The Library and Information Professional’s Guide to the World Wide Web

Karyn Meaden (Network Information Specialist, Cranfield University Information and Library Service)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




Meaden, K. (2000), "The Library and Information Professional’s Guide to the World Wide Web", New Library World, Vol. 101 No. 3, pp. 141-143.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Produced as a companion to The Library and Information Professional’s Guide to the Internet by Poulter, Tseng and Hiom, this text focuses solely on World Wide Web technology and its application for information and library work.

The title does not offer a clear description of its content, but rather than considering browser software, search tips or useful subject resources available through the medium, the text is actually aimed at those who wish to learn how to use the World Wide Web to structure and publish information.

It is divided into four very distinct sections – an introduction to the fundamental concepts of the WWW, applications of the WWW in libraries across all sectors, recent technological developments, and a resource guide – and these are all well‐structured to enable easy browsing.

The preface states that the text “assumes no prior knowledge of the World Wide Web, but does assume a basic knowledge of the Internet”. The introductory chapter begins with an explanation of the former, and describes the underlying terminology and technology. However, by the end of the chapter, after subjects such as Web page creation, publishing models, setting up servers, and interfacing a WWW front‐end with an existing back‐end system, a determined beginner would have experienced a very sharp and daunting learning curve.

This comprehensiveness, however, demonstrates the very nature of the text, which is essentially to provide an overview of the WWW environment and the technologies available. It acts as a means of increasing the users’ awareness of the potential uses of the WWW for publishing, and a full complement of sectors are discussed to maximise its readership. Theoretical rather than operational, the text offers no indication of how the facilities it discusses can be achieved.

The resource guide which embodies the fourth chapter is invaluable, as it provides the link between the descriptive possibilities and their practical creation. Encompassing citations of software, manuals, specifications and reference materials, it provides procedural introductions and further information on subjects mentioned in the text.

Owing to the continual cross‐referencing between sections and chapters, and also to other materials, the text would be best consulted with a specific information need in mind. Its strength lies in its ability to pull together the general concepts within WWW publishing, but it is reliant on the supplementary reading materials contained in the resource guide in order to fill the operational “gap”. A minor area for concern is that in its attempts to create a broad overview, significant innovations are not emphasised enough. For example, Dublin Core is only mentioned in passing and users unfamiliar with the WWW may not recognise its importance.

The guide benefits from its focus on a very narrow, well‐defined user group which ensures that the content and language is pitched at an appropriate level, and it is absolutely relevant to the profession owing to the subject tailoring. In particular, the second chapter relating to WWW applications in libraries is excellent, discussing useful facilities and structures for enhancing Web sites. This also examines means of adapting Web site content dependent on purpose, including promotion, information, feedback, and training, and incorporates a range of sectoral perspectives.

The guide does provide an excellent overview of the possibilities available to library and information professionals who wish to get involved in Web publishing. The multitude of strands are coherently combined in one package, and the complexity of the subject is dealt with effectively. However, comprehensiveness is produced at the expense of operational procedure, and it tends to provoke more questions than it answers. The text cannot be read in isolation, acting more as a springboard to increasing knowledge and understanding, but it is a challenging tool for becoming aware of the possibilities!

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