Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians

#15, June 25, 1999. Published every Friday.



June 25: anagrams, career assessment, thrillers, web accessibility guidelines, and more.

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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.

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Archive of Previous Issues

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Part 2: What's the Best Search Engine?
Part 1: Clever Government Tricks

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My Favorite Sites on___:

Making Government Work Better
Hot Paper Topics

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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

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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, the 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: RE:SEARCHING and Favorite Sites on _____. I'll pay you the same rate I pay me: nothing.

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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.

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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 netexpress.net

Visit My Other Sites

My Word's Worth

a weekly column on books, words, libraries, American culture, and whatever happens to interest me. For the subject index, click HERE.

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My page on all things book-related.

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Best Information on the Net

Still my favorite pit stop on the information Highway. This is a mirror of the real site, which has moved to http://www.sau.edu/bestinfo/.

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My personal page

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My resume

or, why you might want to hire me to speak at internet or library workshops or conferences, or have me consult on building your library page.


by Amer Neely ()
Certified Internet Webmaster Designer
Softouch Information Services: http://www.softouch.on.ca/
Research Central: http://www.softouch.on.ca/rc/

1) When you think you have a page or set of pages ready for the world, have it checked by a number of other people, both experienced and inexperienced. Make sure they are viewing your pages over a live Internet connection, preferably a dial-up account. Try to get a mix of browsers to view your pages.

2) A good way to test how heavy a page is is to copy all the HTML files and images to a floppy disk, maintaining the same relative paths etc., and point your browser at it. This is roughly equivalent to a dialup connection of 28.8.

3) You are looking for some real critical feedback, not a pat on the back. What you want to know is whether the page/s take too long to download (if it's graphic-intensive); whether the navigation works (internal links are to the correct pages); whether the site makes sense as a whole (what's the point of the site); whether text is legible. How many sites have you been to where the color of the text is too close to the background color, or the background is too "busy" and the text gets lost?

4) Spell-check, spell-check, and spell-check. Grammar and readable language is crucial to building a sense of credibility.

5) If the page offers a directory of images, thumbnails of each one, with the size of each file noted, gives the user the option of clicking to see the full-size. If you can design your pages so that the first page is mostly text, with a link to a second image-intensive page, a trick is to load the images for the second page at the bottom of the first page, only with a pixel size of 1x1. They will not be visible on the first page if done right, but will be cached in the browser's memory. Users can read the text while the images are downloading. When they do go to the next page, the images are already cached and load like lightning.

6) Images are likely the most problematic for people, since most don't have the knowledge to be able to reduce the file size of the image as much as possible and still have it render as best as possible. This is a fine balancing act. Best advice is to read and educate yourself as much as possible about image manipulation and what tools your editing software has to help you reduce the file size of the image.

7) Don't use 17 different fonts, just because they look cool. A couple of easy-to-read font faces, used with various sizes, formatting, etc. will get your message across quicker and easier. And please, don't use the BLINK command.

8) If your site isn't completely ready, don't mount it. Nothing is worse than going to a site, only to find an "Under Construction" message. People will almost never go back.

9) Don't use the heading tags H1, H2 etc. to size your text. That's what font size= ... is for. Heading tags should only be used for ... headings! Reason being that other user agents besides browsers crawl over your web pages (robots, worms, ants, etc.) to produce outlines of your page. They use the heading tags to produce these outlines. If you arbitrarily use them to size your text, what kind of outline do you think would be produced?

10) Don't rely on HTML authoring tools to build your pages. Bite the bullet and learn to hand-code HTML, at least to be able to throw together a page with a table or perhaps some frames in it. Learn the proper structure of building tables; the various types of lists; how to place images; how to make links. Authoring tools are handy for quickly putting together a prototype, but you will have greater control and satisfaction by rolling your own pages.

Copyright 1999 Amer Neely


This is one I want you to help me write. If you became the head of a library school, before you even got around to deciding what courses to offer, you would have to answer this question: What do librarians today need to know, and what do they need to be able to do in their day-to-day work? E-mail me at: marylaine at netexpress.net.


This is a continuation from last week of the favorite sites of the Highland Internet Interest Group. If you had to choose, as they did, just one favorite site -- a content site, not an index -- what would you choose?

Learn2.com - The ability utility
This site attempts to connect you with a tutorial for everything under the sun. Learn how to "Fry an Egg," "Tie a Necktie," and more. There's a whole lot here and while none of it is very complex, it is fun.

Lyrics World
Look up lyrics by either song title or artist.

MiningCo.com (now About.com)
This is where the "guides are real people." If you haven't been there yet this would be a good time to check it out. It really is pretty good.

The New York Times Learning Network
http://www.nytimes.com/learning/ With "Connections" for students, teachers, and parents, this site offers news and ideas regarding history and current events. [Requires registration.]

Enter a list of words and this web site will use them to build a puzzle. Choose to have your words built into a maze, word search, criss-cross puzzle, cryptogram, or one of the other puzzle-forms.

RCSI: Library - electronic journals - full text
"Free full-text journals on the web - a small selection." RCSI stands for Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. The selection may be small, but it is free and it is full-text. You may want to take a look at it.

Rent Net - Career Center
http://www.rent.net/ctg/cgi-bin/RentNet/ CareerCenter/AAAAfNAAXAAAKA4AAY?LinkRef=CareerCenter
This site leads you to Net-Temps, Monster.com and CareerBuilder. The Salary Calculator at CareerBuilder was specifically recommended.

SIRS Web Guide: Just for Kids
Lots of links.

Student Newspapers - cpnet.com
This looks like a good source for alumni or prospective students of the schools that are listed.

TOUCANSAM's Encyclopedia of the Rain Forest
This site would appear to be geared for young people, but don't sell it short. And don't scroll past the Uranus Moth too quickly.

This site attempts to be more up-to-date than other indexes (like Medline) can be. It currently tracks 22 medical journals, scaning the web each night for updates. Some articles are full text, others just have abstracts. "Articles older than about 6 weeks should be indexed by Medline and other bibliographic databases and so are not indexed by WebMedLit."

You are welcome to copy and distribute or e-mail any of my own articles (but not those by my guest writers) as long as you credit Ex Libris and give its URL.