Top positive review
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An excellent guide for research librarians
on June 20, 2003
It used to be that a good reference librarian had only to keep up with the new books being published, and perhaps keep one eye on the newspapers and learned journals. Nowadays, one has to keep track of where best to find the answers to questions on the Web, as well. And it ain't easy! Massive printed volumes of Web addresses weren't much help even a decade ago because they were indiscriminate and seldom included annotations. What we needed -- and still need -- are a few collections of a (relatively) few carefully selected germane Web sites with the reasons given for their inclusion. And this discriminating and well thought out guide is the best one I've seen yet. It's intended mostly for the professional information broker or commercial researcher-for-hire, but librarians in any large public or academic library system do much the same sort of thing and will profit enormously by reading it. After an excellent introduction to the principles of online research, it's divided into topical sections: government resources, public records, news sites, business tools, and international (i.e., non-U.S.) research. Then there are several sections on managing and filtering what you find, how to evaluate its credibility and utility, and privacy concerns. Schlein spends considerable time on fee-based and "hidden" resources, too, not just the freebies on the public Web. Some of the sites he recommends I was already aware of, but there are many others I hadn't run across before. And I have been recommending his advice on search strategies and information massaging to my colleagues. There are a couple of annoying things about this otherwise superior book, however. One is the need for much, much tighter copyediting -- like saying "the software can be moderated" when they meant "modified," and the sometimes eccentric punctuation, and the tendency to break Web addresses in peculiar places (letting only the last character of ".html" fall to the next line gives you a quite different address). The other annoyance is a tendency by the author to laud (frequently) any book published by his editors, associates, or advisors -- so much so that it becomes embarrassing. But given the high quality of the book's actual content, I suppose I can live with that.