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ICPSR: Consortium for Political and Social Research

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Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is an international consortium of more than 750 academic institutions and research organizations. It provides leadership and training in data access, curation and methods of analysis for the social science research community.

ICPSR maintains a data archive of more than 250,000 files of research in the social and behavioral sciences. It hosts 21 specialized collections of data in education, political and social behavior, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, history, terrorism, economics and other fields.

ICPSR collaborates with a number of funders including U.S. statistical agencies and foundations, to create archives organized around specific topics. Thematic collections and the new services created for them bring a dynamism to ICPSR from which the broader social science research community benefits. The funders provide new data, in most cases free to everyone, and this stimulates more research. The funded archives and ICPSR collaborate to build additional infrastructure for effective data use and discovery.

For a breakdown of some of the types of data collected

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by Pattie Sobczak, business and public policy collections librarian

Image: Measures of Effective Teaching Database

Merck Index Online: for research and everyday

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Merck Index Online is an authoritative source of information on chemicals, drugs and biologicals. You an search or browse its more than 11,000 monographs (chemical compounds) that can be explored for research and everyday practical purposes. Ideal for quick searches to reveal the properties of compounds and biologicals, Merck Index Online provides identifiers such as CAS Registry Number and structure. It also gives the molecular formula, molecular weight and melting point as well as Trademark names.

Structure search is simplified by the ‘convert’ feature, which allows for inserting a compound name and then converting it to a structure to enable a substructure or exact structure search. It has more than 500 organic named reactions (ONR) which have been recognized and referred to by name within the chemistry community, for example, the Ehrlich-Sachs Reaction (1899). Attached to each ONR are relevant references including that of the original description. All references are from scholarly journals, encyclopedias and handbooks. Apart from properties, all records have appropriate sections that describe them, depending on the type of compound. One example is the “Therapeutic Category” under Classifications, which is useful for identifying uses of compounds and their derivatives in healing, re: Glybuzole – Trademark name – Gludiase as an antidiabetic. The database is further enhanced by its 28 reference tables.

Merck Index Online is valuable to researchers, faculty and students in basic science, chemistry, pharmacy, chemical and life science engineering, biomedical sciences, dentistry, allied health, and medicine. It is also useful for everyday practical purposes such as information on additives or components, nutrients, minerals, and proteins. For example, get all the information for the cooking spice, nutmeg, its uses in flavoring food and beverages, nutmeg oil as a fragrance in soaps, detergents, creams, lotions, perfumes, and candles.

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By Ibironke Lawal, engineering and science collections librarian

Image: First issue, titled Merck’s Index

The Encampment for Citizenship, 1939-2009

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In 1946, following the chaos and horror of World War II and concerned by what they saw as the American education system’s failure, Algernon D. Black, a leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, and Alice Kohn Pollitzer, a prominent civic leader, began an experiment in democratic living. Inspired in part by the Civilian Conservation Corps and other work camps, the Encampment for Citizenship was a non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian summer residential camp for students.

Working with members of the American Ethical Union, Black and Pollitzer sought to create a life-changing experience. The student body would be racially, geographically and economically diverse. The educational program would be both intellectual and experiential.

The Encampment was founded on principles that had long been held and practiced by the AEU: a firm belief in the value and efficacy of education and the notion that one’s principles must be manifest in action. Education was seen as the first step toward solving many of the world’s most difficult problems.

During the 50 years following the Encampment’s inception more than 7,000 young people participated in annual summer sessions, year-round leadership training programs and various short-term projects in locations across the United States and Puerto Rico. Some notable alumni include: Gale Brewer, Ada Deer, Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz, Barney Frank, William Haddad, David Harris, Allard Lowenstein, Jean McGuire, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Charles Patterson, Miles S. Rapoport, David Rothenberg, Hal Sieber and Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman.

The Encampment for Citizenship collection is held in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library. Materials include Encampment publications, program and recruitment brochures, correspondence and memoranda of staff and board members, letters and correspondence of students and alumni, alumni and staff directories, alumni newsletters and reunion materials, yearbooks, newspaper and magazine articles, fundraising and sponsorship materials, student and staff evaluation questionnaires, workshop materials, photographs and slides. The bulk of the materials date from 1946 to 1997, with concentrations in the collection’s holdings dating from the late 1970s to the early 1980s and from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.

