ACLS Humanities e-Book collection

New-ish to the Library is the fascinating ACLS Humanities e-Book collection, from the American Council of Learned Societies.  This impressive collection has almost 4000 full-text scholarly books across the wide gamut of the traditional humanities (history; art & architecture; film & media studies; literature & literary criticism; linguistics; music, dance, performance; philosophy; political science, religion, and even sociology, to name a few).  There is a strong focus on “historical studies” focused on “African, American, Asian, Comparative/World, Eastern European/Russian, Economic, European, Latin American, Legal, Medicine, Methods/Theory, Middle East, and Science/Technology.”   You can download an Excel spreadsheet of the specific book titles included if you want to take a look.

Okay, we know it’s huge.  Even the title is a mouthful – so much so that you’ll see even the authors refer to it as ACLS HEB, or even just HEB.  So what can you do with HEB?  Happily, the collection boasts both an easy to use browse feature (that allows you to browse by title, author, or subject) and a very robust search engine that lets you quickly find titles / subjects / authors of interest.  Within a few clicks, you have the full-text of the book right in front of you.

acls ebook1   Once you find a book of interest, you can enter the book from its ACLS title record page.  You can go to the first page of the book and page your way through, or enter specific chapters / page ranges by using the linked Table of contents.  There are book reviews for my title linked on the page, plus the full citation and full cataloging record.  You can even get a larger version of the book jacket by clicking on your book’s image.

I found the book, Buñuel and Mexico: The crisis of national cinema, by Ernesto R. Acevedo-Muñoz and published by the Univ of California Press in 2003.  So you can see what I mean, here’s a graphic of the ACLS title page for the Buñuel cinema book I found.

Once you enter the full-text of your book, you can even choose the best display – page image, text,  or pdf – for your own reading comfort or downloading / printing needs.  You can also easily adjust the size of the page if you need a larger font or need to see an illustration in greater detail.

Speaking of illustrations, the few illustrations from book contents that I have seen have not been of the greatest quality.  This is probably the only drawback I can see during my own quick review of this collection.  Let me show you what I mean.

acls heb2

Hmmmm……  in a fantastic collection like HEB, it’s disappointing to see such blurry and grainy images.  This one comes from a book called Gay L.A. by Lillian Faderman.  There are lots of illustrations in this interesting book and none of them seems to be scanned clearly, which is really too bad.  It’s just not the same high quality images you will find in the original hardback book.  I haven’t found illustrations in other HEB books yet to compare but my guess is that this may be a current weakness throughout this collection.  You’ll need to see what you think.

So, do use this collection to find a surprising breadth of full-text eBooks in the humanities.  Don’t expect to find high quality book illustration images you can use (copyright permitting) in other projects.  You will though find nice quality reproductions of book covers.  And yes, you can find these books through Quick Search too.  Overall, a big positive addition to the Library’s collections.  Give ACLS HEB a test drive and let me know what you think!

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A Day without a Mexican

Standing on line at the café waiting for my morning coffee, CNN was doing a spot on A Day without a Mexican, Sergio Arau’s “mockumentary” satire from 2004.  Scripted like a sci-fi thriller, the film depicts the shocking story of Mexican & Mexican American people disappearing throughout California, leaving hordes of panicky white folks to deal with their own cooking, laundering, babysitting, gardening, and other responsibilities.

Trailer: A Day without a Mexican

The documentary makes its point with humor and some tragedy, and can serve as a useful tool for class discussions on the often difficult topics of immigration, race, economic refugees, and class privilege.  The Library owns A Day without A Mexican in both DVD and video formats.  Here are the details, along with other recent and classic DVDs and videos on the topic of Latin American immigration.

