Magazine article Information Today

Librarians on the Internet: Impact on Reference Services

Magazine article Information Today

Librarians on the Internet: Impact on Reference Services

Article excerpt

Librarians on the Internet: Impact on Reference Services

Edited by Robin Kinder

The Haworth Press, Inc.

410 pages $49.95

ISBN 1-56024-672-3

Librarians on the Internet: Impact on Reference Services contains a collection of loosely organized 10-20 page articles describing the uses of the Internet by academic reference librarians. Editor Robin Kinder collected material for this volume by posting a 1993 call-for-papers to discussion groups read by reference librarians. The result is a collection of articles suitable for a reference librarians' discussion group. Some of the academic issues included have application beyond the college and university venue (e.g., Silva & Cartwright's discussions of the role of the campus librarian as an access engineer or Seiden & Nuckolls' summary descriptions of different types of campus and departmental information links). Other pieces such as Joseph Natale's digest of a college reference service's experience in collecting and disseminating 1992 campaign material in electronic formats reflect narrower uses and concerns. As stated in the preface, the contents "are not representative articles on the Internet" so readers who are interested in technological and historical aspects of reference services and networks should seek elsewhere. What is included are articles on searching over the Internet, developing and delivering bibliographic instruction courses, the politics of interacting with or running a campus-wide information system, and other topics of interest to reference providers.

The librarians' newsgroup model structures this collection of writings. Organization is loose and the editorial hand is light or entirely absent. Lists and information are repeated throughout the contents. No single appendix or glossary is included for readers to use as quick look-up tools. Kinder has structured the articles into sections that introduce Internet reference services and sources and discuss their use, but does not include any editorial introduction to each section to summarize contents and provide a rationale for including or excluding contents. The result is quite similar to a list of newsgroup articles. Titles may be faulty indicators of section and article contents. Article texts embed commands, menus, addresses, and other types of data so that readers will need to keep track of useful sections with bookmarks or some other method as they read along.

The overall effect of this collection is similar to reading a reference librarians' newsgroup where messages extend to 10 or more pages. There is advice: Authors recommend information sites, sources, and materials for science and government information. There is repetition: Jackie Mardikian's contribution on using VERONICA to find information on the Internet follows Louise McGillis' article on gopher searching using VERONICA. There is irrelevant data: Judge for yourself whether black and white illustrations of menus and screens of text have any useful information to convey. There is trivia: Schemes for linking anything and everything to or through a library reference service abound and the utility or interest of these ideas outside their local environments is questionable. There are omissions: The contributors largely ignore the impact on reference services when clients and information provider connect without intermediaries. …

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