PolicyMap, Bloomsbury Collections, and Statista | Reference eReviews, May 15, 2015



The Reinvestment Fund; policymap.com.

To request a free trial, please email info@policymap.com

By Cheryl LaGuardia

content PolicyMap, a data and mapping resource, combines demographic, health, employment, and socioeconomic data about communities, census tracts, and other regions within the United States with the ability to map that data across the country. The file offers full-screen maps, a zoom search option, data menus, and 15,000 geographic indicators. Report and table functions allow users to create detailed reports on a geographic area and quickly develop three-layer maps to overlay multiple data layers on a single map.

Maps can be customized using on-screen legends, year variables, ranges, and other tools; and can be emailed, saved to a MyPolicyMap account, printed, or embedded onto a website. There is also the option to upload data into PolicyMap using the system’s Data Loader. Figures come from a wide variety of agencies and companies, ranging from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to Valassis Lists (the nation’s largest direct mail marketing company). Several Premium Subscriber Datasets are available at extra cost. (For a full list of PolicyMap data sources please see the Data Directory at: policymap.com/our-data-directory.html).

USABILITY PolicyMap’s homepage features a large map of the United States, with a single search box and drop-down menu for additional options such as location, census tract, block group, Congressional district, Senate, school district, state district, or metro area. Users can also query an address, city, county, state, or zip code.

To the right of the search box are options to email, print, save, embed, and download, the last of which is noted as “coming soon.” Below the search box are links to topical sections: MyData, Demographics, Incomes and Spending, Housing, Lending, Quality of Life, Economy, Education, Health, Federal Guidelines, and Analytics. At the top of the screen are links to maps, tables, reports, three-layer maps, and data loader, followed at right by links to My PolicyMap, and more.

Since I am not a power GIS (geographic information system) user, I expected to be daunted by this file. To get started, I typed the name of my hometown (Sidney, NY) into the search box. The map zoomed to a point labeled “Sidney, NY (County Subdivision, 2010).” Under the Demographics option, I chose “Population, Total,” which brought up a data-layer legend showing the date 2012 along with a color-coded data range showing that as of that year, Sidney fell in the range 5,700 to 39,143. But I wanted the actual total population for Sidney and didn’t see it.

I selected the area shaded the same color as the legend displayed for Sidney and saw a pop-up balloon that gave the total populations for the United States (309,138,711), New York state (19,398,125), Delaware county (47,851), and Sidney (5,772). It also provided the Census Tract number for 2010, with links to “See Table” and “Get Report.”

Requesting the table, I was taken to a Wizard that showed me not only how to make a comparative table (by adding a location in the search box) but also how to view trends over time (by clicking “Across Years” in the legend at left). I admit this was immediately addictive; within seconds I had a table comparing the populations of Sidney and nearby towns and could have gone on adding locations but instead went back to the main map and clicked reports on the top bar.

Upon doing so, I viewed a screen with four report-type choices at left (community profile, rental housing report, HMDA [Home Mortgage Reporting Act] report, and home sale report) while four report locations arrayed to the right: predefined location, radius, custom region, and polygon. I chose to view a community profile report for Sidney, NY (by clicking and typing Sidney in a location Search box). That brought up a zoomed-in map of the town, but I didn’t immediately see any further action being prompted for me to take. After scanning the entire screen I found, at the far right side of the page, a “Generate Report“ button.

Selecting this option led to a detailed, four-screen “Community Profile Report of City: Sidney,” including: school district(s), Congressional district(s), Senators, State Senate district(s), State House district(s), population trends, racial characteristics, age distribution, incomes, immigration, families and households, housing type, tenure, vacancy, employment (six months’ worth of data), crime, and endnotes explaining values and calculations.

The three-layer maps button caught my eye as soon as I took a look at this resource, and I attempted to try one (feeling a bit less daunted based on my experience thus far, but nervous nonetheless). Upon clicking the pertinent button, I was transitioned to a Wizard that told me how to make such a map in four steps. I followed the instructions by entering a location and choosing three different data sets: per capita income, robberies, and murders per 100,000 people. The results were several gray-shaded areas on the map, with a note appearing below the legend stating that “Purple areas on the map show locations where all criteria are met.” But I didn’t see any purple areas. When I clicked the shaded area for Sidney I found the per capita income ($20,704) and the number of robberies in 2000 (four), but under murders was the note, “Insufficient Data.” When I scanned more widely over the map, I noticed a purple area which met all criteria: Binghamton, with an average of seven murders in 2000.

I would change some things here. There should be a prompt that comes up, telling researchers to click on a map location to display data. And the faint gray fonts that display on important function keys and links are hardly discernible, and need to be more prominent—darker, perhaps?

PRICING Prices for academic site licenses range from $2,000–$12,000 annually, based on the number of FTE. The price range for public library site licenses is $2,000–$17,000 annually, depending on the population served. For more details about pricing and licensing please get in touch with PolicyMap, at info@policymap.com or 866-923-MAPS.