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A Day without a Mexican; dir. by Sergio Arau
“Presented in documentary fashion, this program shows what might happen, what adverse effects there would be, etc. if all Mexican Americans and Mexicans in the United States were to vanish.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 462)

AbUSed:  THe Postville Raid; dir. by Luis Argueta
“The arrest of nearly 400 undocumented workers in Postville, Iowa, pushed the town to the brink of collapse and severed an economic lifeline to one of the poorest areas in the Western Hemisphere. These are stories in Guatemala and Iowa of the immigrants affected.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 005 162)

 Trailer: AbUSed: The Postville Raid

Postville: When cultures collide; Iowa Public Television
“Tells the story of how a small Iowa town is dealing with multiculturalism. Postville, Iowa is where more than 300 Hasidic Jews, plus hundreds of Mexicans, Guatelmalans, Ukrainians and Russians have taken up residence in the last decade. Explores the struggles and rewards of the social and economic changes.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 808)
Which Way Home (HBO Documentary Films); dir. Rebecca Cammisa
“A feature documentary that follows unaccompanied child migrants on their journey through Mexico as they try to reach the United States. We follow children like Olga and Freddy, 9-year old Hondurans, who are trying to reach their parents in the U.S. Children like Jose, a 10-year old El Salvadoran, who has been abandoned by smugglers and ends up alone in a Mexican detention center, and Kevin, a streetwise 14-year-old Honduran, whose mother hopes that he will reach the U.S.”  Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 792)

Trailer: Which Way Home


La Caminata / The journey; dir. by Jamie Meltzer
“Fed up with the mass migration of their community, the small Mexican town of Alberto creates a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction they call La Caminata, a simulated nighttime border crossing, complete with fake border patrol chasing balaclava-clad coyotes. The experience is a cross between adventure tourism and a way for participants, largely middle class Mexican tourists, to experience firsthand the hardships of the border crossing. La Caminata details the story of this unlikely attempt to save a small community, offering a powerful look at the effect of migration in home communities, and opening a view to the immigration debate on the other side.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 006 793)

Children in No Man’s Land / Niños en tierra de nadie; dir. Anayansi Prado
“Relates “the story of Maria de Jesus (13) and her cousin Rene (12) as they attempt to cross the [Mexican-American Border Region] alone to reunite with their mothers in the Midwest. Focusing on minors crossing through the Sonora Desert area in Nogales, Arizona, this film explores every detail of these children’s journey as well as the journeys of other children we meet on the way.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 787)

A Little Salsa on the Prairie: The Changing Character of Perry, Iowa
“Summary of the history of a rural Midwest community, particularly its industry, immigration and ethnicity. Includes the rise and fall of the railroad and emergence of meatpacking as its major employer in the 1960s; investigates and portrays changes in the economy, society, and physical environment that arose due to Latino immigration in the 1980s and 1990s.”  Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 389)

Trailer: A Little Salsa on the Prairie

Letters from the other side; dir. by Heather Courtney
“Heather Courtney’s film interweaves video letters carried across the U.S.-Mexico border by the film’s director with the personal stories of women left behind in post-NAFTA Mexico. The video letters provides a way for these women to communicate with both loved ones and strangers on the other side of the border, and illustrates an unjust truth – as an American Courtney can carry these video letters back and forth across a border that these women are not legally allowed to cross. Focusing on a side of the immigration story rarely told by the media or touched upon in the national debate, the film offers a fresh perspective, painting a complex portrait of families torn apart by economics, communities dying at the hands of globalization, and governments incapable or unwilling to do anything about it.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 000 932)

De l’autre côté / From the other side; dir. by Chantal Akerman
“In images and interviews, this film examines the plight of poor Mexicans who try to emigrate to the United States illegally with the hope of a better life. U.S. attempts to stem the influx has forced immigrants to take dangerous routes to avoid detection, and many have died.”  In French, English, & Spanish, with English subtitles.  From renowned and prolific  Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman.
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 006 494)

Del otro lado del cristal / On the other side of the glass (ICAIC)
“Documentary on “Operación Peter Pan,” during which thousands of Cuban children left Havana for Miami without their parents between 1960-1962.”  In Spanish, with English subtitles.  From the renowned Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográfica (ICAIC).
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 389)

María Full of Grace; HBO Films, dir. Joshua Marston
“Maria, a poor Colombian teenager, is desperate to leave a soul-crushing job. She accepts an offer to transport packets of heroin – which she swallows – to the United States. The ruthless world of drug trafficking proves to be more than she bargained for.”  
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 000 900)

[Trailer: María Full of Grace – now replaced by a playlist Motorcycle Diaries!]

