Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Building a Core Internet Reference Collection

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Building a Core Internet Reference Collection

Article excerpt

You have decided to collect and organize an Internet Reference Collection. Will you publish it on a Web page or Web site? Will the Web page(s) be published on a Web server or stored on diskette for local use only? Are you going to provide a printed list of core Internet reference sources for your colleagues and library clients to use? Regardless of how the collection will be made available to others, collection of Internet information resources requires many of the same strategies and selection criteria as other information resource formats.

This article explores the basics of Internet reference collection development planning and selection strategies. A checklist for developing an Internet reference collection plan and for the most direct selection strategies appears below and summarizes the issues involved (see table 1). This checklist doesn't address the option of using an open Web search engine or serendipitous site locations and doing your own evaluation of each individual site. Rather, the selection strategies recommended here are to use the developing announcement, evaluation, and review services--formal and informal--that have emerged on the Internet and in our traditional print sources of reviews.

Table 1

Checklist for Building a Core Internet Reference Collection

1. Decide what kind of reference materials your library's clients need.

2. Look at your current collection of reference materials and use them as an additional guide for selecting similar, analogous, or the alternative Internet version of resources in your current collection.

3. Use other Web-based e-library reference collections to choose key Internet reference sources.

4. Use discussion lists, newsgroups, and e-serials that announce, evaluate, or review Internet reference tools.

5. Use print or other electronic publications that announce, evaluate, or review Internet reference tools.

6. Select from the Internet reference tools announced, evaluated, or reviewed in the resources described in points 3-5. Use the criteria provided by responding to points 1 and 2.

In "Hunting and Gathering in Cyberspace," Rioux provided an amusing analogy for the collection and selection process for Internet resources:

   Over the centuries librarians have pretty much gotten a handle on building
   collections of resources in the physical media like print and film. There
   are review journals, the publishing industry is well-organized, and
   subscription agents are always happy to help keep things neat and tidy.
   It's a little like agriculture, where the farmer/librarian goes into a
   well-tended field to harvest a crop of known type and quality. Developing a
   collection of Internet (especially World Wide Web) resources is another
   situation altogether. It's much more like foraging in the jungle; a
   trackless, vine-tangled wilderness full of unknown species, some of which
   look appetizing but could be poisonous and others that look drab and
   unappealing but might well be the most nourishing. The librarian collecting
   electronic resources is not a harvester of cultivated crops but a hunter
   and gatherer of wild fruits and other treasures.(1)

The checklist in table 1 attempts to make the collection and selection strategies for Internet resources as "agricultural" as possible given the review sources that are available. In-depth discussion of each checklist item follows.

Determine Client Needs

Decide what kind of reference materials your library's clients need. The exact contents of any reference collection will vary from library to library, but the purpose of such a collection is always the same. The reference collection is used by librarians and library clients to find quick and easy answers to simple, fact-based questions on a variety of subjects. The subject coverage of these reference tools must be determined by the library client's needs. …

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