Archive for Books

The Oriental Institute

We admit that we have been lucky that back in the day we walked the streets of Palmyra and gazed upon the Temple of Bel, visited “The Treasury” at Petra while marveling at the ingenuity of the water supply system there, tread the ruins of Carthage and recalled the phrase uttered by Cato at every speech-making opportunity (abbreviated as “Carthago delenda est”,  and strolled among “The “Houses of the Dead” at Meroe. So it should come as no surprise that we recommend the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago with its wealth of online publications. Its entire corpus of 700+ works has been digitized for free access; these works encompass both scholarly and more popular items. Tomes range from Picturing the Past that highlights restoration efforts, whether in line drawings, digital reconstructions, or actual rebuilding to the Assyrian Dictionary, a multi-year project.

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Old School Research

Before the Internet, before electronic catalogs and networks, how did researchers find the locations of books they needed? They relied on printed union catalogs – tools that listed the combined holdings of libraries. The largest one produced was nicknamed “Mansell” in honor of the publisher who produced the massive 754-volume The National union catalog, pre-1956 imprints ; a cumulative author list representing Library of Congress printed cards and titles reported by other American libraries. The title, however, is a misnomer; it was not a truly a “national” catalog but rather a guide to the holdings of major public and private libraries. This is not the place to have found what your town library held. But it was of immense help to scholars trying to track down copies of needed works; we can personally attest to its importance. An article detailing the history and the continued usefulness of this paper product in the electronic age can be found here.

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Guardian Books Podcasts

More than 600 podcasts revolving around the world of books can be freely accessed at this site. It contains author interviews, readings, and discussions along with supplemental writings. Here is an almost hour-long episode dealing with libraries; another features one of our favorite authors – Bill Bryson.

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The Changing Face of Immigration in the United States

Integration of Immigrants into American Society is a timely study from the National Academies Press; it details how immigrants and the policies that decide their fate have changed over the years. Topics explored include legal status, socioeconomic and sociocultural concerns, health and access to care, political ideology, among others. Recommendations for future actions end this tome while relevant citations and data supplement the text. A valuable read especially given the tenor of discussions during this presidential election year. Two excellent sites to keep abreast on immigration are Pew Research Center: Immigration and Migration Policy Institute. Please also peruse this March 14, 2016 CRS report – U.S. Immigration Policy: Chart Book of Key Trends.


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Travel Guides for African-Americans

Travel for African-Americans in this country during the Jim Crow era was certainly curtailed what with “whites only” establishments and “sundown towns” where after dark they could be arrested, beaten, or worse. The Green Books were published between 1936 and 1963 and listed hotels, bars, inns and restaurants where African-Americans would be treated fairly. It was arranged by state, then by city, listing all sorts of establishments. Additional information on this series is available at: NPR, Here & Now, The Atlantic, and The New York Times.

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ETC Press – A Publisher of Books Dealing with Entertainment Technologies

 “Entertainment technologies”? Well, how about books exploring Minecraft in the classroom or design and curricula considerations for incorporating games into the educational experience or research on online and blended learning? These topics and many more are available at this site. These works are written with academic rigor and provide solid foundations for future work.

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Book Translations List

The Index Translationum from UNESCO contains two million records of books translated from over one hundred countries and spanning the years 1979 to 2009.(More recent years are in the process of being integrated into the system.) The information in this system is contributed by the national libraries of the cooperating countries.If you want to track a book’s history in other languages, this is a great place to start. For example, searching for Patrick O’Brian’s Treason’s Harbour from this page shows that this work has been translated into Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, and Japanese. In addition, you can find numerous statistics, among them Top Fifty Authors (the fiftieth author being the mysterious “et al”, Top Original Language, etc. “Last updates” indicates the timeframe for materials that are being processed for inclusion. And partners provides a valuable list of national libraries’ and international organizations’ websites.


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