Diarios de motocicleta / Motorcycle Diaries; dir. by Walter Salles
(Okay, this one does not fit our theme at all but I just noticed the Maria Full of Grace trailer has  been replaced by a video playlist that starts with a Motorcycle Diaries trailer.  Playlists – go figure!  You can skip ahead about 6 or 7 videos to view the Maria Full of Grace trailer, or enjoy viewing them all.  It’s quite an eclectic collection!  Just the same, we do own Motorcycle Diaries, which tells the tale of the young Ernesto “Che” Guevara who drives his motorcycle across Latin America, learning many life lessons and becoming politicized along the way.  Enjoy the beautiful music by Gustavo Santaolalla in this trailer! Hey, we own the cd of his soundtrack for the film as well:  Disc 004 205 in the Media Center!  Check it out!)
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 001 134)

Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary; dir. Laura Angélica Simón
“A documentary by Los Angeles teacher Laura Angelica Simón, exploring the impact of California’s Proposition 187 on the immigrant community. The subject is Hoover Street Elementary School, where Simón candidly explores the attitudes and emotions of teachers, students and parents, focusing on a ten year old Salvadorian girl.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 002 738)

Trailer: El Norte

El Norte; dir. by Gregory Nava
The 1983 classic and still powerful film:  “Mayan Indian peasants are tired of being thought of as nothing more than manual laborers. They organize an effort to improve their lot in life, but are discovered by the Guatemalan army. After the army destroys their village and family, Enrique and Rosa, a teenage brother and sister, who barely escaped the massacre, decide they must flee to United States. After receiving clandestine help from friends and humorous advice from a veteran immigrant on strategies for traveling, they make their way by truck, bus and other means to Los Angeles, where they try to make a new life as young, uneducated, and illegal immigrants.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 003 728)

HAPI days

For many years, I used to be an indexer for the Hispanic American Periodicals Index, known by its felicitous acronym, HAPI.   Indexes of course are the primary finding tools you want to use when you’re looking for journal articles or magazine articles on your topic.  Indexers are the people who page through journals and research materials of interest and describe relevant contents, using pre-defined categories and vocabulary.  Produced by UCLA’s Latin American Center, and staffed by volunteer indexers from around the world, HAPI is first place you and your students should look when looking for research articles on Latin American and US Latin@ topics that fall within the social sciences and the humanities.  There is also selective coverage of agricultural and some science subject areas.  According to their website, the index includes “over 275,000 journal article citations” from 1977 to the present and from over 600 international research journals.

The technology world is changing so fast.  I think IT workers and librarians are some of the most qualified professionals to note how quickly everything now changes.  When I first began my work as an indexer, HAPI was still in book format only – a big, cheery bright orange of a book.  When the index went online, they retained their trademark orange and tweaked the name to become HAPI Online.

  HAPI is primarily a Latin American-focused index, which means that most contents deal with Mexico, Central America, Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations, and South America, including Portuguese-speaking Brazil.  Articles in HAPI come from a wide range of respected research journals published around the world that have a Latin American (or US Latin@) focus.  HAPI is also an excellent tool for finding research articles about Latin American indigenous peoples, and Indian cultures and traditions throughout the region.  During my tenure with HAPI, I worked with articles published in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and even Dutch.  Much of the work focused on paging through newly released journals on my assigned list, and filling out the indexing forms to indicate author, title of article, name of journal, volume, issue, page numbers, any illustrations, and then assign subject headings working from a lengthy published list of approved subject headings.

Subject headings – called “descriptors” in some indexes – are extremely important in online indexes like HAPI that do not provide full-text articles within the index itself.   When an index does include full-text, it’s easy to search any terms and find at least some results.  That’s because the system is searching all full-text AND citations, looking for your search terms.   Serious researchers tend to understand the power of defined subject heading searches.  They allow you really quickly to discover what the index has on your specific topic, and you don’t have to wonder whether you missed anything.

