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Magazines > Online > Sep/Oct 2003
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Online Magazine
Vol. 27 No. 5 — Sep/Oct 2003
Recommended Reading on Webmastering, Classification, and Legal Issues
By Deborah Lynne Wiley
Next Wave Consulting, Inc.

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Featured Books:
The Accidental Webmaster
High-Level Subject Access Tools and Techniques in Internet Cataloging
The Library's Legal Answer Book
E-Mail Rules: A Business Guide to Managing Policies, Security, and Legal issues for E-Mail and Digital Communication

This month I look at a book to get you into Webmastering, if you haven't dabbled yet, a quick look at the state of classifying electronic resources, and then some legal issues for libraries and e-mail management.

The Accidental Webmaster

by Julie M. Still

ISBN: 1-57387-164-8

Published: 2003

Pages: 192 pp.; softcover

Price: $29.95

Available from: Information Today, Inc.
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055;

If you have done a bit of HTML coding and are thinking of branching out into Webmastering on a small scale, this book will tell you what's in store for you. The author, a librarian and Webmaster at the Paul Robeson Library, Camden Campus, Rutgers University, begins by telling you how to get started with a small non-profit, friend's business, or whatever. She wisely points out a lot of the personnel issues, such as confirming who makes the design decisions right at the start. If you are thinking of working with a non-Web-savvy group, give them this short book to read first. They will have a better appreciation of the issues involved.

This is not a technical book. It is a guide to the organizational, legal, and practical issues that you will face as a part-time or even volunteer Webmaster. I'm sure you would learn most of this on your own, but how nice to save the aggravation and get some pointers up-front.

The book is divided into 20 chapters, covering such topics as setting policies, hosting, design issues, community building, fundraising, marketing, and several chapters devoted to specific types of sites (advocacy, religious, cultural, fan sites, etc.). Each chapter ends with a list of suggested readings--all print-based. I was astonished that no Web resources were referenced, except for a short list of six at the end of the book. I am definitely of the opinion that the best place to learn about the Web is on the Web.

This is definitely not the book for the techno-geeks, but for those just putting a toe in the Webmastering murk, this is a good beginning guide to the issues.


High-Level Subject Access Tools and Techniques in Internet Cataloging

edited by Judith R. Ahronheim

ISBN: 0-7890-2025-4

Published: 2002

Pages: 115 pp.; softcover

Price: $24.95

Available from: Haworth Information Press, 10 Alice Street, Binghamton, NY 13904; 607/771-0012;
(Also published as the Journal of Internet Cataloging, vol. 5, number 4, 2002.)

The six articles in this slim book, edited by Judith Ahronheim, a metadata specialist at the University of Michigan Graduate Library, give a broad perspective of attempts to map existing classification schemes with user or context-based terminologies. Essentially, to manage the proliferation of electronic resources that librarians want to present to the user, there is no longer time to manually classify the resources with applicable subject terms. The goal is to use classification that is already in the OPAC record, whether it is LCSH, Dewey, or whatever, and to map those codes to corresponding hierarchical subject terms (á là Yahoo!) that the user can understand and browse.

The first article compares the number of top terms, depth, and structure of hierarchies of the major library classification schemes with those of Yahoo! and LookSmart and concludes that they are very similar. The next three papers describe pilot projects at Columbia University, University of Washington, and University of Michigan to map LC classification codes to specific new taxonomies to enable users to see lists of library resources categorized by subject. These give some insight to the practical and technical issues involved in mapping.

The last two papers look more at the political and social issued involved in classifying and presenting resources and using particular terms to do so. The MyLibrary portal at NC State is described and issues related to student use and preferences are discussed. One questions how easy we need to make research for the students. And finally, the last paper describes a U.K. initiative to map different taxonomies and thesauri from different subject areas to facilitate cross-disciplinary searching.

There is much happening in the area of taxonomy development, but mostly it seems new taxonomies are sprouting like mushrooms. It is good to think of ways to map different schemes to ultimately facilitate the users' seamless venture through any kind of electronic resource. This book is but the tip of the iceberg.


The Library's Legal Answer Book

by Mary Minow and
Tomas A. Lipinski

ISBN: 0-8389-0828-4

Published: 2003

Pages: 350 pp.; softcover

Price: $48.00

Available from: ALA Editions, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611; 866/746-7252;

How I regret that this book is necessary, but in our litigious society, it may be a lifesaver. Although the book is written by lawyers (both also with library science degrees), and they occasionally lapse into legalese, the book is fairly readable and certainly thoroughly documented. Every point they make is footnoted and referenced.

The book is written in the style of FAQs. Each chapter begins with a lengthy list of questions that a librarian may ask, and then each question is answered in order within the chapter. The nine chapters cover copyright, Web page design and linking, Internet access and filters, ADA compliance, privacy, public displays, professional liability, employment, and friends of the library and lobbying issues, all with a direct focus on libraries. It is highly unlikely that you will read the book from cover to cover, but it is easy to find the topic you want from the list of questions in each chapter.

The book cannot substitute for legal advice (as the authors clearly state), but it is a good guide to the major issues affecting libraries today. There are lots of things covered that I never even thought about, like a "love contract" for romantically involved employees and liability for writing book reviews, and plenty of issues like copyright that I hear endlessly, but am never quite sure what the law exactly is. If you are like me, you'll find this book a useful guide for staying out of trouble with the law.


E-Mail Rules: A Business Guide to Managing Policies, Security, and Legal issues for E-Mail and Digital Communication

by Nancy Flynn and
Randolph Kahn, Esq.

ISBN: 0-8144-7188-9

Published: 2003

Pages: 254 pp.; softcover

Price: $19.95

Available from: AMACOM, American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019; 212/903-8316;

Continuing in the legal vein--Randolph Kahn is an attorney while Nancy Flynn is a freelance author and e-policy expert--this book will help you to manage and set policies for the use of e-mail within your organization. If you worry about liability and compliance with the law, this book provides the "rules" you need to implement in your organization to control e-mail use and abuse.

The book contains 37 rules and 37 chapters divided into seven main topics. The first makes the case for e-mail management, using several real-life examples and statistics to show how your failure to implement policies can cost you and your organization in time, money, and other damages. Then comes the section on designing and implementing policies, with a variety of suggestions.

Parts three and four may be the most interesting to librarians, as they deal with the requirements for maintaining e-mail as business and legal records. The authors describe a couple of software automation tools to help in categorizing and filtering e-mail messages, as well as discussing other archiving issues.

Part five covers e-mail security, part six discusses managing other communications media like instant messaging and peer to peer networking, and part seven provides details on educating employees as to your e-mail policies and strategies.

Unlike the previous book, this one is aimed at businesses rather than specifically libraries, but there is much that applies to anyone who can potentially have to deal with abuse of the organization's e-mail system. Better to be forewarned and prepared.

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