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World History in Video: English-Language Documentaries

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World History in Video is a database from Alexander Street Press. It is a source for hundreds of videos on historical events, ranging from ancient to modern times, in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, Oceana, and elsewhere. However, the majority of these videos are on European, Asian, and North American history, and as a consequence this database offers noticeably less coverage of the history of the rest of the world. Nevertheless, new videos are being added on a continual basis, so there is the possibility that this ratio may change over time. The films on offer here are in English or are subtitled in English, so this database may be of marginal use to non-English speakers.

This database’s search and browsing mechanisms are easy to understand and allow the user to retrieve videos in a number of ways. Boolean operators can be used when searching, but are not required. Also, searches can be limited in numerous ways, including by subject, title, series, transcript, video type, historical event, publication date, and many others. Both a single search bar and an advanced search are available to the user, though the latter search is generally more effective than the former. Lists of results are easy to browse and understand, and individual videos are simple to view and navigate. In most cases, videos have accompanying transcripts that can be read as the video is playing. Pricing for this database is quite variable. It is primarily dependent on institutional budget, and secondarily on FTE. However, even with this variability the cost of subscribing to this database, or making a one-time purchase of its content, is not excessive. Potential subscribers should contact Alexander Street Press for pricing specific to their institution. The contract provisions for this database are fairly standard, and will give potential customers little cause for concern. As with all contracts, however, interested parties should review carefully before making a commitment. This database is a good source for videos on world history, especially for the history of Europe, Asia and North America. It may not be suitable for all libraries however, and will only be of use to those institutions that have a significant need for this kind of information, and then only for those which can afford the cost.

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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