In 2016, as the Encampment marked its 70th anniversary, VCU Libraries presented materials from the Encampment Collection in its online gallery. It is the library’s hope that these photographs, documents and student publications serve as a digital scrapbook, revealing not only the organization’s history, but also some of its spirit.

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Finding Aid, Encampment for Citizenship Collection, 1939-2009  (M 391)

Online Exhibit: “Encampment for Citizenship: Education for Democratic Living”

By Alice W. Campbell, digital outreach and special projects librarian

Image: Encampers attend Dodgers game at Ebbets Field, 1950s, VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives

MathSciNet: New features expand ease-of-use

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MathSciNet, the primary databases for mathematical sciences literature, offers some new features.

  • Search results can now be sorted by publication date, journal title or number of citations.
  • New facets allow users to filter and refine results by item type, author, institution, journal, date and primary classification.

The AMS has announced that more upgrades are on their way, including search alerts. When this feature arrives, users will be able to get notifications about author citation counts, new issues and new results to saved searches.

For complete details about the changes

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By Martha Roseberry, science and engineering research librarian

Image: E8 Petrie projection by Jgmoxness

Engineering Village: New Numeric Search

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Engineering Village now offers a tool to display only those results that contain measurements at a specific value or range in their titles or abstracts.

If you’re looking for a measurement in nanometers, the numeric search will automatically convert units and recognize the same values, even if the abstract expresses units in Angstroms, microns, meters, or some other unit of length. For example, if you are interested in high-temperature superconductors, you can specify exactly what temperature to exceed.

To use the numeric search, first perform a search in Engineering Village, then open the numeric filter bar on the left-hand side of the results to enter the numbers and units.

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By Julie Arendt, science and engineering research librarian

Image: Pay, Numbers, Infinity, Digits by geralt

London Low Life gives “street view”

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BKS_HV4088L8_G74_168A new resource at VCU Libraries provides an almost “street view” of the topsy-turvy world of Dickens and Sherlock Holmes — only it was all too real for those who lived on the margins:  London Low Life.

Through visual records of cartoons, maps, sketches, subversive posters — and the texts of broadsides, “swell’s guides,” chapbooks, ballads, slang dictionaries, and more — researchers can experience the vibrant and illicit culture of London street life.  The brothels, gin houses and East End slums of the 19th century’s greatest city reveal the contradictions of a progressive era marked by the neglect of those consigned to poverty.

Fascinating in its depth of detail, London Low Life illumines the dark, secretive, and dangerous paths of a forgotten history and the lives of those who suffered but also subverted their situation.

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By Kevin Farley, humanities collections librarian

Image: The Great army of London poor: sketches of life and character in a Thames-side district / by the river-side visitor, The Lilly Library, Indiana University

DARE: U.S. linguistic variation

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linguistic U.S. mpaThe Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is a long-running project designed to capture variations in the English language across the United States. It allows scholars and lovers of language to study nuances, geographic spread, and change over time. This resource can be searched, browsed regionally, and offers many useful tools for the study of American English from its beginnings.

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By John Glover, humanities research librarian

Image: Dictionary of American Regional English

VCU Literary Award Winners

awardsVCU serves as the proud home of two major U.S. literary awards, given for book-length works in poetry and fiction. The award-winning titles are available in the collections of the VCU Libraries.

Named for late VCU English faculty member Larry Levis, the Levis Reading Prize has been given annually for the best first or second book of poetry published in the previous calendar year, beginning in 1997 and continuing to the present. The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award has been given annually to an outstanding debut novel published in the preceding calendar year, beginning in 2001 and continuing to the present. (Image: L-R, Larry Levis and James Branch Cabell)

By John Glover, humanities research librarian

CRL: Vast, rare, global primary sources

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VCU Libraries’ new membership in the Center for Research Libraries opens vast, rare, global primary sources to VCU.