VERDICT Overall, this resource is excellent and can do a lot more than space permits me to describe. The file is usually intuitive and the Wizards are a bonus. But the system could be made even easier for researchers with explicit, rather than implicit, actions and better use of color. Recommended at the right price.

Cheryl LaGuardia is a Research Librarian for the Widener Library at Harvard University and author of Becoming a Library Teacher (Neal-Schuman, 2000). Readers can contact her at claguard@fas.harvard.edu


Bloomsbury Collections

Bloomsbury Publishing; www.bloomsburycollections.com.

To request a free trial, please email james.lingle@bloomsbury.com or call 646-248-5668

By Jason L. Steagall

CONTENT Bloomsbury Collections, part of the UK–based Bloomsbury Publishing, is a full-text ebook resource with more than 4,000 titles in the humanities and social sciences disciplines. Titles are sourced from “Bloomsbury’s latest research publications as well as a 100+ year legacy including Continuum, T&T Clark, Bristol Classical Press, Berg, the Arden Shakespeare and…Hart Publishing.” Approximately three-quarters of the 4,000-plus titles have been published since 2005.

The collections include more than 70 subject headings such as Theology 2014, Politics Archive 1993–2013, and Medieval History Archive 1981–2013. In addition to the many choices of collections, there are also 15 broad subjects such as biblical studies, history, and sociology. In 2015, 15 collections will be updated. A “Biblical Studies 2015” collection is forthcoming.

Libraries have options to purchase by subject (e.g., history: 375 titles), collection year (“History 2014”: 51 titles), or series (“Inventing the Nation”: 2 titles). There is a vastly usable spreadsheet to download from the website listing all collections, titles, and updates.

Library resources available for promotion include a brochure, website banners, and a video guide. Other benefits for librarians include “unlimited access via IP authentication…MARC records with durable links at title level, DOIs at book and chapter level,” usage statistics, and library branding.

USABILITY There are several methods to searching the collection. The first is a “Browse by Subject” option with a listing of all 16 subjects. Somewhat confusingly, the list is alphabetical on a horizontal listing, but the four columns have a vertical dashed dividing line that encourages the user to read them vertically.

As a result of clicking on a particular subject, the entire catalog of books on that topic is displayed (including volumes that aren’t viewable if the library doesn’t have a subscription). A nice feature is that, upon selecting a particular subject, a left-hand column listing of all subjects appears as the user scrolls down. Moreover, the selected subject has several subcategories to choose from. For example, clicking on “Religious Studies” brings up 29 subcategories that allow for further specifying the search. This left column also includes the number of items for each subcategory. Above the search results are options to allow users to easily remove limiters or click on “Clear Filters” to begin a new query.

Another method of searching is via the box near the top right-hand side of each page. A basic query box allows for entering keywords, phrases, titles, or authors. A link to the “Advanced Search” provides users with one row to type in the keywords, etc., with a drop-down menu for choosing where to search specifically, such as “anywhere, title, author.” Additional rows can be added, along with Boolean operators, by clicking the “Add Row” button. One can also limit by publication date range, by subject, and by collection. Results will be displayed by relevance, but users can easily sort listings to be displayed by date or author. The display options also allow for five, ten, or 25 results per page.

The “My Collection” link permits users to create a username and password to maintain their favorite books and chapters. This means that patrons will need to log in each time they used the database.

Upon viewing the results, whether an entire book or a relevant chapter, users must first look for the icon that shows an unlocked padlock which signifies that the library has a subscription to that title. Once the title of the item is selected, the user is taken to the ebook’s individual page. When users click on a chapter title from the results page, that particular chapter will display. If the ebook title is again selected, the title and author will display at the top, along with an image of the book cover.

You can search within the book via a search box and the DOI (digital object identifier), ISBN, collection, subjects and subcategories are all listed. There is a short “Book Summary/Abstract” along with a complete listing of the table of contents, chapter titles, and backmatter such as index and appendixes. A “go to page” option allows users to jump to a specific page, while a list of related titles appears on the right-hand side. Clicking on the author’s name provides credentials and a list of other titles within Bloomsbury Collections from that author.

Once a chapter is selected, the full text opens on the right-side of the webpage. Here, one can read the chapter in full, add as a “Favourite,” download it as a PDF along with options to print, email, or share via social media. If users would like a printed version of the book, there is a “Buy this Book” link. A “Cite” button provides APA, MLA, and Chicago formatting options. (However, the APA citation will be incorrect if each word of the title is capitalized, as this reviewer discovered). Recently viewed and recent searches are saved and easily accessible. For convenience, Bloomsbury Collections can be viewed on a tablet or mobile device with no loss of functionality.

PRICING Each collection has its own individual pricing based on the number of volumes within it, the smallest collection costs $827 and the largest tops out just over $14,000. Fees are the same as the print version with unlimited simultaneous users. Discounts are applicable if an institution is interested in bundling collections. All of these ebooks are purchased as opposed to licensed, and there is no DRM or restrictions for FTE.

VERDICT A new user may need some training from a librarian, but librarians who know their community will be able to add valuable editions to their ebook collection using this resource. This database is most beneficial to academic libraries with ebook users and collections coinciding with those available at Bloomsbury Collections. The only downside is that ebook titles can’t be purchased individually.