But what about the Library’s Quick Search?  Doesn’t that also search for articles?  Yes, it does – but the background of Quick Search is that it hooks up with many but not all of the Library’s subscription databases, like HAPI.  Take a look at the list of indexes & databases from which Quick Search pulls its articles.  Do you see HAPI listed there?  I didn’t think so.  Simply put, Quick Search is configured to work with indexes that align well with its own design.  HAPI, and other indexes developed by academic research centers or certain publishers, do not align well with Quick Search and thus their unique contents are not accessed or searched when you search using Quick Search.  This means that you will definitely want to use HAPI whenever you need to make sure that your search on Latin American or Latin@ issues is comprehensive and current.

But that doesn’t mean Quick Search will not have relevant Latin American/Latin@ articles.  Other indexes that work well with Quick Search certainly do have some Latin American/Latin@-focused content.  For example, the MLA International Bibliography index will certainly include literary criticism and similar research articles on Latin American / Latin@ authors and their works.

Quick Search vs. HAPI:  So, what if we do a test drive of Quick Search vs. HAPI?  We’ll choose a random topic or two and see what we find in terms of research (peer-reviewed) journal articles.

Random topic #1:  Literary criticism and Julio Cortázar

Quick Search quickly finds 107 “research articles”, with Quick Search’s menus set to find “Articles” (1st drop down menu) and set to find my terms “anywhere” in the record.  (When I do the same search but set the 3rd drop-down menu to find my words “in subject”, Quick Search finds only 1 article.  And when I do the original search again moments later, it retrieved only 102 research articles.  Quick Search is dynamic, which means results may vary from search to search.)   Most of the articles I found seem to come from journals that are in English, and not Latin American in focus, such as the women’s studies journal Signs; the library science journal Collection Management, Studies in Short Fiction, and so on.

Julio Cortazar & gatito

On the 2nd page of my results, a few Latin American-focused journals begin to show up, including Explicacion de textos literarios; Latin American Literary Review, and Variaciones Borges.  Many of the articles, however, do not seem to be truly focused on Cortazar.  Since we’re searching full-text articles in Quick Search, it’s likely many of the articles may mention his name in passing within the text yet not truly focus on literary criticism on any of Cortázar’s works.  Of the first 20 results, 16 of the articles were in English, and only 4 in Spanish.  When I search only the words criticism AND Julio Cortázar, with the menus set to find “Articles” and my words “in subject,” and set to show peer-reviewed articles only, I find 26 articles.  Of them, 24 are in English and only 2 are in Spanish and Latin American-focused research journals.

HAPI – since this index uses defined subject heading vocabulary, I searched only the words criticism and cortázar.  (With a little experimentation, I quickly see that the HAPI index does not use “literary criticism” as a subject phrase. So I simplify, and drop the word literary, figuring Cortázar and criticism will probably be unique enough in this index.) Turns out I’m right! This search strategy quickly finds 736 research articles.  Because we are not searching full-text in HAPI – just the citations and coded subject headings – there is a much stronger likelihood that the majority of these articles are indeed about Cortázar and criticism of his specific works.  All of the journals have a strong focus on Latin American research, since that’s the pre-requisite for inclusion in the HAPI index.  Of the first 20 results, 14 of the articles were in Spanish; 1 in Portuguese, 1 in Italian, and the remaining 4 were in English. Nice!

Random topic #2:  Rock en español 

Quick Search – finds 12 “research articles” on the whole phrase, Rock en español, when set to find “Articles” (1st drop-down menu) and filtered to show “research articles” only.   (When I do the same search but set the 3rd drop-down menu to find my words “in subject”, Quick Search finds no results at all.)    Of the 12 results found earlier (finding my words “anywhere”), all are in English.  A number of them appear to be in popular or trade magazines, such as Publishers Weekly and Latin Trade, despite Quick Search’s filter to show “research articles” only and their claim that these are peer-reviewed journals.   Once again, a number of the the articles appear NOT to be focused on Rock en español, which means the phrase must show up within the full-text.  One article I found, from a publication called Community Development, focuses on the Latin@ population of Perry, Iowa.  Where does Rock en español come in?  Here it is, from the full-text article:

