Monthly Archives: February 2010

Lots of new content…

I just finished uploading 5000+ additional citations today, which reminds me that it’s about time for an update on what’s been added in the past few weeks. With the most recent import, I’ve added content from three of the five books in Paul Silverstone’s “U.S. Navy Warship Series”. The series covers the history of the US Navy from 1775 to 2007, in a series of five attractive and comprehensive books, published by the Naval Institute Press and Routledge.

I’ve added Civil War Navies, 1855-1883; The Navy of World War II, 1922-1947; and The Navy of the Nuclear Age, 1947-2007. I still need to work through and add index content from The Sailing Navy, 1775-1854 and The New Navy, 1883-1922. Of the ones I’ve added so far, the WWII volume (added today) and the Nuclear Age volume each have over 5,000 entries in their indexes. The Civil War volume has many fewer, and unfortunately doesn’t include any merchant vessels in the index, which is certainly a shame.

Anyway, here’s a list of most of what I’ve added since the last listing of newly-added content, nearly a month(!) ago:

That’s a pile of stuff! Multiple Navy Records Society volumes, which are particularly valuable for those studying British naval history; the Silverstone volumes and the PMARS database for those working on US naval history; Early South Carolina Newspapers Database for those interested in Southern US colonial history; several resources for steamship buffs (especially the steamship postcards available in Newman’s online collection); Mains’l Haul for Western and general history, and some random things, as well. In the past month, it looks like I’ve added content from two journal indexes, two online resources, and a pile of books.

You can always see new content added to the database on the resources page. Any content added in the past 45 days will have a “NEW!” icon next to it. As you can see from that page, that adds up to a lot of new stuff.

In addition, I’ve reimported most (but not all) of the freely-available files, so that they’ll show the illustration icon when they’ve got one. Those files were added to the database before we had the illustration and “main entry” icons, and you can still tell that an entry has an illustration — usually when the page number is in italics — but it didn’t show the icon. By processing and reimporting those files, the icons are now appearing. I’m still working on one big file, but I’ve covered a lot of the others. That’s some of what’s going on at ShipIndex world headquarters.

As always, let me know if there’s content you’d like to see added (more NRS volumes are on the way, as are a couple of important journal indexes), or if you have any other items to share.

Cool new enhancements!

Well, we’ve done a ton of stuff since coming back from Boston. While in Boston at the ALA Midwinter conference, Mike and I met with about fifteen different people to get feedback on how to improve the site. Each meeting was about 45 minutes long, and the whole experience was really fantastic. We met with academic reference librarians, public librarians, electronic resources librarians, genealogy librarians, authors, content providers, folks with library services businesses that we admire, and tons more. We came away with pages and pages and pages of modifications to make.

Some of these changes are/were easy, and some will be a lot tougher. On Saturday, Mike put new code up on the site, and many of the changes are now visible there. Since we do a lot of iterative releases, we don’t use ‘release numbers,’ but if we did, all the enhanced functionality that has just gone live would definitely deserve a ‘dot version’ – like, say, from 2.1 to 2.2. And, in fact, it probably would deserve an upgrade from version 2.x to 3.0, because of the new institutional access that I’ll get to later. (That doesn’t have much front-end visibility, but it has been a huge change on the back end.)

Here are a few of the changes you’ll see:

  • A “new” icon next to any item added in the last 45 days.
  • Better layout on the results pages
  • Better diacritics management
  • Links to resources open in new windows
  • More, and updated, information on the webpage, especially regarding individual subscriptions
  • A completely new “librarians” tab, with information for librarians, regarding our new institutional service

In addition, he created a number of tools that will help us better identify and proactively correct data issues.

With the new importing tools, I’ve imported several new files in the last few days, and have also started to go back to improve and reimport some of the older files. There are a number of files in the freely-accessible collection that have illustrations but don’t indicate that on the results pages. I’ve already corrected a few of those, and more will be corrected soon. Those don’t count as “new” resources, and they remain freely-accessible.

The biggest deal, though, is INSTITUTIONAL ACCESS! We can now offer subscriptions via IP-authentication, for institution-wide access. Check out our librarians page for more information about this. If you’re interested in a setting up a trial for your institution, please drop us a line at sales (at) shipindex (dot) org. Or recommend us to your local librarian! We can provide access for academic, public, special, and other libraries. And, to top it off, we’re offering “plankowner” discounts for institutions that join us before June. Contact us soon for more information.

This release is a big deal all around for us, and it’ll lead to a lot more content being added (two completely new resources have already been added today, and four have been improved and updated over the past two days). Results will be easier to use, and of course institutions can now subscribe, as well.

We’ve got more improvements and enhancements in the works, so let us know about any changes you’d like to see.

Last night’s dream

So, I don’t usually remember my dreams. It’s just the way I am. When I do, though, I try to pay attention.

Last night, I dreamt that I was visiting a library, and meeting with librarians there. Not too unusual, except for a few things. First, there was a freeway running through the library. Well, not running through it — I think the library and freeway were built at the same time, so really, they were part of each other. You could say the freeway had a library built around it. It did mean, though, that there were some pretty weird twists and turns to the building.

Anyway, while meeting with the librarians, one showed me an index I’d always hoped existed, but had never actually seen. She thought I’d be interested in it, and I certainly was. It was a spiral-bound index to the New York Times, on various special subjects. It was an annual volume, so presumably there were many, many others — hopefully one for every year since 1851, or maybe a bit more recent.  There were tabs to different subjects covered by the index, and one of them, about two-thirds of the way through, was an index to — wait for it — wait for it — ships, mentioned in the NYT. Ah… love at first sight. Truly.

I had looked for such a thing in the past. Well, not really, actually — I’d looked for ships listed in the annual volumes of the NYT Index, but I’d never looked for a separate, supplemental index to the NYT. Could such a thing exist? Sure it could. It’s the NYT, after all. So I was absolutely thrilled to find this. I wrote down as much bibliographic information as I could, so I could find a library that owned such a thing once I got home, and then review every single volume of it, to collect citations for every vessel mentioned in the New York Times.

When I woke up, there was, of course, no such piece of paper next to my bed. So, alas, I still don’t have an index to ships mentioned in the NYT. But if it existed in my dreams, it seems there might be a very, very small chance that it exists in real life, right? If you know of such an index, please, please, please let me know. I’ll be forever in your debt…