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Magazines > Online > January/February 2003
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Online Magazine
Vol. 27 No. 1 — Jan/Feb 2003
Hardcopy
Recommended Reading on the Library Field
By Deborah Lynne Wiley
Next Wave Consulting, Inc.


****
EXCELLENT 
***
WELL DONE 
**
MOSTLY GOOD 
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SOMETIMES ADEQUATE 
No Logo 
POOR 

FEATURED BOOKS
How to Build a Digital Library
The Librarian's Internet Survival Guide: Strategies for the High-Tech Reference Desk
Re-Thinking the Network Economy: The True Forces that Drive the Digital Marketplace
Net Crimes & Misdemeanors:
Outmaneuvering the Spammers, Swindlers, and Stalkers Who Are Targeting You Online

This issue I look at two resources that will help you use digital resources by learning how to create digital libraries and to use digital resources at the reference desk. Then it's on to a book that debunks some myths of the Internet economy and an exposition about the dangers of cyberspace.


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How to Build a Digital Library

by Ian H. Witten and David Bainbridge

ISBN: 1-55860-790-0
Published: 2003 • Pages: 552 pp.; softcover • Price: $49.95

Available from: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, an imprint of Elsevier Science,
340 Pine St., Sixth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104; 919/862-0673; www.mkp.com

What a small price to pay for such a wealth of knowledge. Here is a practical, readable book on the intricacies of building a digital library. The authors are from the highly respected New Zealand Digital Library Project, University of Waikato, and their years of experience in working with digital material shine through in the level of detail they provide.

The book starts with a few examples of digital libraries, both large and small, to give the reader a sense of perspective. The book is based on the open source Greenstone Digital Library software developed at the University of Waikato. However, most of the book is relevant to any software you want to use. The benefit is that, by using their software and this book, you can have a rudimentary digital library started in a very short period of time.

This book focuses on the practical issues involved in any digital library. Only the first and last chapters delve into the theoretical or general issues. The rest of the chapters cover such topics as digitizing, modes of access, user interfaces, metadata, markup languages, interoperability; two chapters specifically focus on how to install and use the Greenstone software. There is an excellent section on representing characters and Unicode, with the clearest explanation of the system that I have seen yet.

The book is detailed enough to be used as a textbook for a digital library class and is well indexed so that particular sections can be accessed for immediate reference. For any digital library project, large or small, this is an excellent companion--like having an expert at your beck and call.


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The Librarian's Internet Survival Guide:
Strategies for the High-Tech Reference Desk

by Irene E. McDermott,
edited by Barbara Quint

ISBN: 1-57387-129-X
Published: 2002Pages: 268 pp.; softcoverPrice: $29.50

Available from: Information Today, Inc,
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055; 609/654-6266; www.infotoday.com

Each chapter in this book was originally written as one of the "Internet Express" monthly columns for Searcher magazine, so each chapter easily stands alone. The author has been writing the column since 1997, as well as working the reference desk at San Marino Public Library, and her experience clearly influences her choice of topics and resources.

The first two-thirds of the book is devoted to Web resources, each chapter covering a topic such as searching and metasearch engines, finding people on the Internet, news resources, sites for kids, money and investment resources, and medical information. The author chooses just the major or more interesting resources and adds annotations to help you get started on a topic.

The last six chapters of the book are aimed at the helping the librarian function better behind the reference desk. These cover such things as how to create Web pages, making your Web site accessible, troubleshooting the computers, how to teach the Internet, managing Web-based e-mail, and finally, how to keep up with what is happening on the Internet. Most of these topics can simply not be covered adequately in such a short amount of space, but the author's intent is always to give you a few tips and tools to help you with a topic, not to provide comprehensive coverage. For instance, you will not learn how to make a Web page by reading her chapter on this subject, but you will learn about a few HTML editors, graphics editors, and ftp programs.

If your copies of Searcher are not handy, this book could have a place at your reference desk. It won't replace those more extensive lists of Web resources, but it will certainly come in handy for quick tips or certain topics, or for those just starting out on the Internet reference desk. 


** *
Re-Thinking the Network Economy:
The True Forces that Drive the Digital Marketplace

by Stan Liebowitz

ISBN: 0-8144-0649-1

Published: 2002
Pages: 224 pp.; hardcoverPrice: $27.95Available from: AMACOM,
American Management Association,
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019; 212/903-8316; www.amacombooks.org

This fun-to-read book is for those trying to figure out what happened to the booming Internet economy. The author, an economist and professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, tries to point out how the Internet does not change everything, particularly not the basic strategies of business.

I like the fact that the author admits upfront that he lost a lot of money being wrong about the Internet economy. It is so much easier to figure out what happened in hindsight than it is to predict the future. The author looks at beliefs commonly held just a year or two ago by those involved in the Internet economy and indicates where or why they were wrong. He uses quotes from the time, primarily from leaders of now defunct organizations. How could we have believed all that hype? But he is quick to point out that not all of the assumptions were invalid, just that often assumptions were made comparing what was happening on the Internet to another media or environment, and the comparisons themselves were invalid.

The chapters cover such topics as racing to be first to market (is it really such a good idea to give away your product?), the network effect, advertising models, and copyright on the Internet. Many points are made with a sarcastic tinge, which can be amusing, depending on which side of the stock market you are on. The author documents his points with extensive footnotes, so you can follow up on some of the thought-provoking statements he makes.

I'm not sure that I agree with everything in this book, but the author does have a knack for deconstructing the prevailing thought pattern and showing where it goes wrong. His ideas make you think twice about some basic assumptions. You may not change your opinion, but the process of questioning is a good thing. 


****
Net Crimes & Misdemeanors:
Outmaneuvering the Spammers, Swindlers, and Stalkers Who Are Targeting You Online

by J. A. Hitchcock

ISBN: 0-910965-57-9

Published: 2002
Pages: 370 pp.; softcoverPrice: $24.95Available from: CyberAge Books,
an imprint of Information Today, Inc.
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055; 609/654-6266; www.infotoday.com

Read this book and you will think twice about everything you do on the Internet. Like most people, I had the impression that if you are Internet savvy and a little bit careful, then you have nothing to worry about in cyberspace. The real-world examples presented in the book, including the author's own horrible experiences, show how you can be victimized even when you have done nothing wrong or stupid.

The author uses real stories to show what has happened to people in the past and then analyzes what can be done about it. She provides many Web resources for obtaining further information or getting help. The book covers such situations as cyberstalking, spam, urban legends and hoaxes, online shopping and auctions, and chat and offers several chapters that provide advice on how to keep you, your children, and your computer safe.

Many of the perpetrators of online trouble have some real-world connection with their victims in cyberspace--an ex-worker, ex-spouse, disgruntled employee, or unhappy customer--but cyberspace provides an easier outlet for their malicious intentions than the physical world. From the examples in the book, it is obvious the current legislation and police activities are struggling to catch up with these new-style crimes. Hence, this book is an important resource for those seeking help. What would you do if you were suddenly receiving thousands of spam e-mails a day? What if personal information about you appeared on a Web site? Read this book and find out how to handle these situations.

The author has written the book at a level that even a fairly novice user can understand, while still being useful to the more experienced. She takes the time to explain exactly what is happening in the various situations with technical explanations of how to track through e-mail headers, cookie files, and cache files. This is a must-read book for anyone using the Internet. Being aware of what can happen is the first step in preventing these crimes, and, if you, too, are victimized, or know someone who has been, the resources and advice provided in this book will prove invaluable.


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

Comments? Email the editor at marydee@infotoday.com

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