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is an international consortium of more than 200 university, college and independent research libraries. Founded in 1949, the center supports original research and teaching in the humanities, sciences and social sciences. It preserves and makes available to scholars a wealth of rare and uncommon primary source materials from all world regions. After a hiatus of many years, VCU Libraries is again a member of CRL.

The diversity, global scope and primary evidence materials contained in CRL enable groundbreaking faculty and student research. Among its vast collections and digital resources is the largest circulating collection of newspapers in North America, including more than 1,800 U.S. ethnic titles and some of the earliest African-American papers. Researchers benefit from 38,000 foreign journals and 800,000-plus foreign dissertations, major microfilm and paper collections from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, South Asia, and more.

Areas of distinction include:

  • Broad collections in the area of primary legal and government resources, with an emphasis on serial publications from central governments including legislative, administrative, financial, and statistical reports. CRL holds several hundred thousand volumes of publications from government agencies of more than 100 countries, including more than 1,750 official gazettes.
  • Holdings of more than 500,000 volumes of monographic and serial publications of U.S. state government agencies and legislatures from the earliest period through 1950, including financial reports and research studies.
  • Rich historical holdings of U.S. and foreign scientific and technical publications. Generally, its collections in science, technology and engineering emphasizes titles not commonly held by other major North American research libraries.
  • Many specialized groups of materials, including a reference book archive, college and university catalogs, primary and secondary textbooks, railroad publications, curriculum guides and foreign central bank publications. Also held are major microform sets in literature, art, theater, music, science, and other fields.

How to use Center for Research Libraries materials

Discover items by using the CRL Catalog or the link to Digital Collections

The Center for Research Libraries is also listed in the A-Z databases list. Physical items may be requested using VCU Interlibrary Loan services. Contact Shirley Thomas, srthomas@vcu.edu, (804) 828-1706 with questions. For more detailed information, please see the CRL Research Guide. 

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Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles

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Advancing our understanding of the history and present of women’s contributions to the literary, cultural and political life of Great Britain, VCU Libraries provides access to the landmark database, Orlando:  Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. Orlando exemplifies digital humanities’ efforts to broaden access to little known or studied texts, provide historical and cultural context for authors and their works and inspire transformative ways of reading and understanding women’s literary engagement with their readers and the world through writing. Created at Cambridge University, Orlando is designed with a “unique structure and searchability,” encouraging researchers “to examine its information and critical comment in a wide range of configurations and to re-form this in new and creative ways. Orlando is open to the serendipities of productive browsing,” and fosters in-depth research through cultural, biographical, and textual discovery. More than 1,300 writers are included, and approximately 30,000 items are available for discovery–a growing list of authors and texts. Orlando will greatly enhance teaching and research at VCU, and foster a dynamic and innovative reading experience.

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By Kevin Farley, humanities collections librarian

Image:  “A Woman Seated at an Organ (or Writing Desk),” Yale University Art Gallery, public domain.

Counseling and Therapy in Video: Therapeutic methods

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Learn the role therapy plays in people’s lives with Counseling and Therapy in Video.

Counseling and Therapy in Video provides users with more than 700 hours of video about the challenges and steps associated with working with various clients. Search through various titles, therapeutic approaches and therapists to figure out what methods work with particular people and why.

Get in-depth explanations on various topics from well-established therapists. The database offers insight into working with specific populations such as veterans or teens. There are videos for users to get a firsthand look into putting methods to use.

Watch videos from therapists like Jon Carlson, Kevin Nadal and Irvin Yalom. Learn from the best by watching videos such as “Poverty as Social Exclusion” or “Crisis Counseling: The ABC Model and Live Demonstration With Two PTSD Clients.”

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Creative Commons

Contemporary Women’s Issues: Topics on Women

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Research on women’s issues has never been so easy with Contemporary Women’s Issues that allows users to find in-depth, scholarly information on topics that pertain to various women’s issues from around the globe.

It allows users to read up on articles such as recipes from Haiti or beauty standards in Namibia. There are hundreds of thousands of scholarly resources to get information from.

Contemporary Women’s Issues allows users to refine their search by various subject areas, geographical regions and article types. Subjects focus on everything from activism to sex roles. Information provided dates back to the early 20th century and information is regularly updated for users to have informative and recent information for their research.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Creative Commons

Race and Violence Research: Charting the Literature

For much of the 20th century, librarians fielding questions relevant to the topic of race and violence guided researchers to historical and general social science resources.

