Roxanne Backowski, MLIS
Assistant Professor, Head of Electronic Resources and Acquisitions
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Human Kinetics Library is a collection of over 150 ebooks and over 200 videos on sports and physical activity content. Available via Bloomsbury Digital Resources’ platform, all titles are from the independent publisher, Human Kinetics. In November 2020, dance content was released adding access to over 500 videos, 850 audio clips, seven additional ebooks, and over 125 images.
The content for Human Kinetics Library is broken into three major categories, with topics surrounding physical activity and specific sports and activities, including dance. It is primarily aimed at students, instructors, and researchers in kinesiology, exercise science, exercise physiology, dance and theater, and outdoor recreation. The content related to dance covers ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern, tap, Mexican folkloric, musical theater dance, and choreography. Human Kinetics Library also has coverage on psychology and sociology of sport and exercise, disability in sports, active aging, athletic training, and coaching. It is notable that textbooks are included, which is a major strength of the product. Sports content mostly centers on popular teams’ sports such as football, basketball, and baseball, and others such as cycling, running, outdoor recreation, and weightlifting. Users may be disappointed in the lack of coverage on emerging sports and activities such as pickleball or mixed martial arts.
The content in Human Kinetics Library is updated once a year. Except for a few outliers, publication dates of current ebooks range from 2005 to 2020, with the average publication date around 2011. Creation dates for videos vary between 2009 and 2015. Videos are typically 30 seconds to two minutes, though some exceed these durations. Videos either show the proper protocol for exercise movements like a depth jump, explain an assessment such as a squat jump test, or demonstrate sport movements like shooting a basketball. Dance video content demonstrates a dance move and explains proper form and technique, while audio clips are a narrative explanation, not music. Given the ubiquity of and desire for streaming video content, which academic libraries are experiencing especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount of video in Human Kinetics Library is surprisingly low. Additional video content on physical activity and sports would make this product stronger.
The overall design of Human Kinetics Library is clean and navigating the website is straightforward, which are commendable aspects of the product. Nearly all the site’s functionality is navigable with a keyboard. The Human Kinetics Library website has responsive design and is optimized for use on desktop and mobile devices; no separate app is necessary for a phone or tablet user.
Human Kinetics Library has robust opportunities in place for browsing. Users can browse by book or video content, or by topic and sport/activity with a taxonomy tailored to the specific subject areas covered in the full library. A featured topic and sport highlights certain content in the collection. A basic search with suggestive keywords and Boolean searching enabled is available. There is also a simple advanced search option to limit by author or publication date. When a search is executed, the retrieval system searches the full text of all content for keyword matches. Search results are presented by relevance by default; additional search result sorting options are title and date.
The content on Human Kinetics Library is presented in English and DRM free with no limit on the number of simultaneous users. The text of ebooks is presented in HTML so users can resize or read with assistive technology. The table of contents is hyperlinked to jump to sections. Videos have closed captions and transcripts, but the functionality to slow down or speed up viewing, which could be useful to see movements in slow motion or for accessibility reasons, is not available. Bloomsbury Digital Resources has the goal of compliance with Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1; more information about future improvements and updates can be read at https://www.humankineticslibrary.com/accessibility.
For all content types, users can share materials via social media, email, and print. Downloading content is possible, but the process is not immediately apparent. Individual personal accounts can be set up with social media logins, an email and password, or a current account for other Bloomsbury platforms. Functionality for user accounts include the ability to save and organize content items in folders, manage search alerts, and set up saved searches. Citations can be automatically generated to copy and paste. Three citation styles are presented – MLA, APA, or Chicago – though it is not obvious what edition of each is being used. Currently, Human Kinetics Library is not set up to integrate with learning management systems via Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). And while chapter and book level DOIs can be used with some difficulty to navigate back to content, the interface lacks the ability to effortlessly generate permalinks, which is crucial for sharing content with students via a learning management system.
Librarians will revel in the amount of information easily accessible on the Human Kinetics Library website for managing their subscription.
For universities and colleges, Bloomsbury offers both subscription and perpetual purposes with pricing based on institutional student FTE. Interested subscribers can inquire about multi-year pricing. Public libraries, schools, and corporations are also potential customers. Currently, individual subscriptions are not available.
Supported authentication methods for Human Kinetics Library are IP authentication and proxy server, Shibboleth, and a username and password model. Options for administrators include downloading COUNTER 4 and 5 reports and SUSHI service, editing OpenURL resolver details, and adding an institutional logo. KBART and MARC records, which are RDA compliant, are provided on the Human Kinetics Library website each time content is updated for painless downloading.
Bloomsbury’s digital platform is user friendly, strives for accessibility, and has most of the expected functionality and services. The recent addition of dance content complements the visual nature of the product and is more inclusive. Overall, acquiring Human Kinetics Library would benefit undergraduate institutions with a kinesiology or exercise science program, especially those looking for textbooks, visual content, or access to the entire Human Kinetics catalog.