Jason L. Steagall is Library Instruction & Reference Specialist, Gateway Technical College, Kenosha, WI. He can be reached at steagallj@gtc.edu




Statista; statista.com.

To request a free trial, please email Courtney Tucci at Courtney.Tucci@statista.com or call 212-419-5764

By Bonnie J.M. Swoger

content Statista is an online statistics aggregator providing business, marketing, demographic, and economic statistics. Since the database was reviewed in LJ in 2012, the company has supplemented the statistical information with a significant amount of content, including company dossiers, topical reports, and high-quality infographics.

Statistics are available here on a wide variety of industries and topics, including advertising, telecommunications, chemicals, energy, education, consumer goods, e-commerce, banking, health care, retail, demographics, sports, transportation, and tourism. Founded in Hamburg, Germany, the resource remains headquartered in Europe. Perhaps as a result, Statista has a remarkably international focus, especially for developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia.

Statista combines statistics from government and NGO sources with industry data from an array of outlets. While much of the government and NGO data is available for free on other websites, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the World Health Organization, Statista makes this information easy to find and use. As the site mixes this freely available knowledge with proprietary industry facts (from industry reports and other sources), it creates a powerful tool for those looking for statistics.

In addition to providing basic statistics on many topics, Statista has used this information to produce reports about various businesses and dossiers on particular companies. Such dossiers are PowerPoint files that add and organize the statistical information available about a particular firm. Unfortunately, very little contextual information is included. Industry reports are typically supplied as PDF files and contain a bit more context and analysis, including an industry SWOT analysis. Detailed source information is included for dossiers and reports.

Subscribers have easy access to the more than 1,400 infographics produced by Statista over the past four years. Some are reproductions of the graphs available elsewhere on the site, with a few added graphics or contextual information. Other infographics are more explanations of complex trends and topics, combing different kinds of information. Infographics are generally licensed under a Creative Commons agreement (CC-BY-ND), allowing users to apply the material freely as long as Statista is credited and no changes are made. For a fee, Statista will also produce custom infographics for a company or organization. Nonsubscribers can see examples of the Statista infographics on Twitter, @StatistaChart.

For academic users, Statista provides suggested citations for the data in APA, Chicago, MLA, Harvard, and Bluebook styles. Like many databases that provide similar citation tools, Statista occasionally gets citations right and occasionally gets them very wrong. Students should be encouraged to use the given citation as a starting point but warned that they will usually need to add information or edit the formatting. Statista always displays the source of the information, emphasizing that the database is the assembler of this information, not the original source.

USABILITY Researchers can find information by browsing the user-friendly interface or searching for specific information. Users who browse the site can use the navigation menu at the top of the page to search industries, companies, topics, or the Statista collection of infographics. This section also permits filtering by information type or by topic. The interface is engaging, and one may easily lose track of time exploring statistics related to favorite stores and brands.

Patrons can delve into Statista via a search box at the top of each page. A slightly more advanced search is available but is difficult to find initially. These additional features are visible at the top of a search results page. Users have the option of setting the “search accuracy” via a drop-down box. Searches default to a “normal” search accuracy, consisting of a Boolean “and” that automatically looks for word fragments. Users can also select a “wide” search accuracy (a Boolean “or,” including word fragments) and a “high” search accuracy, which uses a Boolean “and” but only returns the most important results.

After completing a search, patrons are able to filter for the type of information they seek (statistics, forecasts, studies, dossiers and industry reports, topics, or infographics). Clicking one information type automatically refreshes the page, while users who select multiple types will need to click the “refresh search” button. Other filters include the ability to limit by publication date, topical category, and region. Search results can be sorted by relevance, date of publication, or popularity. Users can also adjust how many results appear on the screen: 25, 50, or 100.

Once a set of statistics is identified, there are several ways of interacting with the data. For most knowledge sets, an interactive bar graph is the default display. When a user places their cursor over each column, they receive a summary of the data. Patrons also have the option of changing the way the information is displayed. Line graphs and tables are available for most statistics. There is also the option to download PNG images, PowerPoint slides, or PDF files of bar charts or line graphs; and the data itself can be downloaded as an XLS file. The ability to swiftly download allows researchers to combine information sets, do their own analyses, and develop their own graphics.

Particular statistics can be added to a list of favorites associated with a user account, which can be arranged as “favorites” into custom collections. These statistics are easy to find again and can be combined into a single PowerPoint download available for offline use. This component could be quite useful for students and professionals alike.

PRICING Total cost is tiered, based on FTE, but fees start at $960 for one year. There are also two- or three-year campus license agreements available.

VERDICT Given its content, Statista focuses its marking on academic users and corporations. Academic business and social science programs would benefit from having an easy-to-use source of statistical information. Recommended for colleges and universities with business programs and for special libraries associated with many types of businesses.

Bonnie J.M. Swoger is the Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and the author of the Undergraduate Science Librarian blog, undergraduatesciencelibrarian.org. Readers can contact her at swoger@geneseo.edu

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