By Billie Peterson, Baylor University
Dear Tech Talk--

My colleagues and I are involved in an ongoing discussion over evaluating Internet resources. Do we use "traditional" criteria for evaluating and adding them to a library's "virtual" collection, or is that inappropriate and impractical criteria for Internet resources?

--Criteria-Conscious Consumer

Dear CCC--

Recently a significant amount of information on this issue has appeared on the Internet and in a number of journals. In particular, readers with Web access might want to examine Nicole Auer's page, "Bibliography on Evaluating Internet Resources" and Alastair Smith's page at the WWW Virtual Library, "Evaluation of Information Sources,". This column will present some evaluation considerations which have been culled from a variety of Internet and journal resources.

Authority

Verifying the authority of a Web document is one of the most challenging and important aspects of evaluating Internet resources. In looking for authority, consider the following:

Scope/Content

Examining an Internet resource for scope and content is more straightforward. Consider:

Design

In evaluating design, both the aesthetic and functional aspects of how the resource is displayed should be considered.

Functionality

This area of evaluation focuses on the "Internet" characteristics of the site and includes the following issues:

Cost

The number of vendors now delivering information over the Internet to libraries is increasing almost exponentially Access to these resources via the Internet can be expensive; ultimately, an individual cost vs. benefit analysis should be included in any evaluation process for such resources.

Advantages

The resource has the potential of being available anywhere, anytime, any place, for any qualified patron; it can be platform (DOS, Macintosh, Windows) independent, especially if it uses a Web browser; the information provided is often updated more frequently; there may be less upkeep at the library's end.

Disadvantages

The search interface may lack sophistication; problems associated with providing assistance to remote users; there is less control over the system's availability since it's no longer maintained locally; there may be technical issues that have to be addressed/resolved at the library's end; Some questions to ponder when considering the addition of an Internet resource to a "virtual library" might be:

Additional Information

Alexander, Jan and Marsha Tate. "Teaching Critical Evaluation Skills for World Wide Web Resources." http://www.science.widener.edu/~withers/webeval.htm

Brandt, D. Scott. "Evaluating Information on the Internet." Computers in Libraries (May 1996): 44-46.

Ciolek, T. Matthew (maintainer). "WWW Virtual Library: Information Quality." http://coombs.anu.edu.au/WWWVL-InfoQuality.html

Collins, Boyd R. "Beyond Cruising: Reviewing." Library Journal (February 15, 1996): 122-124

Demas, Samual, Peter McDonald, and Gregory Lawrence. "The Internet and Collection Development: Mainstreaming Selection of Internet Resources." Library Resources and Technical Services (July 1995): 275-290.

Ertel, Monica. "Brave New World: What a Working Librarian Should Know about Living on the Internet." Searcher (March 1995): 28-30+.

Grassian, Esther. "Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources:" http://www.ucla.edu/campus/computing/bruinonline/trainers/ critical.html

Ryder, James and Tom Hughes. Internet for Educators. Upper Saddle River, J: Merrill, 1997. Chapter 3, "Internet Resources: Evaluating and Instructing", pages 85-122.

Kirk, Elizabeth. "Evaluating Information Found on the Internet." http://milton.mse.jhu.edu:8001/research/education/net.html

Makulowich, John. "Quality Control on the Net." Database (February 1996): 93-94.

Ormondroyd, Joan, Michael Engle, and Tony Cosgrave. "How to Critically Analyze Information Sources." http://urisref.library.cornell.edu/skill26.htm

Pratt, Gregory F., Patrick Flannery, and Cassandra Perkins. "Guidelines for Internet Resource Selection." College and Research Libraries News(March 1996): 135-136.

Rader, Hannelore, Billie Reinhart, and Gary Thompson. "University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Guide to Information Literacy." http://www.lib.utc.edu/info.html

Rettig, James. "Putting the Squeeze on the Information Firehose: The Need for 'Neteditors and 'Netreviewers." http://www.swem.wm.edu/firehose.html

Santa Vicca, Edmund F. "The Internet as a Reference and Research Tool: A Model for Educators." The Reference Librarian (no. 41-42 1994): 225-236.

Scholz, Ann. "Evaluating World Wide Web Information." http://thorplus.lib.purdue.edu/research/classes/gs175/3gs175/evaluation.html

Schrock, Kathy. "Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators." http://www.capecod.net/wixon/eval.htm

Smith, Alastair. "Criteria for Evaluation of Internet Information Resources." http://www.vuw.ac.nz/~agsmith/evaln/index.htm

Stepno, Bob and Bob Henshaw. "Quality of Information... and Disinformation Online." http://blake.oit.unc.edu/~rbstepno/disinfo.html

Tillman, Hope. "Evaluating Quality on the Net." http://www.tiac.net/users/hope/findqual.html

As always, send questions and comments to:


LIRT News, December 1996. Volume 19, number 2.
To report problems, please contact the LIRT News Production editor at ronan@ufl.edu

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