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November/December 2005 Library News

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Favorite Web Sites: General Reference

The web sites featured this month have been critically evaluated and selected by the IU Northwest librarians as well as a group of academic and public librarians across the United States who compile a yearly Best Free Reference Web Sites List  for the American Library Association. Here is a list of selection criteria initially created by the MARS Best Free Websites Task Force to choose these sites. The Library hopes our readers will find these web sites useful for locating reliable, accurate and authoritative information on the Internet. is a search engine that searches and cross-indexes online research tools. Its 100 plus resources include the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Merriam Webster's Dictionary, who2 and Wikipedia. displays the full result of your search on one page, unlike general search engines such as Google or Yahoo, which may produce many pages of results. The creators' goal is to "provide a topic based snapshot answer rather than thousands of pages that contain your word." can be a very useful resource for those looking for a fast succinct answer about a topic. (Summary used by permission of the MARS Best Free Websites Committee)

Wikipedia is a free, web-based encyclopedia edited by its readers. Each of its over one million articles may be edited, corrected, or updated by anyone in the world. Readers are encouraged to correct spelling, fix grammatical errors, check the accuracy of information, translate articles into one of over 150 languages available on the site, and update biographical information. The site's aim is to "create a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge." The obvious drawback to this site is the potential for erroneous information. The site's creators rely on the popularity of the Internet to help maintain the information's integrity. Wikipedia also provides current information available with news feeds from various news sources. (Summary used by permission of the MARS Best Free Websites Committee)

In addition to including searchable access to the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, this site features many other helpful resources for writers and students. The site is divided into several sections: Ask the Experts, World of Words, Better Writing, Games, Global English, and Foreign Languages. Each area has outstanding features, such as the wonderful "borrowings into English" in the Global English section. This section allows the user to click on a map and see what words from the chosen country have been adopted into the English language. Did you know that both "bug" and "flannel" are Welsh words? Other resources are just as enjoyable, interesting and practical. This site would be an exceptional teaching tool for upper-level high school English classes or lower level college students. (Summary used by permission of the MARS Best Free Websites Committee)

A revision of iTools' former Research-It! and FInd-It! pages brings together many useful online tools under six main headings. Search Tools provide links to search engines, subject directories and phone numbers or e-mail directories while Language Tools provide links to a variety of dictionaries, thesauri, and language translators. Research Tools link to such resources as encyclopedias, newspapers and magazines , and the Financial Tools provide currency converters. Map Tools provide links to driving directions and maps, and the Internet Tools allow the user to search networking, web and html sources. For resources in all six categories, you may either use the search interface provided by iTools or link directly to the source sites. (Summary used by permission of the MARS Best Free Websites Committee)

The Librarian's Index to the Internet describes itself as "a searchable, annotated subject directory of more than 7,900 Internet resources selected and evaluated by librarians for their usefulness to users..." The site features an extensive directory of 40 clickable subject topics ranging from arts to women. Users can also locate relevant web sites by using a detailed subject heading index or by using  the keyword search box. A keyword search groups the results into categories: e.g. "Best of...," "Directories," "Databases," and "Specific Resources." In addition, Librarian's Index to the Internet offers a free e-mail subscription to a current awareness service which features short annotations to the top 20 web resources added each week. This comprehensive online directory of critically evaluated web sites is an essential tool for any reference librarian. (Summary used by permission of the MARS Best Free Websites Committee)

Begun in 1995 with the mission of "indexing quality Internet sites and assisting visitors in navigating these sites," has won numerous web site awards and accolades from reference librarians as an essential reference tool. The Reference Resources and Facts Search sections provide links to a wide array of ready reference sources, from Acronym Finder to Zip+4 Code Lookup. Conveniently located links to Britannica, the Old Farmer's Almanac, Bartlett's Quotations and Roget's Thesaurus are available, to name just a few. Current News contains an impressive list of electronic journals, newspapers, and news services. Although the initial impression of the home page is that it is a little too densely packed with lists, it's still fairly easy to navigate by browsing the well organized categories on the home page or by using the well placed, user friendly search engine. (Summary used by permission of the MARS Best Free Websites Committee)

This web site offers a one-stop source for ready reference with material from the Information Please Almanac, the ESPN Information Please Sports Almanac and the A&E Entertainment Almanac as well as the Random House Webster's College Dictionary and The Columbia Encyclopedia. The main page is designed for quick access with both a search form and an index of hot links under ten broad topics. Other handy features include facts behind the news (e.g. the September 11th terrorist attack on America), today in history, a biography search and a well-placed keyword search engine that allows the user to search all or specific sections of the database.  (Revised summary used by permission of the MARS Best Free Websites Committee)

IU Northwest Library Installs a New Security System

After twenty five years, the Library's entrance has a new look. The turnstiles and gateway system have been removed and have been replaced with a brand-new, state-of-the-art entryway and security system. The new equipment installed by the Checkpoint Company features oak panels which match the decor of the nearby Circulation/Reserve area. The panels define "corridors" and allow library users to enter and exit the library much easier than the turnstile system. This new configuration is also much more accessible for people with disabilities.

Stop by soon and tell us what you think of the new renovations to the Library's entrance. It is hoped that these improvements will serve the library well for years to come.


, Library News Web Editor