The Web Library: Building a World‐Class Personal Library with Free Web Resources

Madely du Preez (University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




du Preez, M. (2004), "The Web Library: Building a World‐Class Personal Library with Free Web Resources", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 366-367.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Nicholas Tomaiuolo's primary purpose in writing The Web Library was to show how individuals, and libraries, could take advantage of free or low‐cost resources to build personal online libraries. It was only possible to take a snapshot of the Web at a particular point in time, but in doing so, Tomaiuolo introduced the reader to a host of free, or nearly free, valuable information resources that not only save money, but could also be put to practical use.

The Web Library shows the reader where to look for electronic versions of items that could prove too expensive if the printed versions had to be bought. It is explained that many types of information, such as sensitive company information, newest best‐sellers, and periodical articles, will never be for free and users will still need to pay for it or visit their local library to access it.

The book is arranged into nine chapters providing examples, alternatives, and strategies for building a collection of free or low‐cost resources. Chapter 1 provides many starting points to information ranging from entertainment to conference and research papers. Be aware that the access policy or address of some of these sites discussed in The Web Library could have changed after going to press. One such example is All Academic (, which is now only available to annual subscribers. The address of the free Ask ERIC service has also changed but there is a new Web page to guide users to the new address.

Chapter 2 advises on how to remain on top of the news and be able to appreciate it from multiple perspectives. Chapter 3 discusses free reference works while chapter 4 introduces numerous “expert” and “AskA” sites that could help in answering a range of reference questions. Books in the Web lbrary, chapter 5, provides information on books that are available at various libraries, acquisition costs, as well as cataloguing, maintenance and circulation costs and information. Chapter 6 discusses strategies for locating images and digital image collections while chapter 7 helps put museum and exhibition goers into cyberspace galleries.

Chapter 8 is designed to help readers:

  • locate plug‐ins and helper applications to ensure readers are able to fully utilise all the sources in their Web libraries;

  • consider toolbars designed to maximise Web navigation; and

  • create a personal free Web page to be used as a portal to sites of a personal interest.

Chapter 9 discusses how to effectively use the Web and expand that personal online library. An appendix listing referenced web sites and a useful index concludes this very useful volume.

The Web Library is an exciting new book, which introduces readers to a great variety of free information resources. It is a readable and easy‐to‐use guide that not only teaches where to find useful resources, but also saves the user time and money while discovering a host of techniques for finding and collecting information for a personal online library.

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