The Essential Web A presentation at Computers in Libraries 2000, March 2000
Karen Hartman Ernest Ackermann  


Directories, Virtual Libraries, and Specialized Databases

Directories or subject catalogs, are especially useful for general questions as "What resources does the World Wide Web have on vegetarianism?" and "What kind of information is available on mathematical sciences?" Directories can also help you find the best resources on a particular topic.

Some examples: Magellan | Open Directory Project | Yahoo!

Virtual libraries are directories that contain collections of resources that librarians and information specialists have carefully chosen and organized in a logical way. These people usually rate or analyze the resources and arrange them so they will be found easily.

TIP: Directories and virtual libraries are most useful when

There are three major types of resources that virtual libraries are most apt to contain: subject guides, reference works, and specialized databases. Subject guides are Web resources that include hyperlinks to sites on that particular subject. Reference works are full-text documents, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, and so forth.

Some examples: Argus Clearinghouse | Internet Public Library | Librarians' Index to the Internet

Specialized databases are searchable indexes that catalog certain types of material, such as journal article citations, financial data, and so forth.

Some good places to find specialized databases (other than virtual libraries): | The Invisible Web | Library Spot

Check our annotated lists of selected directories and virtual libraries for some of the more popular ones.

Karen Hartman
Ernest Ackermann
Presented at Computers in Libraries 2000 March 2000