Similar, Yet Separate Collections

In a recent article, Ensor (Ensor, 1995: 6) profiles several major library-community efforts to provide enhanced access to World Wide Web resources, notably the OCLC Internet Cataloging Project and the various subject guides and indexes provided by Gale, SilverPlatter and the Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides. In recounting her attempts to locate information on the Internet, she outlines her use of an Internet search engine and her subsequent success in identifying significant resources on a research topic. She subsequently describes her evaluation of these resources, and her plans to "arrange these items hierarchically by subject in a way ... [she] believe[s] will be most helpful to those using the pages" (Ensor, 1995: 6).
Ensor's account is representative of many such efforts that librarians, and others, have made in enhancing access to Internet resources by careful selection and organization. However, while Ensor applauds these singular initiatives, she also questions whether such separate efforts are the best "way to 'organize' the future" (Ensor, 1995: 7).
In considering, the future role that librarians can play in organizing significant Interent resources, we should heed her concern. Librarians must look beyond individual and local needs, and begin to give full consideration to the ways in which our professional skills can be applied not just to the creation and maintenance of a special collection of Internet resources, but to the larger issue of the development of centralized, integrated and unified national collections of Internet resources which can be built through cooperative collection development projects in a networked environment. Within systems such as CyberStacks(sm), all well-managed local efforts potentially will not only benefit a targeted audience, but a broader world user community as well.
Cited Reference
Pat Ensor, "Organizing the Web: a contradiction in terms," Technicalities 15(9): 1, 6-7 (September 1995).
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