Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians

#116, September 28, 2001

* * * * * * * * *

Guru Interviews

  1. Tara Calishain
  2. Jenny Levine, part I
  3. Jenny Levine, Part II
  4. Reva Basch
  5. Sue Feldman
  6. Jessamyn West
  7. Debbie Abilock
  8. Kathy Schrock
  9. Greg Notess
  10. William Hann
  11. Chris Sherman
  12. Gary Price
  13. Barbara Quint
  14. Rory Litwin
  15. John Guscott

* * * * * * * * *

Wanna See Your Name in Lights?

Or at least on this page, anyway? I'd like to print here your contributions as well as mine. As you've noticed, articles are brief, somewhere between 200 and 500 words -- something to jog people's minds and get their own good ideas flowing. I'd also be happy to run other people's contributions to the regular features like Favorite Sites on _____. I'll pay you the same rate I pay me: nothing.

* * * * * * * * *

E-Mail Subscription?

To subscribe to a combined subscription to Neat New Stuff and ExLibris, please click HERE, complete the form, and click on "subscribe." To unsubscribe, use the same form but click on "unsubscribe." To change addresses for an existing subscription, unsubscribe from that form and then return to the page to enter the new address.
PRIVACY POLICY: I don't collect or reveal information about subscribers.

* * * * *

Cool Quotes

The collected quotes are at

* * * * *

Drop me a Line

Want to comment, ask questions, submit articles, or invite me to speak or do some training? Contact me at: marylaine at

* * * * * * * * *

When and How To Search the Net

Visit My Other Sites

My page on all things book-related. NEW STUFF ADDED in August

* * *

Best Information on the Net
The directory I built for O'Keefe Library, St. Ambrose University, still my favorite pit stop on the information highway.

* * *

My Word's Worth
a weekly column on books, words, libraries, American culture, and whatever happens to interest me.

Subject Index to My Word's Worth at

* * *

My personal page

* * *

SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

* * * * * * * * *

Neat New Stuff I Found This Week
September 28: deaf history, religious texts, World Trade Center rumors, and more.

* * * * * * * * *

My resume
Or why you might want to hire me for speaking engagements or workshops. To see outlines for presentations I've done, click on Handouts

* * * * * * * * *

What IS Ex Libris?

The purpose and intended scope of this e-zine -- always keeping in mind that in response to readers, I may add, subtract, and change features.

* * * * * * * * *

Highlights from Previous Issues:

My Rules of Information

  1. Go where it is
  2. The answer depends on the question
  3. Research is a multi-stage process
  4. Ask a Librarian
  5. Information is meaningless until queried by human intelligence
  6. Information can be true and still wrong


Chris Sherman and Gary Price. The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See. CyberAge books, Information Today. 0-910965-51-X. $29.95. Accompanying web site: Reviewed by Marylaine Block

In a sense, there's almost no need to review this book -- if ever there was a book that sold itself on the basis of the authors' reputation, this is it. It seems like every other week on NeatNew I'm pointing out yet another invaluable guide Gary Price has put together (the most recent one being original documents and transcriptions related to the terrorist attacks). And Chris Sherman, as search guide for, was known for his lucid lessons on improving your search technique; now many of us are getting daily tips from his Search Day column ( ).

But I'm here to tell you that this book surpasses these elevated expectations, mainly because it does what books do best: it provides history, context, and lengthy explanations of the whys and wherefores. It provides annotated descriptions of invisible web sites and databases as well, but most importantly it takes the bits and pieces of advice both men have offered in many columns, articles, and speeches and integrates them into one seamless package.

The authors explain how search engines work and why they fail to find answers available on the Invisible Web. They even point out what we know and our students do not: some answers are not on the web at all, or likely ever to be; bless their hearts, they even tell readers that sometimes the only way to get their answers is in a good library, aided by a good librarian.

They teach readers the advantages and drawbacks of both general and focused search engines, directories, and other search tools. They explain how to recognize when you might need an invisible web site, and ways of finding an appropriate one.

The authors are gifted explainers who never lapse into unintelligible technical jargon even when explaining the technical underpinnings of search systems, which means this their book is just as accessible to casual users as to information professionals; anyone teaching courses in internet searching or information literacy should consider using it as a text.

Throughout the book, the authors make all their points concrete, illustrating them with real life search problems. After they've outlined all the basic concepts, they also offer seven case studies of research problems, seven of them answered on the invisible web. Significantly, the eighth is not, because the authors want to reinforce the point that some kinds of information simply do not exist on the web.

After a discussion of what they think the future of search engine technology might hold, they proceed to chapters on invisible web resources in specific subject areas. This is where the book's web site will come in handy, because as we all know, the web is a fickle place and web addresses often change. For each web site they've chosen, they explain what kinds of content can be found on it and what related web resources are available.

In case you didn't guess, I'm suggesting you buy the book and read it. Even if you're already a proficient searcher, I guarantee you'll be moreso by the time you finish.

* * * * *


There are many ways to approach the needle in the haystack problem:

A known needle in a known haystack
A known needle in an unknown haystack
An unknown needle in an unknown haystack
Any needle in a haystack
The sharpest needle in a haystack
Most of the sharpest needles in a haystack
All the needles in a haystack

Affirmation of no needles in a haystack
Things like needles in any haystack
Let me know whenever a new needle shows up
Where are the haystacks?
Needles, haystacks -- whatever

Matthew Koll. "Major Trends and Issues in the Information Industry."

* * * * *

You are welcome to copy and distribute or e-mail any of my own articles for noncommercial purposes (but not those by my guest writers) as long as you retain this copyright statement:

Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2001.

[Publishers may license the content for a reasonable fee.]