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Featured Books

Selecting and Managing
Electronic Resources

E-Service: 24 Ways to Keep
Your Customers–When the
Competition is Just a Click Away

Super Searchers
on Wall Street:
Top Investment Professionals
Share Their Online
Research Secrets

Successes & Failures
of Digital Libraries

Service, Secrets, and Success

ONLINE, January 2001
Copyright © 2001 Information Today, Inc.


This month, I focus on service, with a book to help you select and manage electronic resources, and one to improve your customer service. Then research secrets are revealed in the financial area with the latest Super Searchers book, and failures are avoided in the digital library initiatives.

* * *

Selecting and Managing Electronic Resources
by Vicki L. Gregory

ISBN: 1-55570-382-8 Published: 2000
Pages: 109; softcover Price: $55.00
Available from: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 100 Varick St., New York, NY 10013;
212/925-8650; http://www.neal-schuman.com

This practical book, by the Director of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Florida and a presenter at Online World 2000, guides the librarian through all the major issues involved in collection development for electronic resources. It starts with suggestions for an integrated collection development policy, combining all resources rather than creating a separate one for the electronic variety.

The next chapter covers selection criteria and includes a nice four-page checklist for selecting resources. Then comes budgeting and acquisitions, with another worksheet and several Web resources to help in the process. Chapter 5 deals with organization and access to electronic resources, touching on the issues of defining, identifying, and securing users. Evaluation and licensing issues are covered in the next two chapters, each one including a worksheet to help identify your own issues in these areas. The issues of preservation are discussed in the next chapter, noting that electronic resources are definitely not a stable environment. The book ends with a nice bibliography for those wanting more discussion on the issues presented.

This book does a good job of presenting the issues involved in adding electronic resources to your library. It does not go into detailed discussions, but does provide further resources if you want to delve further. The worksheets help you to apply the principles to your own situation. While many larger libraries may be beyond this book, a number of smaller institutions would profit from the knowledge presented here if the steep price doesn't scare you away.

* * *

24 Ways to Keep Your Customers–
When the Competition Is
Just a Click Away

by Ron Zemke and Tom Connellan

ISBN: 0-8144-0606-8
Published: 2000
Pages: 272; hardcover
Price: $25.00
Available from: AMACOM, American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019; 212/903-8316; http://www.amacombooks.org

If you deal with customers in an electronic environment, read this book. The authors use plenty of examples to show how customer perceptions are changing and how successful organizations need to adapt to meet these changing expectations.

I found two points that really struck me. One is the thought that your competitor is not someone in the same line of business, but the most recent buying or service experience that your customer had. Second, and related, is the notion that even if you have the best service record in the industry, if it is not up to the customer's standards, it is worth nothing. This applies to library services as well as other commercial services.

Each chapter of the book presents a different issue related to satisfying the customer, such as loyalty, design issues, personalization, end-to-end services, human contact, and customer retention. The lessons are clearly presented, with many examples, representing both good and bad service. The last chapters provide a checklist to help you evaluate your own service.

My favorite part of the book is what is called a browser's guide, which presents key points from the individual chapters with the page number so you can read the details. What a great way to skim a book, and very useful for finding a particular part again.

With so many companies providing such awful service, I wish everyone would read this book. But in particular, our industry has to be careful to benchmark our service efforts against other user experiences outside the industry if we want our customers to keep coming back.

* * * *

Super Searchers on Wall Street:
Top Investment Professionals
Share Their Online Research Secrets

by Amelia Kassel, edited by Reva Basch

ISBN: 0-910965-42-0
Published: 2000
Pages: 241; softcover
Price: $24.95
Available from: CyberAge Books, Information Today, Inc., 143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055; 609/654-6266; http://www.infotoday.com

Isn't it wonderful to have an experienced colleague to help you through the tough search questions? This book tries to capture some of that knowledge and pass it along in a very friendly way.

Amelia Kassel, a well-known independent information professional, interviews ten searchers representing a variety of aspects of the financial and investment arena about their research habits. Each interview starts with a bit of background about the individual and the organization for which he or she works. The variety of job functions and difference of focus of the various companies keep this from being boring, and actually provide a glimpse into the wide range of interests that we on the outside may lump together as the financial and investment industry.

The interviews are well written–understandable to those with even a marginal knowledge of finance, and a glossary at the end helps with the jargon. There is even one interview devoted to research for the individual investor, useful for those playing in the stock market or for helping patrons who do.

Many different resources are mentioned throughout the book, and these are all collected into an alphabetical list with Web addresses or bibliographic information. It was striking how many different resources these professionals used, and how they all preferred commercial databases as their primary resource, with the Internet as a supplement. If you have even a slight interest in financial and investment information, this book will help guide you to some of the best resources around.

* * *

Successes & Failures of Digital Libraries
edited by Susan Harum and Michael Twidale

ISBN: 0-87845-107-2
Published: 2000
Pages: 134; softcover
Price: $30.00
Available from: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 501 E. Daniel St., Champaign, IL 61820; http://www.lis.uiuc.edu/puboff/

In spite of the title, no one really wants to talk about failure. Instead, there are a few mentions of "things taking longer than expected" or "software crashing occasionally," but no real failures. I guess that is good news for all of us building digital libraries. However, the authors have tried to incorporate lessons learned and ideas for the future, which should help those working on the next generation of digital libraries.

The book is a collection of papers presented at the 35th Annual Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing in 1998. In spite of the time lag, the papers don't seem dated, showing how slowly things move in the research arena. Each paper focuses on an important issue or topic within digital libraries, covering such ideas as searching multiple files and data types, usability, semantic issues, and annotations in a digital collection. Most papers include extensive lists of references.

This thin book provides a quick overview to the status and issues in developing digital libraries. The papers are too short to gain any in-depth knowledge, but they make a quick read to come up to speed on relatively current developments, with references for delving further into the issues presented.

Deborah Lynne Wiley (deb@consultnw.com) is Principal of Next Wave Consulting, Inc. and HARDCOPY Editor.

Comments? Email letters to the Editor to marydee@infotoday.com.

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