Category Archives: Link collections

Tweet Salad

I often tweet (or retweet) links to interesting articles, resources, and websites instead of blogging about them, especially when I’m busy.  I’ve decided to periodically archive selected links that may be of interest to my blog readers on this new page on the menu bar: Tweets. (For all of my tweets, follow me on Twitter @bylisagold.)

Intute–one of the best link collections for research–has lost its funding

I learned today (via Resource Shelf) that Intute, one of my favorite research websites because of its great annotated reference link collection, will lose its funding as of August 2010. From the announcement on Intute’s blog:

We regret to inform our users and contributors that JISC has announced that its funding for Intute will be cut with effect from August 2010. It is JISC policy that, wherever possible, services move from being fully funded by JISC to being sustainable by other means. Unfortunately in the current economic climate no realistic alternative funding model for Intute as it currently stands has been identified.

Despite this JISC has acknowledged the pioneering work of Intute, its value to the community, and the insights it has given into the use of the Internet in education.

Our current service level will be maintained until 1 August 2010. After this date, Intute will still be available but with minimal maintenance….

Intute was created by a group of UK universities as a free online service to help find the best web resources for education and research. The site contains an excellent (and very large) annotated collection of links to web resources that you can search or browse by subject. (Subject specialists select and evaluate the sources and write detailed descriptions.) Intute also provides Internet training with free resources and online tutorials to help develop Internet research skills.

Intute is funded by JISC, the Joint Information Systems Committee, which, according to its website, “inspires UK colleges and universities in the innovative use of digital technologies, helping to maintain the UK’s position as a global leader in education.” Here’s the link to JISC’s statement about cutting off funding for Intute. It sounds like they may keep the site up, but if the database of web sources is not regularly updated and expanded, over time it will become outdated and far less useful.

Sites like Intute are crucially important, as their experts curate the web by finding, evaluating, and highlighting the most useful and credible sources, more of which come online every day. I wonder if there’s any chance of some institution stepping up to provide funding or take over the project.

Update, January 2015: Intute has disappeared from the web.

The controversy over Google Book Search

In the months since the Google Book Search settlement was announced, there has been a lot of commentary, criticism, and debate about it.  If you’d like to read more about the controversy, below is a collection of links to some interesting articles, essays, and blog posts.  (Here’s my original October 28, 2008 post on the subject right after the settlement was announced. My initial reaction was very positive, but I do have some concerns and opinions which I’ll save for a future post. )

New York Times articles:

April 4, 2009 article, “Google’s plan for out-of-print books is challenged.”

February 1, 2009 article, “Some fear Google’s power in digital books.”

January 4, 2009 article, “Google hopes to open a trove of little-seen books.”

October 28, 2008 article, “Google settles suit over book-scanning.”

Commentary and criticism:

Walt Crawford’s “Perspective: The Google Books Settlement,” a 30-page analysis and summary of commentary by others in the March 2009 Cites & Insights newsletter.

Robert Darnton’s  “Google & the Future of Books” in the New York Review of Books (February 12, 2009), and letters in response to Darnton’s essay.

Jonathan Grimmelmann’s “How to Fix the Google Book Search Settlement” in the April 2009 Journal of Internet Law.

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Reader’s Guide to the Google Book Search Settlement.”

Jonathan Band’s “A Guide for the Perplexed: Libraries and the Google Library Project Settlement” (November 2008).

Charlie Petit’s commentary on his Scrivner’s Error blog.

In March 2009 a conference was held at Columbia Law School called “The Google Books Settlement: What Will it Mean for the Long Term?” The blog Open Access News has a summary of blog comments about the conference. More on the conference from the LibraryLaw Blog (part 1 and part 2).

If you have any link suggestions or opinions you’d like to share, please do so in the comments to this post.

Research and Documentation Online

Diana Hacker’s Research and Documentation Online is a website about finding, evaluating, and documenting reference sources. The site is based on one of Hacker’s handbooks for college students, Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age, but the information she provides would be useful to just about anyone who does research. I particularly like her tips for evaluating print and online sources and the annotated lists of specialized sources (databases and indexes, web resources, and reference books) for over 30 disciplines in four categories (humanities, social sciences, history, and sciences). She also includes guidelines for documenting print and online sources (Chicago, MLA, APA, and CSE styles) and a comprehensive list of style manuals for different disciplines.

