Architecture, and catalogs of the ebooks, images, and buildings in the database. “About” offers an overview of the database and rotating “featured content” that organizes material around distinctive themes, e.g., Africa since 1914. Also in this section are frequently asked questions and an accessibility report, in which Bloomsbury demonstrates good faith efforts to make its platform fully accessible to users with disabilities. “Librarians” allows institutional subscribers to download MARC records, COUNTER-compliant usage reports, and promotional materials.

Searches crawl the full text of all books and image captions, highlighting keyword and phrase matches. With advanced search, users can simultaneously enter up to six keywords or phrases, using Boolean operators. They can filter by title, creator, abstract, category, or identifier (e.g., DOI) or limit by publication date range and content types: book chapter, building, dictionary, encyclopedia entry, image, or Sir Banister Fletcher chapter. Enclosing search terms in quotation marks retrieves exact phrases. Researchers can narrow results by architect, place, or other facets. In an improvement over previous Bloomsbury releases, facets are granular—the period 1100–1499 can be broken down by century—and can be mixed and matched as desired.


PRICING

Bloomsbury Architecture Library is available for purchase via subscription ($1,726 to $5,740) or perpetual access ($10,356 to $34,440) with an annual content update fee of $600 to $1,000 accompanying perpetual access purchases. Future platform content updates will be included in the annual update fee or subscription price.  Future modules will have a separate subscription/purchase price. Pricing is based on institution size and type. Consortia discounts may apply. 


VERDICT

Bloomsbury Architecture Library is light on content, with its chief selling point Sir Banister Fletcher’s Global History of Architecture. The platform is beautifully designed, easy to navigate, and improving with each release, albeit not cross-searchable with other Bloomsbury products. This resource offers the best value for schools with design, architecture, or art history programs, though it should excite any library that supports an interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum.

 


Michael Rodriguez is Collections Strategist at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

 


ProQuest One Academic  
ProQuest; 
Free trial available

 

CONTENT

ProQuest is known for developing highly functional databases with exceptional content. With ProQuest One Academic, the company takes things one step further by offering a single user-friendly, cross-searchable platform to four of its core products: ProQuest Central, Academic Video Online, Academic Complete, and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. From an ebook chapter on civil engineering and a streaming video about Vikings to a scholarly article on women’s suffrage and a dissertation on biochemistry, the variety of content is staggering. 

ProQuest Central comprises about 47 databases of full-text journals, newspapers, magazines, conference proceedings, working papers, and market reports across more than 175 subject areas. Academic Video Online contains more than 60,000 titles: documentaries, interviews, performances, news programs and newsreels, field recordings, commercials, and demonstrations, with original and raw footage as well as Academy, Emmy, and Peabody winners. Academic Complete offers multiuser unlimited access and DRM-free chapter downloads to 150,000 multidisciplinary ebooks. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global has five million dissertations and theses with bibliographic citations, including the first U.S. dissertation in 1861, European dissertations back to the 17th century, and theses accepted as recently as late 2019. Although intended primarily for academic and community college users, the subject matter supports a wide range of learners and is accessible through library discovery services and Google Scholar.


USABILITY

The layout and features on the landing page will be familiar to ProQuest users. Five links allow researchers to navigate: “basic search,” “advanced search,” “publications,” “browse,” and “change databases.” Under “basic search” (which opens up by default on the homepage), users can key in any search term and filter by books, scholarly journals, and more. A search tips link offers a thorough, clear guide. “Advanced search” enables Boolean searching in addition to other options, such as limit results to full text or peer reviewed results; users can also refine results by publication date, location, source type, document type, and language. 
Under “publications,” users will find a list of all 30,000-plus publications across the platform. Researchers can limit searches here by format and by subject, language, publisher, and database. “Browse” offers links to resources related to business, careers, dissertations and theses, and health and medicine. 

Searchability, functionality, and interfacing are superb. Entering the term impeachment under basic search and selecting options full-text and peer-review resulted in almost 6,000 items. Narrowing the publication date to 2017 and the publication type to magazines brought back five entries, all from the political magazine NACLA Report on the Americas. Having access to four databases from one search screen results in quicker results and a seamless experience.  

The one drawback is limiting a search to book titles only found in Academic Complete, which often returned mixed results. Typing in “Teaching and Learning STEM” and restricting databases only to Academic Complete leads to no results, but that same search, using “all databases,” brings back 55 books. Otherwise, searches are quick and comprehensive. Documents are easy to read, and videos are clear. 
 

PRICING

Cost is determined by the size of the library or school, and by the number of prospective users. Interested libraries should contact ProQuest for pricing information.
 

VERDICT

This outstanding one-stop gateway is invaluable, enabling users to find books, journals, videos, audios, dissertations, and more without having to switch platforms. Despite the overwhelming amount of content, this offering is intuitive. In short, these databases are excellent individually, but collectively as ProQuest One Academic, they establish an extremely high bar for user convenience and functionality.

 


Rob Tench is a Librarian at Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA

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