Scholars found articles about people, court cases, or events in databases like America: History and Life, or Sociological Abstracts. Primary evidence might be most easily found in newspapers, and court records. Photographic records, personal and agency records, newsreels, and video have long been available, but until large-scale digitization efforts were underway,  these were not readily accessible outside of individual archives.

In 2016, the range and number of resources on race and violence, and their ease of access, looks quite different.

It’s possible to create quick searches that reveal compelling patterns of growth and change in disciplinary topic treatment. A sophisticated multi-disciplinary database, like Web of Science, allows a search that offers evidence for expanding perspectives. Comparing decades, and using a search on “race OR racial” and “violence”, an effort identifies:

  • 1970-1979, 11 scholarly articles;
  • 1980-1989, 18 scholarly articles;
  • 1990-1999, 381 scholarly articles;
  • 2000-2009, 1,003 scholarly articles.

By the latest half decade, from 2010-2015, the same search identified 1,386 scholarly articles.

This exercise reveals the information explosion in research. But, these sorts of carefully constructed searches can offer evidence to help us  quantify, and pinpoint these “explosions” in a field.  What may be more intriguing, if not entirely surprising, is that while the 11 articles from 1970-1980 spanned across four broad disciplinary areas, notably sociology and ethnic studies, by the most current five years, the 1,386  identified articles spanned 50 broad research areas. These 50 include predictable disciplines like history, psychology and urban studies, but also include research in fields like substance abuse, anthropology and international relations. The largest current disciplinary area for this research appears to be in criminal penology, with emerging  research in areas as diverse as surgery and linguistics.

Today, librarians will want  to understand more about your interests in race and violence to recommend additional databases, but here are some starting suggestions:

Because Web of Science is also a citation-tracing database, it is possible to reveal author connections, disciplinary crossovers and persistence of research findings through citation analysis. This sort of search in Web of Science can quickly identify leading and new scholars in a field like race and violence, or other areas. For help with crafting a search in Web of Science that can reveal a quick picture of growth in disciplines relevant to topics that interest you, contact Sara Williams, liaison to African American Studies.

By Sara Williams, Head, Academic Outreach

Image: Black Panther Demonstration, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1970, Black Studies Center

ICPSR: Source for data in all forms

ICPSR Source

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) data contains data collections and data-related tools that can facilitate teaching or working with data in many different forms. Data sets can be downloaded in SPSS, SAS, Stata and ASCII.

In addition to the traditional political and social research data, the database also houses different types of data such as health data. Here are some examples of the data available:

For more information or help with access with the ICPSR data, please contact Irene Lubker at imlubker@vcu.edu or Nita Bryant at nbryant@vcu.edu.

By Irene Lubker, research and education librarian

Image: Measures of Effective Teaching Database

HeinOnline: Legal materials from the colonies forward

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VCU Libraries subscribes to HeinOnline, a searchable image-based database of legal research materials. What makes acquisition of this database exciting is its depth and its application to so many different disciplines and areas of study. While HeinOnline is an excellent resource for researchers looking for articles on legal issues of any kind, the collections have applicability to anyone studying history, political science, public policy and administration, homeland security, criminal justice, international relations, or any topic which involves those subjects.

At the heart of the database is the law journal collection which includes more than 2,000 publications, each provided from its first issue to the latest, subject to moving-wall restrictions. The historical collection of state statutes provides superseded statutes for all 50 states, some dating as far back as 1717.

The same “from inception” coverage, with various cut-off dates, applies to the Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Reports, and many other collections. Having older versions of laws and regulations is of great benefit for those researching the evolution of statutory and regulatory coverage of certain topics.

