INFOMINE - a Model Web-Based Academic Virtual Library

Article excerpt

INFOMINE is a World Wide Web virtual library which provides indexing, annotations and links to Internet resources of scholarly use to the academic community. Thousands of Internet resources covering most major disciplines are present. A custom HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language, the language used to create Web documents) converter and database manager allow librarians with subject expertise but no HTML experience (or those with HTML knowledge but no time to maintain several HTML indexes) to contribute to and maintain INFOMINE in a time-efficient manner. INFOMINE was developed by the Library of the University of California, Riverside.

* Introduction and History

INFOMINE is a unique Web resource featuring well organized access to a substantial number of important research and educational tools on the Internet. INFOMINE is notable for its collection of close to five thousand annotated and indexed records with links to selected, university-level resources in most major academic disciplines. Information in INFOMINE is easy to find given the multiplicity of access points provided. It has received, on average, over twenty thousand accesses per week during the last fifteen months. In addition, INFOMINE provides simple and streamlined capabilities for adding resources (e.g., knowledge of HTML is not required) as well as essential maintenance functions (e.g., a URL Checker ensures that links are good). This article discusses INFOMINE as both a large Internet resource collection, commonly known as a "virtual" or "digital" library, and the custom hypertext database management system, with HTML converter, that has made the collection easy to build, maintain and use. INFOMINE (figure 1) can be accessed at http://lib-www.ucr.edu.

INFOMINE began over two years ago and was developed by the Library of the University of California, Riverside. It was one of the first Web-based, academic virtual libraries, as well as one of the first to develop a system combining the advantages of the hypertext and multimedia capabilities of the Web with the organizational and retrieval functions of a database manager.

Most of its important features and services, described in-depth below, remain unique among Internet resource collections.

* INFOMINE in Depth

The INFOMINE Collection

INFOMINE contains close to five thousand records. Among these are substantive databases, guides to the Internet and other electronic resources for most disciplines, textbooks, conference proceedings, and journals. The life sciences INFOMINE alone provides interactive access to nearly three hundred databases.

Separate virtual collections or INFOMINEs exist in most major areas of university-level research and educational interests. These include collections in: (a) Biological, Agricultural and Medical Resources; (b) Government Information Resources; (c) Social Sciences and Humanities (included here as well are General Reference, Business, Education, and Library/Information Studies related resources); (d) Physical Sciences, Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics; (e) Internet Enabling Tools (e.g., help, tutorials, navigators of assistance in Internet usage); (f) Maps and Geographic Information Systems; (g) Visual and Performing Arts; and, (h) Instructional Resources (in all disciplines) on the Internet. These are listed in order of comprehensiveness. The first two collections contain fifteen hundred and thirteen hundred resources respectively. The others are strong and compare favorably with collections at other large university systems surveyed. All files are growing rapidly, reflecting the growth of the Internet, and represent well-organized collections of selected, high-quality resources.

The INFOMINE System

INFOMINE for Users

Among the contributions of INFOMINE is the essential enrichment or "value added" service, as mentioned, of providing annotations as well as in-depth indexing terminology for each record. …