Serials and Electronic Resources librarians have a great tool for evaluation of their aggregate databases in jake. Jake contains descriptions of 162 of the widely subscribed-to databases, search interfaces and free standing electronic services. Specifications such as title lists, number of titles with citations, and number of titles with full text are given for database descriptions. A user can also search jake for a journal title to determine which databases contain that title and whether they offer the full text or only indexing.
jake is hosted at the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library at the Yale University School of Medicine, also home of the oss4lib web site (http://info.med.yale.edu/library/oss4lib/). The developers need to better identify themselves as they deserve wide recognition for their creation. They openly solicit technical help from the programming-inclined and suggestions and feedback from interested users.
As electronic resources become increasingly complex their related metadata become increasingly helpful for selection and evaluation purposes. jake provides quick and efficient means to perform searches across databases and other content delivery resources which can make discerning between the resources much easier. The truly heartwarming aspect of jake is that it is free and freely available for anyone to access or download and customize according to GNU GPL guidelines. (A link to the GNU General Public License home page is given for more information on those guidelines.) A fairly proficient programmer can construct a jake search interface for their own web site with the instructions jake provides. If what you really want is the data to play with in your database application of choice, they offer a data download (currently about 17MB) and a stylesheet download (5K).
The site is extremely plain-vanilla, but the usefulness of the content makes this a non-issue. The search engine allows searching on journal names, database names, abbreviations or issns. Volumes, issues, page numbers or years can be entered to refine the search. A search on "cell" returned 35 matches ranging from Cellular Pharmacology (indexed in 3 databases) to Cell (indexed in 22 databases). By clicking on "complete details" for a given title, the jake id number, type (serial, database, etc), issn, number of databases indexing the title, number and list of databases with full text of the title and their issue lists if available, and links to all of the databases which contain the title are provided. Chances are jake will reflect changes in databases' holdings long before the providers get notice out to the customer libraries given their regular updating.
Under "About jake" the behind the scenes information including the methods of data collection and their philosophy of linking between electronic resources is outlined. The "Objectives" section lists functions of the service already operating as well as those soon to come. Two of these future functions, linking to local information and coverage comparison between resources, will make this already helpful resource indispensable. The "Using jake" section describes the open-access nature of the resource, suggestions for customization and local use and a beta of the database comparison form. There are three mailing lists related to jake, which are described under "Mailing lists".
Not surprisingly, jake operates very smoothly and no dead ends or other glitches were detected by this reviewer, although the downloads were not attempted. This type of service, not creating content but making use of the content it relates to infinitely easier to use, is a great example of how our electronic talents and resources can be applied to ease the transition from print to online that we are all experiencing with varying anxiety.
Central Washington University