Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians

#9, May 7, 1999. Published every Friday.



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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

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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.

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Observing Us

my column at Fox News Online about the oddities of American life and culture.

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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.

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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.

May 7: Swedish Chef-ify any page, locate crafts shows, find a charity, and test your word savvy. As always, nifty stuff for librarians as well.

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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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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



On Monday, May 10, BIOTN and all other www.sau.edu web sites will shut down while they are moved to a new server. While I can't tell you now what the new address for BIOTN will be, or when it will be up again, when it is, each of the old pages will jump you to the new site. I have mirrored BIOTN at http://marylaine.com/wild/. We assume that the new server will give faster and more reliable delivery of these pages, and we can also guarantee you one side advantage: the new URL will be MUCH shorter.


Before I completely run out of things to talk about, I want to have some contributions from you to print. I have no problems talking about the things I have done professionally--reference, collection development, internet work, databases, user training. But there are far more kinds of work I have not done that I would like to see discussed here.

I'd like to hear from library administrators about the challenges the new technology is presenting them with, in terms of money, policy, redesign of buildings and services to accommodate it, staff training, etc. I'd like to hear people talk about how to negotiate with vendors, and how to talk back to suppliers. How about articles by people engaged in enlisting support for and constructing new library buildings?

I'd like articles by board members and trustees, and by people in the state libraries and consortiums talking about funding, programs and services for member libraries.

My statistics tell me that I have readers in Canada and Australia and the United Kingdom and other countries. What can you tell me about how they do things in your countries?

I'd like to have catalogers write about the challenge of cataloging something as transient as web sites. I'd like to have technical people write about setting up networked computers in libraries. As you'll see below, in Dr. Jon Stauff's article, I am also interested in contributions by and about library users.

You are all experts in the things you do, so I'd really like to have you put your thoughts down in 200-500 words, on these topics or any others, so you can nudge our minds and get our own ideas going. E-mail them to: marylaine at netexpress.net. And thanks.


You may have heard that AltaVista has sold out, allowing top placement on its results list to be purchased. My friend Max Handelsman sent them a snide note about this, and received this defense from them, which I think will interest you:

"I am the head of AltaVista and ultimately the one responsible for deciding to add AV Relevant Paid Links to our site. For users, this new program provides an additional tool for finding quality information quickly and complements AltaVista core index results, related searches and other innovative search capabilities.

Many users do agree that companies willing to pay through auction for a paid link will have information highly relevant to their interests. This isn't marketing hype, it has been validated in our tests and in our initial rollout.

We've also received clear feedback on how to implement this feature correctly. We MUST keep these links relevant to the information desired and we cannot overdo it: only one or two paid links are acceptable. The onus will be on us at AltaVista to ENSURE that these paid links are HIGHLY RELEVANT to the information desired. We are putting an editorial team in place to achieve this. NO paid link will go live until we've scrubbed it for relevance to the information desired. We cannot fail at this responsibility.

Contrary to what you may have heard, AV Relevant Paid Links will be clearly marked and labeled "Paid Links" in an outlined area. Users will be able to easily distinguish between AltaVista's traditional search results and Paid Placements.

Rest assured that the AV Relevant Paid Placements program will in no way compromise the integrity of AltaVista search. At AltaVista, we will continue to provide the most comprehensive array of search results and features that our users have come to expect. We will soon offer several new features that add increased relevancy to AltaVista search results. These features will not include increased revenue tactics tied to them. The AltaVista team is passionate about delivering the very best user experience (#1 in customer satisfaction is the primary customer objective of the entire AltaVista team)."

The AltaVista Team and Rod Schrock, President & CEO

AltaVista's press release is available at http://www.altavista.com/av/content/pr041599.htm


by , Assistant Professor of History, St. Ambrose University

Dr. Stauff's comments on how young students have taken to the web as their primary preferred source of information have implications for how we plan to deliver services to them in the future.

Every year thousands of American students in grades 6 through 12 participate in the National History Day program. History Day promotes critical thinking and presentation skills through original historical research in primary and secondary sources. After selecting a topic that relates to the annual theme, students work individually or in groups to complete historical papers, performances, exhibits, or documentaries for entry in district, state, and national History Day competitions. Many school districts have adapted the National History Day programs for their social studies curricula, giving students the option to take part in the competitive aspect of the program.

Over the past five years the WWW has had a great impact on the National History Day program, particularly in the last two years. The WWW has made both primary and secondary source materials widely available to students all over the country, and the younger generation has embraced the new technologies and incorporated them into their History Day research projects. Unfortunately, many students both begin and end their research with the WWW; annotated bibliographies and process papers accompanying History Day entries show how students, often from schools in rural areas without significant library resources, fail to use the Internet as a jumping-off point to research in printed books, off-line scholarly journals, and microfilmed newspapers.

Students who want to advance to the National History Day event in June need to make this jump to more conventional library resources. Most teachers and libraries would agree, though, that this transition to printed media is necessary, regardless of the competition, for the History Day project to be a successful educational exercise. Teachers and librarians preparing for the 2000 National History Day theme of "Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events" should begin researching ways that their students can integrate all available media in their History Day projects.

For more information about the National History Day program, go to http://www.thehistorynet.com/NationalHistoryDay/. Here teachers and librarians can find information about the program, the annual theme, the contest guide, and ways in which the History Day format can be adapted to social studies curricula in local schools. The NHD site also has a gateway to historical sites in each state: http://www.thehistorynet.com/NationalHistoryDay/links.htm. This is an excellent resource for any social studies teacher or librarian, as the page has hundreds of important history-related links (including guides to on-line primary sources) plus a handy guide for evaluating the authenticity of information contained on web pages.

As a district coordinator for the National History Day program in Iowa, I encourage everyone to look into NHD and get involved in this wonderful learning experience for students. NHD is a tool that encourages the development of effective library skills at a young age, skills that will serve students well as they strive to achieve their educational goals in high school and college.

COMING NEXT WEEK: OCLC's encouraging reply to last week's article about FirstSearch.

You are welcome to copy any of these articles as long as you credit Ex Libris and give its URL.