Date of this Version
Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship (Summer 2002) 3(3). Also available at http://southernlibrarianship.icaap.org/content/v03n03/Hoggan_d01.htm.
Scientists face many challenges in harnessing web-based resources. Information overload, misinformation, fees, poorly designed navigation, and loss of browsability all hamper the scientist searcher. In addition, many scientists rely on only one or two databases and often miss unique information that is available through other sources. Librarians can team up with scientists to develop strategies to overcome the challenges of web-based information. For example, a librarian can teach effective information seeking techniques, including how to use controlled vocabularies, how to evaluate information on the web, and how to complement web-based resources with print resources. Librarians can also help scientists to identify multiple electronic resources to more thoroughly cover a given topic. In addition, librarians can provide many tools to help scientists better utilize web-based resources. Subject directories can help scientists to cut through the information overload on the web and more quickly find relevant and high-quality information. Database selection tools can help scientists to find relevant databases for their research. Navigation of e-journal web sites can be eased or eliminated by linking software, and preprints can be more easily located using a preprint server. Finally, cost issues can be helped somewhat by making the most of the free web-based resources that are available from the U.S. government. Web-based resources present possibilities as well as problems. Librarians can provide the strategies and tools to help scientists make the most of web-based information.