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Nuclear Digital Library “Mushrooms” Globally

For all things nuclear visit http://alsos.wlu.edu.

It is the Web site for the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues, which received 172,000 visits from 163 countries (38% of the total visits) accessing 500,000 pages during the past year, according to the latest reports from Google Analytics and local server data.

“The figures show not only the global use of the library but the diverse topics accessed,” says Frank A. Settle, visiting chemistry professor at Washington and Lee University and leader of the project.

Alsos currently contains indexed annotations on over 2,700 books, articles, films, CDs and online resources on a variety of nuclear topics. It includes not only hot button issues such as nuclear proliferation, nuclear waste and terrorism, but nuclear topics in 25 disciplines including medicine, science, literature, economics, art and music. Visitors to the site can also locate the nearest library where the publication is stocked, or download it if available online.

Over 40 W&L students have been involved with Alsos, half as computer software developers and half as content specialists. Thomas Whaley, professor of computer science at W&L, has directed the development of the software. Other students have worked on content under the direction of Elizabeth Blackmer, editorial consultant, and Judy Strang, writing consultant at the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. “The summer experience of working as a team to develop software and content has provided these students valuable experiences in information technology as well as increasing their knowledge of nuclear issues,” says Settle.

All annotations are reviewed by an appropriate member of the distinguished national advisory board before they are placed on the Alsos site. The 27-member board includes 14 top academics as well as representatives from the Council on Foreign Relations, Los Alamos National Laboratory, U.S. Army, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Smithsonian, American Institute of Physics, George C. Marshall Foundation, Global Security and the Pacific Northwest Laboratory.

The Alsos Library is recommended by the National Science Teachers Association and is referenced by more than 600 complementary Web sites worldwide, such as libraries, colleges, schools and research institutes, along with normal search engines and Wikipedia.

The Library was initiated at W&L by Settle in 2000 with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is a component of the NSF’s National Science Digital Library (http://nsdl.org). It is currently funded by a grant from H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest.

Alsos takes its name from the U.S. Army mission to assess German progress on the atomic bomb during WWII.