Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians

#75, October 20, 2000.


* * * * * * * * *

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

* * * * * * * * *

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.

* * * * *

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

* * * * * * * * *

Talk Back

Where I will post any comments you want to make public. E-mail me and use the words "talk back" in your subject line.

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
October 20: genealogy, Norman Rockwell, robots, and more.

* * * * * * * * *

My resume
Or why you might want to hire me for speaking engagements or workshops.

* * * * * * * * *

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


When I'm doing training on internet searching, the first thing I always tell people is to figure out what users want to end up with. If they want answers to questions, don't give them a a set of pages that MIGHT have an answer, search through reference sources or faq files to find an answer that satisfies them. If they want to see a variety of good resources on a particular topic or discipline, go to an excellent directory like Scout Report Signpost ( or Librarians' Index to the Internet ( and see what sites they recommend.

But sometimes what people are looking for is a home on the net, a site that not only gives expert guidance to the good resources on a topic they care about, but also provides a community, a place to talk with other people who care about it just as much, a place where experts will answer users' questions, a place where new information is always being served.

After all, many of us have our private obsessions that absolutely nobody around us cares about at all. If we start talking in public about these passions -- the Klingon language, say, or the subtexts of romance novels, or building our own rockets (or in my case, the subject of my master's thesis, the agnostic orator Robert G. Ingersoll) -- people may even think we're a little nutty. We have learned to hide our interests, and indulge them privately. But we'd really like to find more people like us.

A good starting place for people like us is /, which began life as The Mining Company. It doesn't cover every topic -- it couldn't afford to -- but for 700 major topics, it provides human guides who find and organize the kinds of web content that matter most to people who care about them. Nor are these guide sites static. The expert guides create original content, writing weekly articles about the topic, which are then archived, adding to the wealth of information. Currently, offers information on more than 50,000 topics, with links to over a million sites.

Take a look at the page on mountain biking, for instance. There's a guide for beginners, info on accessories, bike and component manufacturers, nutrition, personal sites and professional sites, races, tours and events, recommended trails, and more. Look farther. There's a set of related topical guides that you might want to click on. There's a Bikers Board, where you can post questions, The Chain Chat, a forum that is open 24 hours a day, and a set of Helpful How-To's.

This week's feature articles include "Bike Shopping on a Budget" and a discussion of whether to buy a cycling computer. The extensive archive of articles includes advice on what to take along on a ride, and how to get adequate hydration, choose the best bike for the best price, choose a helmet, and do your own tune-up. What's more, you can have each week's articles e-mailed to you.

If you don't care about mountain biking, try something you do care about -- children's literature, say, or librarianship or quilting or cartooning or Christian music or model railroading.

By all means, try Chris Sherman's guide to searching the web (, and subscribe to his weekly newsletter. I think I'm pretty good at web searching, but I learn something from every article Chris writes.

[You will notice, when you visit that there is an affiliate program, whereby people like me could register and get two cents for every clickthrough from our links. Though it would be nice to have the money, I have chosen not to do that because in my book that would compromise my reputation as an honest broker by giving me a stake in steering you to the sites I recommend.]

And incidentally, if you enjoy Chris Sherman's community of Web Search, you should also look into Free Pint, which provides many of the same kinds of features. There are articles on searching, "My Favorite Tipples" (favorite websites submitted by readers), book reviews, an archive of past issues, and the Free Pint Bar (and the Student Bar) where you can figuratively pull up a chair, have a pint, and sit around and chat and ask questions.

Bringing likeminded people together, and providing this sort of home for them, is one of the most valuable services the net performs. When you sense that that's what your patron really wants, is a splendid place to start looking.

* * * * * * * * *


Home, in one form or another, is the great object of life.

Josiah Gilbert Holland. "Home." Gold-Foil Hammered from Popular Proverbs.

* * * * * * * * *

Note: I'm leaving it at that for this week. I just finished a rough draft of the entire manuscript for my collection of the wit and wisdom of Barbara Quint, and I'm good and tired of staring at the computer. I'll offer something more substantial next week.

* * * * * * * * *

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, 2000.