I began wondering recently which databases and web resources I’d want to have available if I suddenly found myself marooned on a remote island resort in the Indian Ocean like San Serriffe. While we have many wonderful resources available to us through the Consortium Library (and after graduation, through SLED – http://sled.alaska.edu ), my needs might be very different as a castaway. But since I’d be a modern castaway with modern requirements, I’ll plan on finding a wifi coconut tree with battery-charging connections in the trunk, a top quality laptop near a comfortable beach chaise overlooking the sea, and – with any luck – a nice cold kiwi fruit drink right next to an iPad-Mini Retina! But what shall I use them for? Here are a few things that come to mind; the websites are easy to find, and clicking on the ‘Databases’ link on the Library’s home page will lead you to the rest.
1a. Project Gutenberg. (https://www.gutenberg.org )
1b. Literature Criticism Online
Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson would be good castaway role models that I could find in Project Gutenberg, but what if I needed to find out what other people had thought of those books? I’d probably start by searching in Literature Criticism Online.
2. National Geographic Database.
Now, how much, when puka comes to shell, do I really know about islands in the Indian Ocean? Searching the full online text of the National Geographic database can only help!
3a. Mango Languages
3b. LLBA (Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts)
What if Friday shows up and I can’t talk with him? After all, he may want a kiwi fruit drink, too, or to borrow my laptop, or – more importantly – he might know where the kiwi supply is! If I’m signed into Mango Languages, then I can practice any of 30-odd languages and see if he understands me at all. And if they’re all Greek to Friday, then searching in LLBA might come up with articles to help me understand common linguistic patterns of Indian Ocean populations.
4a. PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed )
4c. Zoological Record
Well, it IS the tropics, after all, and it might not be all pineapples and coconut cream pies out there. It only makes sense to have some excellent health information resources like PubMed on hand just in case. And does anyone know if there are any poisonous snakes or insects on San Serriffe? Better check Zoological Record and Toxline — and taking another careful look in that National Geographic database won’t hurt, either!
5a. Sage Research Methods
5b. Student Resources in Context
If I were a student and had to work on a capstone project while marooned at San Serriffe, this database could help me learn how to do effective social science research. For term papers for other classes, I could find a lot of articles on many different subjects in Student Resources in Context. When I finished writing my paper, I’d cork it in a digital bottle with my professor’s address on it, and throw it as far as I could into the wine-dark electronic sea. I’m sure it’ll get to my professor eventually — after all, how many degrees of separation can there be?
6a. The Complete Manual of Typography, 2nd ed. (REF Z250.F44 2012).
6b. How To Write (eBook)
I won’t go on to a full ten listings this time, but it might be useful to know where to find a good typographic manual, such as James Felici’s The Complete Manual of Typography, 2nd ed. (REF Z250.F44 2012), and a nice ebook on general writing like Alastair Fowler’s How to Write (you can find links to ebooks in QuickSearch and the Library Catalog). After all, you never know when a copy of Microsoft Office might wash up on the beach at San Serriffe, and both of those books could be a lifesaver as I speed-write my castaway memoirs to have them ready for instant publication once I’m rescued! Ah, I can almost feel a warm tropical breeze riffling through my first draft right now… New York Times Best Seller List and Hollywood, here I come!
By the way, if you’re interested in finding out more about that wonderful island hideaway of San Serriffe, here’s all the travel information you’ll ever need to start planning that idyllic February getaway:
You can find a little more on San Serriffe in The Times [of London] Digital Archives 1785-2007, along with plenty of other articles. Have fun, slather on plenty of that no. 40 sunscreen, and don’t forget to write!