Internet Subject Guides in Academic Libraries: An Analysis of Contents, Practices, and Opinions

By Jackson, Rebecca; Pellack, Lorraine J. | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

Internet Subject Guides in Academic Libraries: An Analysis of Contents, Practices, and Opinions


Jackson, Rebecca, Pellack, Lorraine J., Reference & User Services Quarterly


This article describes a research project to determine the uniqueness of Internet subject guides among Association of Research Libraries academic libraries. The authors examined guides in four subject areas (philosophy, journalism/communication, astronomy, and chemistry) at the Web sites of 112 libraries, collecting data on the number of links per guide, the arrangement of resources, the information included about the resources, the kinds of resources included, and the number of nonworking links. As a result of the examination of these guides, a number of questions emerged, which led to the creating of a survey mailed to the heads of reference services in each of the libraries. The authors discuss the results of their examinations and of the survey and make recommendations for further research.

**********

Go to just about any academic library Web site and you will usually find a collection of electronic research guides for subjects represented in the parent institution's curriculum. Librarians have reinvented this particular wheel over and over again, creating specialized guides for their users when guides already exist for the same subject areas on many other library Web sites. In addition, a plethora of Internet resource guides are available from a wide variety of other authoritative sources. They appear regularly in College & Research Libraries News, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, and Journal of Library Administration. As early as 1995, Louis Rosenfeld, founder of the Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides at the University of Michigan, edited a monographic series covering the areas of health and science, humanities, social sciences, business, and law. (1) There are also numerous Web sites devoted to the "best of the Web" in given subject areas. Notable examples include Digital Librarian: A Librarian's Choice of the Best of the Web and Chemistry 2000: Two Thousand of the Best Chemistry Sites. (2)

There are Web resources for professionals and Web resources for the general public. Specialized subject areas are typically represented by at least one meta site, and often there are three to four meta sites from which to choose (see guides by Huber, Kraus, and Banholzer). (3) With all these options available, it is difficult to understand why so many individual libraries maintain Web resource guides for their patrons.

In their research on Internet subject guides, Morris and Grimes quote one librarian who probably speaks for many in justifying the creation of these guides at each institution: "Our Web pages tend to be local in focus, promoting good materials in our library." (4) Librarians are not only trying to create some order out of the chaos of the Internet, but they profess to creating unique guides specific to their particular users and their needs. As department heads who supervise faculty librarians involved in creating and updating these guides, the authors, concerned about the major time commitments involved, decided to find out just how unique these guides really are. In the process of answering this question, they learned much more about the production of and access to these resources.

Literature Review

A search of the library literature turns up no research on the uniqueness of Internet subject guides, and only a handful of articles that focus on electronic resource guides in general. For example, Kapoun does an excellent job of describing traditional print pathfinders, providing guidelines for their construction and recommending a set of "universal pathfinder format guidelines." He stops short of recommendations for electronic pathfinders. (5)

A similar article by Morville and Wickhorst takes librarians step by step through the process of identifying relevant sites for electronic guides, reviewing them for inclusion, creating a description for each site, selecting an organizational scheme, and designing and formatting the guide; they then outline publicity, feedback, and maintenance issues. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Internet Subject Guides in Academic Libraries: An Analysis of Contents, Practices, and Opinions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.