In today’s special infoDOCKET edition of LJXpress, we are collecting a few examples of some of the high-quality open-web resources we’ve shared on infoDOCKET during the past year. They are also examples of the types of open-web resources libraries should be increasingly collecting and promoting.
Why? It’s time to give open-web collection development the attention it deserves. In most respects this is nothing new. It’s simply taking what we’ve always done—as when we build collections of print and electronic tools—and adapting these concepts for the open web.
No single research or reference resource is perfect. Both fee-based and free, open-web, resources have their place and saying only one or the other is needed would be wrong and missing the point.
That said, fee-based resources often have marketing budgets tied to their development and promotion, while the discovery of high-quality free resources and the content they contain or functionality they offer is a huge part of the challenge of making use of them effectively.
Sure, you can go to a general purpose web search engine, enter a few words, and see what you get. But this is far from a sure thing. Doing this in a busy reference situation (e.g. “I need it now”) further complicates the situation.
Making better use of the free or very low cost resources and web tools can also help the library free up resources and funds to purchase new or additional fee-based resources.
I’ll add that while many reviews are helpful when it comes to web sites they can also be limiting. In other words, a specific open web database might have a specific feature that is not mentioned in a review but can be very useful in specific situations for specific users.
So, along with simple discovery and knowledge of something being available it’s also essential for info pros to discuss these resources, via all avenues available to them, including social media, email lists, and more.
Meanwhile, it’s just as important that time is spent by staff to “learn” these tools. Again, this is really not any different than learning a new reference book or electronic database. Understanding how to use these tools at more than basic level can make you and your library an even more powerful and valuable resource.
Remember, everyone is a “searcher” these days but a very small amount of knowledge on how to make a resource a more powerful research tool is highly marketable when working with end users and often doesn’t take a long time to incorporate.
What’s included in today’s newsletter edition is only a tiny portion of what we’ve selected to share on infoDOCKET and an even tinier portion of what’s available on the open web.
Finally, you might want to consider sharing some of what we post on infoDOCKET directly with your users via email updates, blog posts, etc. Sharing useful content can be an inexpensive but simple (and fast) way of keeping your name and library in the mind of your patrons.
Direct to Special Edition of LJ Express, infoDOCKET Edition (December 5, 2012)
Includes several favorite new/updated open-web resources from 2012.
Thanks for reading –
Gary Price, editor, LJ’s infoDOCKET