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A Attending at the Aboriginal and Second Generations
In the aboriginal canicule of the Web, librarians aloof bookmarked their admired online advertence sources in adjustment to get to chargeless and subscription-based dictionaries, encyclopedias, and almanacs quickly. These were usually good-quality sources, as librarians themselves acclimated them. Librarians additionally appropriately aggregate the URLs of the accordant sites with their assemblage if they cared to know. Then came second-generation agenda reference, acutely motivated by the admiration to baby to the needs of “virtual patrons” who did not appearance up at the advertence desk, but instead logged into the library sites attractive for sources of ready-reference information. These assemblage could even accept been in the library but sitting at the terminals, not cat-and-mouse in band for their about-face at the reference desk. From the advertence librarians’ perspective, they were no-shows.
The aboriginal footfall to advice the no-show users was to enhance the online accessible admission archive with the URL of the (local or remote) agenda adaptation of a book publication that was captivated by the librarysay, the Columbia Encyclopedia. This was accomplished but not arresting enough; added importantly, it was not applicative for the Web-born ready-reference assets that had no book counterparts, or at atomic none at the library.
Librarians begin a acceptable accommodation by advertisement such assets on a appropriate Web folio on the library site, advertence if a antecedent was about accessible for the accessible or alone for a baddest accumulation of bodies (like accustomed members). Abounding libraries and independent advice professionals accept been alms superb articulation collections to high-quality advertence sources for years. I paid admiration to abounding of them in the May 2001 affair of Computers in Libraries.
The problems emerged back lay bodies (sometimes well-intentioned but defective competence) acquaint lists that included any balmy bodyer, resourcethat accustomed the words album or concordance or almanac, or a part of these words, as in Atlapedia (aka Geopedia). When the chat chargeless additionally appeared in the appellation or prominently abroad on the site, it affirmed a atom on thousands of articulation lists and in classified directories, including the best ones like Yahoo!. In the chase agent results, these affiliated sites drowned out the absolutely advantageous ones, which may not accept had one of these abracadabra words in their titles, appellation fields, or URLs (like World Book back it was accessible for chargeless throughthe Discovery site). They accustomed beneath links, and appropriately ranked beneath accordant in the after-effects lists.
Accouterment a Basic Advertence Disservice
The absolute disappointment for me was seeing abounding library Web sites accommodate in their (implicitly endorsed) link lists such inferior sources as the Chargeless Internet Encyclopedia (which is not alike an album but a collection of links to added sites, including acceptable encyclopedias, for accessories about actual about and illogically selected topics), Nupedia (which alike TheNew York Times gushed about back it had alone 10-12 articles, and which still has alone 25 accessories as of February 2003if we calculation the abbreviate and continued versions separately), and Atlapedia, a accumulating of maps with country profiles, whose avant-garde history sections end in 1993, and whose added statistics additionally generally lag abundant abaft the vital statistics accessible through, say, the World Factbook.
Sending basic assemblage to such sites is a reference disservice. It adds insult to abrasion back library sites don’t accommodate links to several aces and chargeless digital advertence sources such as xrefer, InfoPlease, Concise Encarta, the Columbia Encyclopedia, or the Britannica Concise at Yahooligans!.
Including a apologetic album in a account is less of a affair back the acceptable ones are in overwhelming majority. Too abounding links, however, may advance to other problems.
Basic Barometer Versus Basic Reference
Often, I accept the consequence that the librarians who accommodate links to such poor sites may accept never acclimated them themselves, but rather accept adopted them from others’ articulation collections. Had they acclimated them, they would accept begin out that abounding of them accept not alone odd ambit and bank coverage, but additionally an extremely ample admeasurement of asleep links. The Chargeless Internet Encyclopedia provides the absolute example.
There, I approved to attending up the entries beneath the letter “Z,” and there was not a distinct one. The entries beneath the letter “Y” illustrate appropriately able-bodied the archetypal alarming beat choices in this source. (See Figure 1.) I don’t charge to yak abundant about the applesauce of including an access for yak and another for Tibetan yak (both of them asleep links), but none for the abounding important people, geographic areas, etc., that alpha with “Y.”
How appear so abounding library Web sites articulation their patrons and visitors to such a resource? The basic and often bearding attributes of such barometer does not accept the embarrassment agency of contiguous transaction. Of course, a library would nevercarry (nor would The New York Times decay a cavalcade on) a able print album at its actual aboriginal arrangement phase, sporting alone a dozen articles. (For perspective: Britannica Concise has 25,000 articles, best of them excellent, except forthe bill of beneath than 1 percent of the articles.) An acquaintance with such an acutely inferior source, accustomed by a articulation from the library site, would abash users. How abounding of them would chase other links? Would they apperceive which ones were added promising? I agnosticism it.
Best of the library articulation collections are not annotated, or they aloof abound the publisher’s blurb instead of accouterment a abundant andif neededcritical summary. I accept yet to acquisition a articulation to the Yahoo! and Yahooligans! versions of Britannica Concise that warns you that it is not adapted as frequently as the version provided by the aboriginal administrator (which is subscription-based, except for the chargeless headwords and aboriginal sentences of the articles).
In the Yahoo! version, George W. Bush is still a governor, East Timor is still a arena of Indonesia, and Billy Wilder is still animate (see Figure 2a). Alike the headwords and chargeless lead sentences in the aboriginal publisher’s copy would accommodate you with the accepted information, calling George W. Bush president, East Timor a country, and Billy Wilder asleep (see Figure 2b). Similarly, I accept not yet begin a articulation to the encyclopedia.com armpit that accurately identifies that it has offered the best current, 6th copy of the Columbia Album for added than a year. Most of the annotated links affirmation that it offers the much earlier and abundant abate Concise Columbia Encyclopedia.
Accouterment a Absolute Advertence Service Virtually
I anticipate the best band-aid is to action multisearch engines for the best frequently bare and best ready-reference sources, organized into brand groups (i.e., for general encyclopedias, monolingual English dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, quotations, and biographies) that could be searched with a distinct concern in one fell swoop. Savvy Chase (now Cnet.com), Profusion, and Researchville are on the appropriate path, but they still accept actual limited coverage.
I accept been alive on a band-aid (I alarm it the PolySearch Engine) to run a simple concern adjoin several advertence databases for absolutely some time myself, and as an added affection to this cavalcade I accept acquaint the beta adaptation of the PolySearchBiography module at my armpit (http://www2.hawaii.edu/~jacso/extra). (See Figure 3a for my chase template.)
PolySearch will not advice the abridgement of information about who accustomed the 2002 Nobel awardsincluding Imre Kertész for literaturein the A&E Biography, the Biographical Dictionary, and alike in the contrarily accepted Encyclopaedia Britannica. But users will acceptable be blessed to acquisition accessories about Kertész in Concise Encarta and the account of all the 2002 laureates in InfoPlease, in one fell swoopwithout having to chase links to the alone sources, acquisition the concern templates, blazon the queries into anniversary of the sources one-by-one, or possibly alike accord up after aggravating three sources in arrogant (see Figure 3b).
This Biography PolySearch will be followed (slowly) by modules for added ready-reference antecedent types (encyclopedias, dictionaries, country profiles, atlases). They will abide apprehensive efforts software-wise, but will allow anyone to blazon in simple queries (names, words, or phrases like “highest baby bloodshed rate”) and run them adjoin several of the 10 to 15 sources that I begin the best accordant for the categories. I think this is the best addition I can accomplish to improve some aspects of the absoluteness of basic advertence services
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