The Bibliothéque National de France (BNF) is a widely networked institution, providing digital access to its archives from 1987, when a large digitalization process of many multimedia resources, books metainfo and scientific journals was launched. Many and different archives are available for general users, who can move from traditional disciplines to cinema, advertising and manuscripts, using multiple search engine and browsing criteria. Four outstanding catalogues are provided for general and specific researches and a directory of interesting websites and contents is organized for researches by topic. A section is devoted to virtual online exhibitions. A complex content organization allows users to visualize info in different formats, to save resources in personal archives and to download and print pdf abstracts, pictures and detailed metainfo. While general access is free and easy, it is necessary to contact the BNF staff to retrieve full-text of recent scientific articles. The website is well organized with a clear content structured and an effective graphical architecture, and is therefore easy to navigate and use. The basic service information is also available in English and Spanish, while the original French version is more dynamic and graphically rich. Regularly updated and well maintained, the site features an advanced search for complex multimedia.
Bibliothéque National de France
A vast multimedia online collection
British Library for Development Studies
A collection on economic and social change in developing countries
The British Library for Development Studies (BLDS), based at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at Brighton, UK, holds a comprehensive research collection which provides access to more than 150,000 records (over 1,000 journal titles, over 10,000 magazines and newspapers, over 80,000 research papers) on many different topics related to developing countries worldwide. It covers material from a a variety of sources, such as developing country governments, international entities, political institutions, NGOs. Among its many online services, it provides full-text of electronic resources (from CD-ROM and journals, to reports and working papers) along with access to records, summaries, references, and a variety of data. Databases of selected websites by subject are also available. The whole catalog is freely available online as well as access to external electronic resources and the e-mail alert service, but a paid membership and other restrictions for non-IDS community apply to access journals, indexes, full text databases and other resources. Different search options are provided, also for specific countries and databases. A series of guides to several resources and services are available in pdf format, along with over 30 subject guides, useful tools for making easier to browse and locate items in this vast collection of material. A simple outline makes navigation simple.
British Library of Political and Economic Science
Social Science repositories and resources at LSE
The British Library of Political and Economic Science, the Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science, is one of the largest library for social sciences. It collects material on a worldwide basis, in all major European languages. The electronic resources provide updated articles and statistics, over 13,000 e-journals and catalogues which can be freely consulted also by general users. Two sections (EIectronic Library and LSE Research Online) are open access for non-members, where full-text articles can be freely retrieved in pdf format or a database of link lists to external websites and various e-resources can be searched. For accessing the other services an London School of Economics ID is required or an access pass must be obtained via email by the library service. Infos are organized in thematic archives and records can be saved and downloaded in personalized and customizable areas. The website is easy to navigate and to understand, thanks to a simple and effective interface design, multiple keys criteria and navigational aids which help users to find their way and to retrieve the desired data. A tutorial is available only to institution-affiliated users, with a public A-Z site index and a help section.
California Digital Library
The digital library of the California Universities
The California digital library (CDL) is a project started in 1997 gathering materials from university libraries, campuses and institutions located in California. The website includes several collections, databases and archives containing records and items covering many disciplines and issues, as well as academic researches and publications from Californian Universities. CDL contains several services providing access to various sets of records (databases, statistics, e-books, articles images, etc.). Visitors can view a fair amount of records, including detailed information about single files content. They can download statistical surveys, full-text documents, multimedia files for different records even. Specific sets of records are not public and external affilitiation is not allowed, neither individual nor istitutional, for non-members of the academic community of California. The site architecture is quite homogeneous, resulting intuitive to the user, helped by effective navigational aid, mainly FAQs.
California State Library
An inter-library catalogue project of California Libraries
A well designed cooperative project aiming at preserving the state’s cultural heritage by collecting historic materials on California and the West and by ensuring that the general public has consistent access to its resources. The website offers many possibilities to retrieve resources and materials. Users can also customize and save records, download simple but well displayed and commented info, while moving through Main Catalogue, multimedia resources and e-journals, Californian State publications, and the Californian Research Bureau, which provides articles in full-text downloadable for free. Various issues are covered, searchable by a simple keyword-based feature. A fair amount of resources (metainfo, reviews, official Californian State laws, documents, and governmental acts) is accessibile also for general users, but some sections are restricted for California State Library affiliates. Some records, in pdf format, offer technical support to the online service and/or are dedicated to the librarian’s community. A good graphic categorization and an excellent search system help users retrieve documents.
