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Spotlight on Library Portals and News Sites
Posted On March 1, 2000
Portals seem to be sprouting all over the Web these days. Not surprisingly, a number have emerged under the library theme, among them LibraryHQ, which I reported on 2 weeks ago in a February 14 NewsBreak ( Some aim directly for librarians, while others target the much larger audience of library users. This month's NewsLink Spotlight highlights some of these library-oriented Web portals.

As noted in my NewsBreak, LibraryHQ ( is a new commercial endeavor that aims to be a Web portal for librarians. Billing itself as offering "resources for the wired librarian," it contains resources of special interest to the profession, including news items, threaded discussion forums, a database of cataloged Internet resources, and resources on library automation and digital library technologies. With financial backing from SIRSI Corp. and CEA Capital Partners, the site is currently focusing on building interesting content as it develops a business model to sustain the site.

LibrarySpot ( is a commercially developed information portal developed by StartSpot Mediaworks, Inc. This company develops portals for a variety of consumer groups, or vertical markets. LibrarySpot brings together a wealth of resources under the general headings of libraries, reference, and reading room. Under each of these categories, visitors to the site will find a number of selected resource lists. LibrarySpot does not provide original content, but selects and organizes resources in a way specially tailored for the library user or library worker. The site presents banner ads on each resource page.

Auto-Graphics, a veteran library automation and publishing company, recently launched its ( spin-off and Web site. LibraryCard's mission is to "make bibliographic and other reference-type information and services available to the public." The site presents well-organized lists of relevant Web-based resources for a large variety of reference topics. According to the "company information" page on the site, plans soon to incorporate various e-commerce capabilities, offering products and services of interest to its library-oriented audience.

Another worthy library portal site is the Librarians' Index to the Internet ( This site currently provides access to about 5,800 resources, and is maintained by a team of 95 California librarians. The site traces its beginnings to 1990 as a listing of Gopher references. This evolved into Berkeley Public Library Index to the Internet by 1993, and it eventually migrated to the Digital Library SunSITE at Berkeley. The site benefits from a grant funded by the Federal Library Services and Technology Act awarded by the California State Library.

Along the same lines, there are also new sites emerging that specialize even more than the portals, focusing directly on presenting news and current information in a given field. These sites have recently become known as "Weblogs." This relatively new genre of Web media lists and describes events related to a particular area of interest. Current information is the hallmark of a Weblog, and most are updated daily. Lots of Weblogs have sprouted for the library crowd, including these: Liblog, (, a library Weblog created and maintained by the Redwood City, California, public library that focuses on "current Web sites and stories dealing with the interface between technology and libraries"; AcqWebLog (, which chronicles events related to library acquisitions and publishing; (, published by librarian Jessamyn West and presenting another detailed account of library-oriented news.

LISNews ( is a new site that offers news and feature stories related to libraries and information science. LISNews launched in November 1999 and already underwent a major redesign just last month. Unlike other library-oriented Web sites, LISNews does not attempt to list all library-related resources on the Web, but focuses on delivering up-to-date news. The site contains content from a variety of sources, including summaries created by LISNews staff and links to full-text stories from online newspapers and publications. This site also includes a regularly updated poll that queries visitors on their opinions on timely topics, and forms for contributing stories or story ideas. The site is archived and indexed. The business model of LISNews isn't readily apparent.

All these sites work hard to attract the library-oriented visitor. As with the general search-engine and Web portals, enjoy the content of the site, but beware of any subtle (or not-so-subtle) slant of content driven by underlying business interests.

Marshall Breeding is a library technology officer at Vanderbilt University and a columnist for Computers in Libraries.

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