A few examples will provide an indication of how deep the collections are. The U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library contains not only all U.S. treaties, but also books and other texts such as Great European Treaties of the Nineteenth Century (1918), History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada (1755), and treaty guides and indexes such as Hertslet’s Commercial Treaties: A Complete Collection (Vols. 1-31). Foreign Relations of the United States covers every administration from Lincoln through Carter and also includes historical texts such as Trescot’s Diplomatic History of the Administration of Washington and Adams (1857) among many others. The U.S. Congressional Documents collection includes the Congressional Record (and its predecessors) from the 1st Congress to current, as well as Congressional Budget Office documents from 1976 to present, and what appears to be all of the unclassified Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports. Finally,the Session Laws collection for Virginia covers 1661-2013, thus extending our access significantly backward from December, 1861, the date of the first print volume in our collection.

Each page of every document has a permanent link. Click on the link icon to display the permanent link that can then be placed anywhere.

Citations for journal articles only may be exported to RefWorks; instructions are linked from the RefWorks guide. The combination of WestlawNext and HeinOnline provides access to legal, regulatory, and Congressional information from colonial times to the present day.

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By Marilyn Scott, education research librarian

Image: Creative Commons

VCU Menorah Review: Judaic culture electronic journal

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VCU Menorah Review is an electronic journal that provides information on the Judaic culture. Issues are published biannually with winter/spring and summer/fall issues.

Browse the archives and look up issues from fall 2003 to the present. The search option matches various words or phrases with articles.

VCU Menorah Review allows users to access scholarly articles from a variety of sources that discuss Judaic beliefs and customs.

Information about the the database has been taken from the VCU Center for Judaic Studies.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Creative Commons

Voice of Shuttle: Database of databases

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Voice of Shuttle is a database about databases. Established in 1994, it provides a brief annotated guide to online resources in the humanities.

Listed as Forbes Magazine’s 2002 “Best of the Web” in Academic Research, Voice of Shuttle continues to provide access to resources on various topics, including architecture, literary theory and media studies. With a brief description of the resource, users are able to be matched with the perfect resource for their particular area of study.

Get matched to publishers and booksellers like Harvard University Press or gain access to travel resources like Microsoft Expedia. Use Voice of Shuttle to gain access to a range of resources including “Eternal Egypt” and “Gregory Ulmer’s Homepage.”

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Creative Commons

Knovel Library: Engineering research resources

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Knovel Library provides users  with technical information in engineering and applied science.

Information comes from books, conference proceedings, databases and other materials from more than 100 sources.

Interactive tables and graphs display data in clear ways.  Users can download materials in a PDF or an Excel spreadsheet.

Knovel also contains a feature called interactive equations, which solve various problems in the field of chemistry, engineering and more. Users can use and save sample equations or enter ones of their own for Knovel to solve.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Creative Commons

Directory of Published Proceedings: Paper database

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The Directory of Published Proceedings offers users access to research papers from all over the world. The site provides categories, ranging from science and technology to economics and finance.

Use the Directory of Published Proceedings to find articles on pollution control and ecology or science and technology. There are articles like “Energy, Power & Facility Management Strategies & Technologies 2014-2015” from the United States or “A Real-Time Testbed for Routing Network” from Bulgaria.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others 

Image: Creative Commons

British Periodicals: Hundreds of 17th-20th century titles

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VCU Libraries expanded its British Periodicals series with the acquisition of British Periodicals I and III. This series consists of facsimile page images and searchable text for nearly 500 periodicals published between the 17th and 20th centuries. Topics covered include politics, science, history, literary and creative arts, archaeology and popular culture.

British Periodicals I is the foundation of the series, some 160 journals that comprised the Early British Periodicals microfilm collection. This collection covers topics such as politics, science, history, literary and creative arts, archaeology and popular culture. Titles in this series include the Athenaeum, the Scottish Review and the London Journal.

British Periodicals III extends the scope of the series into the first half of the 20th century. This collection contains illustrated periodicals known as the “Great Eight” in British publishing. These popular periodicals covered news, art, photography and literature of the era. Titles in this series include Britannia and Eve, The Sketch, and The Tatler. Images are in full color when present in the original.

These additions join British Periodicals II, a collection dedicated to the arts, in VCU Libraries electronic resources. Material from these collections is available to download either as PDFs or JPEG images.

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By Emily Davis Winthrop, arts collections librarian

Image: Graphic The Tatler; Jul 9, 1930; 117, 1515; British Periodicals pg. 75