#484  from Innovative Leader Volume 9, Number 8          August 2000

Keeping Current Through the Internet
by Marcia Henry

Ms. Henry is a reference librarian at California State University, Northridge (mhenry@csun.edu). She is author of  Search Sheets for OPACS on the Internet (Meckler, Westport, CT, 1991) and several  journal articles on various aspects of database searching and Internet research. library.csun.edu/mhenry/

So you have made the decision that you and your employees need to keep current. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a computer with software to browse the Internet, you will find that there are numerous web sites that can help you with this mission. In fact, so numerous that the world-wide web can easily be an overwhelming source of information from often unknown authors. Most of the Internet offers web pages that have not been reviewed by experts in the field before becoming accessible. The goal of this article is to offer a few important web sites which are reliable resources for keeping current by Innovative Leaderís diverse readership. You can readily access the following web sites if you have an Internet connection and a world-wide web browser (such as Netscape or Internet Explorer).

Databases Freely Available

A bibliographic database will index articles appearing in journals or periodicals that are often peer reviewed (evaluated by other people with similar expertise). You can search them by author names or keywords. The largest database of this kind is CARL UnCOVER. It is a free and searchable indexing service. UnCover may also be able to provide, for a fee, the actual journal article if you decide to use its document delivery service. UnCover has scanned the table of contents of about 18,000 journals since Fall 1988. It indexes the author's name, words in the article title as well as words in the name of the periodical itself. UnCover contains over 8,800,000 articles from a wide range of fields. The web address (URL )for UnCover is http://uncweb.carl.org/.

What UnCover does not offer is assigned subject headings for each article. Your keywords need to match the same words the author used in the title of the article. Your critical thinking skills will help you uncover articles in journals that are likely to meet your interests. You can browse the table of contents of journal titles online just as you would if you were visiting a library or large bookstore.

There are times the latest journal article has not yet been entered into the UnCover database. Then you may want to consider another kind of database such as PubList.com, The Internet Directory of Publications SM at http://www.publist.com/. This is a searchable directory.

This time, when you search, you are searching a database listing of over 150,000 magazines, journals, newsletters, and other periodicals. PubList, with almost ten times the journal titles, will not get you into the article the way UnCover does, but it allows you to search by FIRST word in the title of the journal. This directory is indexed so every journal, magazine or newsletter in it is also assigned a category. So if a keyword search for "biotechnology" only retrieved 28 publications with that name, looking over the full record shows it was assigned to a category, in this case science/technology, that may reveal several dozen more journal titles of similar interest. Each entry gives the telephone, fax number, address, e-mail and web addresses of the journal. To date, PubList boasts linking to 40,000 publishers. It is often possible to link into the journal on the web and perhaps read sample articles or even a free issue. Additionally, PubList also has document delivery services for articles, with UnCover being one of several vendors they tap for article delivery.

Library Online Catalogs (OPACS)

It's also useful to accustom yourself to using one of the large university or public library's web catalogs as a browsing or finding tool. Since most large libraries are cataloging web sites in addition to identifying needed books and journals, there is a possibility you can actually link into the document.

For example, the California Digital Library, at http://www.cdlib.org/, offers a free search of all their collections. CDL freely displays  the results from the Melvyl Catalog (University of California campuses' union online catalog).  CDL offers you a search of many millions of cataloged records, but will not display results from the indexes and abstracting databases unless you are related to the university. Since University of California campuses catalog web sites and carefully indicate if a site is free on the web, the  Melvyl catalog records, especially for government documents, may offer you a link directly into the document.

There is a directory of all library catalogs on the web at http://www.lights.com/webcats.html where you could easily identify if there is a library catalog in a location that is related to your interests. 

There is also a directory of library WWW servers at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/libweb/ where you reach the libraries' home pages. With the increasing number of web pages librarians produce to meet their patron research needs, library web sites can be valuable places to visit online.

Internet Directories

There are several Internet directories on the web that organize the web vast resources. I like to point out the Librarian's Index to the Internet at http://lii.org/.

The Librarians' Index to the Internet is a searchable, annotated subject directory of more than 6,200 Internet resources selected and evaluated by librarians for their usefulness to users of public libraries. It's meant to be used by both librarians and non-librarians as a reliable and efficient guide to described and evaluated Internet resources. The sites that a public library would select and evaluate for the areas of business, health and reference are likely to be useful to the wide range of readers of Innovative Leader. There were 1746 subjects in the LII database as of May 3, 2000.

As you know, there are at least another zillion web sites I might have mentioned in this article that might be of interest to your creative spirit. The six web sites presented to you are established internet resources through which you are likely to find evaluated, reliable web sites for current information.  

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