  • “Perry’s Viva Latino festival takes place in mid-September and aims to celebrate Latin American culture through music and food. It is organized by Hispanics United for Perry, an informal network of the emerging Latino leadership in town. An impressive array of vendors (especially for a small town like Perry) attends the event, selling tacos and burritos from Mexico, tamales from Guatemala and pupusas from El Salvador. Bands from throughout the region play both traditional Mexican music and more contemporary Rock En Espanol. Unfortunately, this opportunity to showcase Latino culture in Perry is relegated to the background, because the venue of the festival has been a dilapidated park rather than the recently redeveloped central square of downtown Perry which is next to the Carnegie Library and Hotel Pattee.”
    (Trabalzi, Ferro,  & Sandoval, Gerardo.  “The Exotic Other: Latinos & the remaking of Latino identity in Perry, Iowa,” Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society, Jan-March, 2010, Vol.41(1), p.76(16).
Interesting, but not focused on our topic at all.

HAPI – finds 3 research articles on the whole phrase, Rock en español, which is not an official subject heading in HAPI.  A search on rock AND music AND español finds 4 research articles.  Journals include Studies in Latin American Popular Culture, Latin American Music Review, and Americas.  All 4 articles are in English.  Two of these 4 articles were also found by Quick Search.

Café Tacvba canta “Chica banda”, cortesía de YouTube

Side note:  One of my fun achievements while at HAPI was the establishment of Café Tacvba as a recognized subject heading!  I also successfully advocated for the addition of Centro Journal from the Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos  to be added to list of indexed journals.

Random topic #3: Mexican Americans and education

Quick Search – finds 142 results when set to find “Articles” (1st drop-down menu) and find my words “in subject” area (3rd drop-down menu), and filtered to show “research articles” only.  Despite these settings and filters, irrelevant articles still pop up.  For example, “Racial & ethnic socialization in later generations of a Mexican American family” pops up because one of its subject headings is “Generation gap – educational aspects.”   Another article on “Community based violence,” an article on spousal abuse, shows up because of a subject heading called “Women-education.”

HAPI – finds 153 research articles on the terms Mexican Americans and education.  Articles come from well-known & widely respected Latin@-focused journals such as Journal of Latinos and Education; Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences; Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy; Latino Studies, and more.  The articles are all focused on highly relevant topics such as higher education, K-12 education, educational attainment of immigrant children, and so on.  Looks like all the first 20 results on this topic are in English.

Random topic #4:  Indians of Colombia

Quick Search – set to search Indians AND Colombia with 1st drop-down menu set to Articles and 3rd drop-down menu set to find my words “in subject,” and filtered to show only “Peer-reviewed articles,”  Quick Search finds 19 articles, 1 of which is listed twice in the results.  13 of the unique articles are in English, with a few – such as an article on the Garifuna diaspora in New York City and Honduras – that seem not to be on our topic at all.  Turns out that article popped up not due to subject headings (odd, since the search was set to look only in the subject areas!) but due to a misspelling in the full-text that refers to “…pre-Colombian [sic] civilization in the Americas”.   Most of the articles retrieved are in English, with a small handful in Spanish.

  HAPI – finds 34 research articles, many with a strong focus on contemporary issues including displacement by the petroleum industry; internal migration and displacement due to national violence and instability, biodiversity and ecological concerns, and other topics.  Other articles focus on traditions, specific cultures, and histories. Of the 34 articles,  23 are in Spanish, 10 are in English, one in French.

Results?  Well, I’d say that searchers content on finding/using something/anything, maybe Quick Search is okay.  But if your Latin American/Latin@ research really matters, and especially if you’re looking for research articles in Spanish, you’ll want and need to use HAPI.

Interlibrary Loan – shout out to my good colleagues in the Interlibrary Loan / ILL office.  It’s true we will not own every journal indexed in HAPI.  Few if any libraries across the nation do.   Just use our fabulous ILL services and you should have your article delivered to you – most likely via email – within a few days.

Finding HAPI – So, how do you find HAPI to recommend it to students & ISU colleagues?  Go to the eLibrary’s Article Indexes and Databases list, and you’ll find it listed there by name.  Give HAPI a whirl, and enjoy!!