There are a number of reference sites containing collections of links to selected websites organized by subject or category. They are sometimes described as online reference directories, web indexes, or “best of the web,” but I just call them link collections. They can be a good way to discover useful sources of information that you otherwise might never find. Some of the best link collections have been created by librarians who carefully choose which websites they include.
I suggest taking time to explore link collections when you aren’t actually looking for specific information. As each contains links to hundreds or thousands of different websites, they can be completely overwhelming. In reality, only a small number of the individual websites they link to may actually be of use to you. Browse through a specific subject area of interest, see which websites look potentially useful to you, then bookmark and organize those websites you want to keep track of for future reference. By familiarizing yourself in advance with individual reference websites and putting them where you can find them again, you’ll have a much easier time of it when you do need information.
Here are a few general link collections to get you started:
- www.refdesk.com: Refdesk.com is a truly vast and headache-inducing site, with links to thousands of websites. It may be better for finding quick facts than doing in-depth research.
- www.nypl.org/links/: The New York Public Library’s “Best of the Web.”
- www.loc.gov/rr/main/alcove9/: The Library of Congress’ annotated list of reference websites.
- www.digital-librarian.com: A librarian’s choice of the best of the web.
- www.lii.org: Librarians’ Internet Index.
In future posts I’ll write about more specialized subject link collections.