Best Databases 2013 | Best Reference

Database reviewer LaGuardia below outlines her picks for the best resources of the year, including her favorite rerelease, a great option for the job seekers in your library. For a list of the databases lauded by our readers, see


Bridgeman Art Library.
Bridgeman Education.

This interdisciplinary database offers access to Bridgeman Art Library’s collection of over 500,000 JPEG images (with 500 more added each week) from 8,000-plus museums and private collections worldwide. Images date from prehistory to the present day, including a host of media and sources (fine art, anthropological artifacts, antiques, architecture, ceramics, design, engravings, furniture, glass, maps, photography, sculpture, and more). All images are copyright cleared for educational use and are available for commercial licensing. Unreservedly recommended for all libraries serving anyone needing art and historic images.

Democratic, Republican, and Third Parties in America: An Encyclopedia (1790s–2013).
M.E. Sharpe.

This seamless, cross-searchable file covers the history of major American political parties, along with party platform statements from 1832 to 2008. Third parties and alternative political movements from the 18th through 21st centuries are also discussed, along with national election summaries and statistics, individual state party portraits and statistics, and biographical sketches of 250-plus political leaders. There’s also an image gallery, a primary-source archive, about 1,000 editorially selected, annotated links to websites, and “Teachers’ Resources,” online materials for the use of history teachers. The primary-source archive offers especially nifty materials. It’s fascinating simply to browse these sources, but they’re searchable as well. The content rocks, and the multiple means of accessing it are a boon for different-style learners.

Encyclopedia of Social Work.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW Pr.) and Oxford University.

This online encyclopedia collects over 400 scholarly overview articles on important topics ranging from addictions and substance use to social justice and human rights. Content here is outstanding; the producers know their target audience and have anticipated their needs well. This is one of the few print-to-ebook conversions I’ve seen that both preserves and adds to the original product.

The First World War: Personal Experiences and Propaganda and Recruitment.
Adam Matthew Digital.

The First World War is comprised of the modules: “Personal Experiences” and “Propaganda and Recruitment,” which collectively cover the period from 1914 to 1919. Material includes audio-recorded interviews, cartoons, comics, diaries, letters, paintings, panoramic views, photographs, postcards, propaganda, recruiting posters, reminiscences, scrapbooks, sheet music, sketches, souvenirs, trench journals, trench maps, war art, 360° views of personal items and objects, aerial leaflets, Daily Mirror wartime front pages, minute books of recruiting committees, and items from the Vera Brittain Archive. This portal will bring the Great War directly to the desktops of researchers ranging from high school students to the most ­advanced World War I scholar.

Modern Genocide: Understanding Causes and Consequences.

This file covers the ten most significant modern genocides (Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur, East Timor, Guatemala, Rwanda, Herero, the Holocaust, and the Kurdish Genocide) in depth. It holds 1,200 reference items on individuals, events, organizations, and places; feature stories connecting current events with historical references; signed essays on topics such as factors that precede and cause genocide; 300 primary sources about modern genocides; learning activities to make it through difficult material; a description of an “eight stages of genocide” framework; and a media library of photographs, maps, and videos. The thoughtful, intelligent content combined with powerful means of accessing it have created a stunning product for any library collection.

Southern Life and African American History, 1775–1915, Plantations Records I; Slavery and the Law.

ProQuest’s History Vault interface offers a simple search box accompanied by suggested searches and a browse events box with links to more information. Clicking a subject reveals a time line of significant events from which relevant documents are retrieved immediately. Clicking one suggested search, “Sale of slave children,” found petitions to the court about buying and selling slave children in harrowing detail couched in impersonal, businesslike language. A browse of State Slavery Statues found results from 1789 to 1865—invaluable material that will be gold to American history scholars. The virtually exhaustive content of plantation records and court documents is astonishing, bringing to the scholar’s desktop a treasure trove of primary source material on the Southern economy interwoven with personal and legal realities of the slave trade. These modules of History Vault are extraordinary, necessary historical resources.

Excellent rerelease

Career Cruising 2.0. Career Cruising.

This web-based career guidance system is designed to help students choose and plan for a career. It includes self-assessment tools and copious up-to-date information about postsecondary schools, scholarships and financial aid, and effective job searching, along with advice on how to keep a job. The main difference from the previous version is that Career Cruising 2.0 focuses strongly on the student’s self-built portfolio (My Plan), with each of the main sections of the system (Assessments, Careers, Education, Financial Aid, and Employment) feeding directly into that plan. The redesign is much more than a mere face-lift: it rightly emphasizes students ­actively building a portfolio and devising a career plan based on it.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 1, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Cheryl LaGuardia About Cheryl LaGuardia

Cheryl LaGuardia always wanted to be a librarian, and has been one for more years than she's going to admit. She cracked open her first CPU to install a CD-ROM card in the mid-1980's, pioneered e-resource reviewing for Library Journal in the early 90's (picture calico bonnets and prairie schooners on the web...), won the Louis Shores / Oryx Press Award for Professional Reviewing, and has been working for truth, justice, and better electronic library resources ever since. Reach her at, where she's a Research Librarian at Harvard University.