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Magazines > Online > January/February 2004
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Online Magazine
Vol. 28 No. 1 — Jan/Feb 2004
Hardcopy
Recommended Reading on the Library Field
By Deborah Lynne Wiley
Next Wave Consulting, Inc.

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EXCELLENT 
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WELL DONE 
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MOSTLY GOOD 
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This month I look at two books to help you find business information on the Web, a great student guide to Google, and a book for those techies looking to implement RDF.

FEATURED BOOKS

Score
The Core Business Web: A Guide to Key Information Resources
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Business Statistics on the Web: Find Them Fast—At Little or No Cost ****
Practical RDF ***
Google Pocket Guide ***



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The Core Business Web: A Guide to Key Information Resources
edited by Gary W. White
ISBN: 0-7890-2095-5
Published: 2003
Pages: 325 pp.; softcover
Price: $29.25

Available from: Available from Haworth Information Press, 10 Alice St.,
Binghamton, NY 13904-1580; 800/429-6784 or 607/722/5857; www.haworthpress.com

As the title states, this book aims to describe the best Web sites within 25 different areas of business. A different business librarian, all but one working in U.S. academic institutions, authors each of the 25 topic-specific chapters. (The book is also available as Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, Vol. 8, No. 2 and Nos. 3/4.) Each chapter follows the same guidelines in determining the "best" sites in their areas. The criteria include authority of the source, quantity of information, organization and ease of use of the site, currency, and price. Most of the sites are free, or at least partially free. In some instances, particularly valuable fee-based sites have been included.

The chapters cover the spectrum of business topics, including accounting, banking, statistics, demography, career and salary information, economics, company and industry information, labor, real estate, taxation, and more. Each chapter lists approximately 20 to 30 resources, with a paragraph or two of annotation. There is an index, but no separate list of the resources covered in the book, nor is the list of links available online.

If you are new to business resources, or only occasionally need to retrieve information in this area, then this book is a handy reference to get you started on the major sites. For experienced business researchers, you will get more out of the following book, Business Statistics on the Web.


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Business Statistics on the Web: Find Them Fast—At Little or No Cost
by Paula Berinstein
ISBN: 0-910965-65-X
Published: 2003
Pages: 244 pp.; softcover
Price: $29.95

Available from: CyberAge Books, Information Today, Inc., 143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055; 800/300-9868; www.infotoday.com

This book is much more than just a list of Web sites for business statistics, although it does list and describe plenty of them. It also gives sound advice on how to find the information you are seeking, including interesting case studies that show how the author would approach a particular question.

The book covers primarily U.S. sources, but does include some other English-language sources from the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and a few from other countries. There is an entire chapter devoted to non-U.S. sources.

The book is divided into 12 chapters. First there is a "Quick Start" chapter describing some of the major sites from governments and trade associations. Then comes a primer on statistics that will be a real help to those new at this game. This is followed by explanations of who actually generates statistics and then general search tips. The author primarily relies on Google and rarely mentions any other search engine, although she does give some tips for searching specific sites like Factiva and FindArticles.

The middle of the book is devoted to Web resources, divided into U.S. Industry Sources, Non-U.S. Industry Sources, Market Research Resources, Economic and Financial Statistics, Company Information, and Demographic and Population Statistics. The last chapter is my favorite, as it describes how to estimate numbers that you can't actually find.

If you need any kind of business information, this is the book for you. Both novice and experienced searchers will learn from the tips and tricks provided.


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Practical RDF
by Shelley Powers
ISBN: 0-596-00263-7
Published: 2003
Pages: 350 pp.; softcover
Price: $39.95

Available from: O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., 1005 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, CA 95472; 800/998-9938 or 707/827-7000; www.oreilly.com

If you don't know what RDF stands for, skip this book. It is an intermediate-level book designed for those ready to implement RDF solutions, whether for large-scale information aggregation or smaller projects such as Weblog syndication.

The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a structure for describing and interchanging metadata on the Web. Dublin Core can be considered a child of RDF, as both are compatible specifications. RDF is a way to describe the model of metadata interchange, while Dublin Core defines the elements.

The first part of the book contains an introduction to RDF and details of the specification documents, including a historical perspective of how RDF came about. This includes relating RDF to XML and describing the basic elements required in the RDF syntax specifications. The RDF vocabulary or schema is described, including a comparison of the Dublin Core and PostCon elements.

The second part of the book focuses on tools for editing, parsing, browsing, and managing RDF data. These include individual tools such as BrownSauce for browsing, ARP2 and ICS-FORTH for parsing, and IsaViz and REJ for editing, as well as the full-featured Java-based Jena API for RDF.

The last part of the book looks at some applications of RDF in both commercial and non-commercial settings. Included here is a discussion of RDF Site Summery (RSS) applications for news aggregation and Weblogging. The author also describes some tools for creating your own syndication.

If you are involved in managing large amounts of Web content that you want to share with others, then you should be looking at RDF. If you are looking at implementing RDF, this practical book will help you along.


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Google Pocket Guide
by Tara Calishain, Rael Dornfest & DJ Adams
ISBN: 0-596-00550-4
Published: 2003
Pages: 129 pp.; softcover
Price: $9.95

Available from: O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.,
1005 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, CA 95472; 800/998-9938 or 707/827-7000; www.oreilly.com

This book is written by two of the same authors as Google Hacks, reviewed in my July/August 2003 column. If that book was too much for you, try this tiny one. Most of the search techniques and features covered in Hacks are also covered here, but all of the programming and really detailed stuff is left out. This makes the Pocket Guide much more suited to those just wanting to get the most out of searching Google.

The Pocket Guide is tiny but it covers a wealth of material. It is ideal for putting next to your public terminals, although you'll have to figure out a way to tie it down. This book is definitely going to walk.

The book is divided into four parts. Part One is an introduction of what Google can do, including some sample searches in both Basic and Advanced mode. Part Two, "Asking for What You Want," gives descriptions of the special syntax used by Google to search only in specific parts of a page or specific types of material. A list of these is also included in the Appendix.

Part Three explains what you get in your search results, including setting preferences and URL construction. Part Four focuses on additional Google services, such as searching Google Groups, Directory, Images, Froogle, Stocks, Phonebook, and so on.

This handy guide is useful for those who have advanced past typing in one word and clicking "search." It provides enough detail to help you find what you seek, without overwhelming you with explanations. Librarians may often want more details, but for students and researchers, this book will be enough.


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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