Center for Research Libraries
An institutional consortium and framework for resource-sharing
Founded in 1949 and located at the University of Chicago, the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is a consortium gathering US universities, colleges and research libraries, and is a framework for institutional cooperation and resource-sharing. With its almost two hundred participating institutions and a collection of approximately four million items, it serves not merely as a repository of valuable research materials, but as a dynamic partnership at US national level. The consortium acquires and preserves newspapers, journals, documents, archives and other traditional and digital resources for research and teaching. The center’s website gives access to the consortium’s huge catalog, provided with advanced search engines and quick links by topics, more than 600,000 titles. Users are also allowed to retrieve otherwise inaccessible and important digital resources from special digital collections, including image formats and microfilms. Metadata are always provided and navigation and catalogue search and browsing is free. Direct online access for the digitalized records is available only through the member institutions. Also available are info on current center’s activities, description of ongoing projects as well as the annual reports in pdf version and content always up-to-date.
Central and Eastern European Online Library
Online archive on Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe
Aiming at becoming the Internet’s portal to Central and Eastern Europe, the Central and Eastern European Online Library (CEEOL) is an online archive which provides access to full-text articles from 687 humanities and social science journals and re-digitized documents. Most of them are Central and Eastern Europe-focused and available in their original (mainly slavic) languages. Political science is covered with more than 100 journals. A catalogue database gives access to up-to-date info on publication archived in the library, with possibility of advanced and multiple searches by author, title, subject, year and keyword. For each journal issue short annotations and metadata about each articles’s content are available. A clear navigation menu facilitates item retrieval, and located material can be downloaded in pdf format. Except from some free samples, an institutional affiliation or an individual payment is required to access to full-text records. Non-affiliates can download articles by a pay-per-view service. However all users can freely use the library catalogue and also to retrieve a directory of links to Central and Eastern European websites, each with a short comment presenting its specific content. With its content richness and its well-structured interface, this website represents a gateway to Central and Eastern Europe of great interest.
Columbia University Libraries
Resources from the many Columbia University libraries
Covering dozens of libraries, catalogs, collections hosted at NYC’s Columbia University (over 10 million volumes, 100,000 current jouand many more different items), the CUL website provides detailed info about use and access, e-journal abstracts, full-text papers, database listings and more. Covering any possible topics in the academic world and managed by a professional staff, this website makes a great use of innovative technologies and sophisticated features. Digital resources and archives, several library catalogues, abstracts of more than 9,000 dissertations, webresources lists ordered by type and nature, are the main sections of the Columbia’s Libraries and its website. A library account (with online login) is required to access parts of online databases and resources, while some content is open to the public with plenty of pdf files for downloading. Access to the actual libraries is free to students and faculty, and partially also for relatives, alumni, and local residents. The CUL advanced search options can easily be limited to a specific section (main library catalogue, databases, e-journal, website) or used as a cross-search facility. The search page is also available in a text-only version. A consistent outline helps to navigate successfully in a sometime overwhelming quantity of different materials.
Access to Europe's cultural and scientific resources in digital format
An ambitious project aiming at making Europe’s cultural and scientific resources accessible to all, a virtual European library with links to over 20 million digital objects. The database provides free access to millions digital items divided in four groups: Images (paintings, drawings, maps, photos and pictures of museum objects), Texts (books, newspapers, letters, diaries and archival papers), Sounds (music and spoken word from cylinders, tapes, discs and radio broadcasts), Videos (films, newsreels and TV broadcasts). Users can freely access any item and its details page (metadata), and also view the item in original context – but no downloading allowed. The project involves dozens of institutions encompassing all EU countries, as partners or contributors, and includes works from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the British Library in London, the Louvre in Paris along with a variety of hidden treasures form other sources. Under a professional outline and “universal” accessibility features, the interface is provided in 25 EU languages but most information is still in English. Along with a general keyword search box, more advanced search options and a timeline browsing are available. Registered users can save, share, tag items or searches, and the “communities pages” (will) enable to share, discuss, reuse or blog.
Jonsson Library of Government Documents
A Stanford library collection of government-related documents
The Jonsson Library of Government Documents reaffirms Stanford’s traditional strong dedication to high quality reference and information services, providing metadata about the material available in the actual library and covering many topics worldwide from a variety of sources. Most publications are about the United States Congress. Fully accessible through Socrates, the Stanford University’s general online catalogue, the Jonsson database is well-structured and its primary sources include full texts of congressional bills/resolutions both passed and not passed, congressional committee hearings, prints, documents and reports, floor debates, proceedings, journals, directories and biographies, election and voting data, and publications of the congressional support agencies. Reference material and other official records are available completely free of charge for any user, thus allowing anybody to easily access, search or browse a top-quality database, including additional reference material and links. Along with a dense (sometimes overloaded) but effective design, this website provides different levels of searchability, and reference data can easily be copied and saved in html format or a printer-friendly version. Full access to the entire collections is possible only for Stanford community members.