Reference link collections (part 4)

An excellent reference link collection for humanities research is Voice of the Shuttle, created by Alan Liu, an English professor at UC Santa Barbara. The site is an annotated guide to online resources that can be searched or browsed by the following categories:  general humanities resources; postindustrial business theory; anthropology; archaeology; area and regional studies; art (modern and contemporary); art history; classical studies; cultural studies; cyberculture; dance; gender and sexuality studies; history; legal studies; literature (in English); literatures (other than English); literary theory; media studies; minority studies; music; philosophy; photography; politics and government; religious studies; science, technology, and culture; and technology of writing. Each category is further divided into extensive and useful subcategories to make browsing easier.

Reference link collections (part 3)

Still more reference link collections: Intute is an annotated collection of web resources for education and research, created by a network of UK universities. Subject specialists select and evaluate the websites and write detailed descriptions. This site contains over 120,000 resources in the arts and humanities, health and life sciences, social sciences, and science, engineering, and technology. You can browse through the “Subject A-Z” list of hundreds of specific subjects,  or use the search functions. The advanced search function will allow you to limit your results by the type of resource. The New York Times Newsroom Navigator is a collection of web resources used by journalists and editors at the New York Times “as a starting point for their forays into the Web…  without forcing all of them to spend time wandering around to find a useful set of links on their own.” In addition to the Newsroom Navigator, there are separate Business Navigator, Politics Navigator, and Health Navigator link collections.

Update January 2015: Intute, sadly, has disappeared from the web. For alternatives, see my Sources page.

Library resources you can access from home

If you haven’t visited a library website recently, you may be surprised to learn there are a wealth of free reference sources and research tools which you may be able to access from the comfort of your home, any time of the day or night.

If you have a library card, many public library systems give you free access to a wide range of electronic resources through their websites, including subscription databases, reference books, newspapers, magazines, and journals. For example, the Seattle Public Library offers free access to the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford Reference Online (which allows you to search hundreds of Oxford University Press reference works in all subjects), the New York Times historical archive dating back to 1851, Britannica Online, and the AP Photo Archive, to name only a few. Many libraries also allow you to download digital audiobooks and ebooks to your home computer.

If you don’t have a library card, most libraries will allow you to use their onsite computers to access their electronic resources.  This is true for many colleges and universities as well. You won’t be able to access their resources remotely unless you are a current student or faculty member, but if you visit their campus libraries you can use their public terminals. University libraries tend to have a far wider and deeper range of electronic resources than public libraries, so if you are doing serious research, it may well be worth the trip.

Many libraries throughout the world offer free online resources available to everyone, such as their own “best of the web” link collections. One of the most surprising free services offered by some libraries is “Ask the Librarian,”  which allows you to ask research questions by email or live web chat. Look for terms like “Ask the Librarian” or  “Chat with a Librarian” on a library website, or use a search engine to find one.

Rare book library websites offer extraordinary and unique digital collections, online exhibitions, virtual galleries and showcases, essays and articles, collection and research guides, and bibliographies. Some of the best include the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, and the British Library, to name a few.

To find links to libraries around the world, check out Library Spot.

Reference link collections (part 2)

Here are two of the more interesting specialized link collections.  Martindale’s Reference Desk has an unusual collection of links with a strong emphasis on science and technology. Subject categories include cyberinfrastructure and the Internet, agriculture, livestock, engineering, astronomy, chemistry, geosciences, materials science, physics, mathematics, archeology, aeronautics, maritime, languages, and health sciences. The site also links to over 23,000 online calculators. Deborah Lawson’s Historical Research Page is a great site.  Subject categories include many different periods of history, maps, money, weapons, clothing and accessories, transportation and travel, food and drink, etiquette, language and slang, government, law, occupations, inventions and technology, postal history, crime, sexuality and marriage, household matters, religion, medicine and illness, the military, architecture, diaries and letters, historical newspapers and magazines, and advertising.

Update, 8/12/10: Deborah Lawson’s Historical Research Page has been offline for many months now. I’m trying to find out what happened, and I’ll post if I learn anything useful. Here’s the link to the Internet Archive’s October 2007 archived version of her page. If you put your cursor over her links, you should be able to see their web addresses, but don’t be surprised if many of the links are dead.

Reference link collections (part 1)

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:

 In future posts I’ll write about more specialized subject link collections.