Magazine article Information Today

Do You Need an Information Gateway?

Magazine article Information Today

Do You Need an Information Gateway?

Article excerpt

Do You Need an Information Gateway? Portals and Libraries edited by Sarah C. Michalak New York: Haworth Press, 2005 Published simultaneously as the Journal of Library Administration, Volume 43, Numbers 1 and 2 ISBN: 0-7890-2932-4 228 pages $29.95 softcover

We have all heard about Internet portals. If you're like me, you probably have a general idea about what portals are and the services they provide. But if you don't use a portal every day or show library users how one works, you may not be familiar with all the possibilities. A number of initiatives have studied and created portals for libraries, and there are several commercial products available. As an overview of just a few projects, Sarah Michalak has collected 12 articles about current library portals in Portals and Libraries.

Michalak, who has firsthand experience with portals, was director of the Marriott Library at the University of Utah during the Association of Research Libraries' (ARL) portal pilot project. Today, she is university librarian and associate provost for university libraries at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

She has also been involved in a variety of consortium projects, while providing leadership in library groups, including the Triangle Research Libraries Network and the Greater Western Library Alliance. In her introduction to Portals and Libraries, she describes her experience with ARL's Scholars Portal Project, a 3-year commitment to work with six other ARL libraries to customize a research library portal.

A lot of work and financial commitment was involved in this great idea. This group reviewed previous portal projects and decided to proceed, using a commercially available portal product to build their own customized portal. Michalak's book presents views from information professionals on the history, development, current state, and future needs of portals. I have selected just a few to review in more detail.

For example, Susanna Davidsen of the University of Michigan reviews the history of her institution as well as the Internet Public Library (IPL) and several other Web portals. The IPL (, which was created as a class project in 1995, has been run by the University of Michigan's School of Information ever since, providing both training for future professionals and services to the public.

As a pioneer, IPL has experienced many generations of Internet presence. Davidsen compares it to other successful and popular portals, including Yahoo!, InfoMine, and the Librarian's Index to the Internet. However, funding problems often arise when these resources receive public support. Davidsen suggests that national or international efforts to create public information portals could help alleviate this.

In another example, Carolyn Brown of the Library of Congress discusses the creation of Portals to the World (http://www . …

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