ABSTRACT: With the advent of the information age, the exploitation of Internet resources has been on the agenda of university libraries. There are, however, many different opinions as to the criteria of selecting Internet resources. This article introduces the experience of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Library on selecting Internet resources, analyzes the Internet resources available on the Library webpage and summarizes the main criteria of selecting Internet resources at the HKUST Library. Key words: Internet resource; digital document; information evaluation; library work
Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe proposed seven standards for the selection and appraisal of Internet resources: format, content, relation with other information, authority, suitable audience, arrangement, and price.
Dong Xiaoying, a scholar in China, advocated nine standards:
For libraries, when selecting Internet resources, they should not only take into account the serviceability and relevance of those resources to the library goals and missions, but also cost, technology, and compatibility to existent information resources.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Library has gained some valuable experience in the selection of Internet resources, and attained primary achievement.
In May 1995, the HKUST Library established an "Internet resources selecting group". This group consisted of staff from the collection development department, the media department, the cataloging department, the reference department, etc. It was charged to select free Internet resources, formulate corresponding rules and procedures, and corporate with the "Internet resources cataloguing group".
In general, all members of the Internet resources selecting group were engaged in selecting and appraising Internet resources. Different member might use different Internet tools, such as news tools (Scout Report, Internet Resources Newsletter, etc), subject and directory tools (Argus, Point, World Wide Web Virtual Library, Yahoo!), and/or retrieval tools (Alta Vista, Open Text Index, etc). The relevant information about selected resources like titles and URL addresses was shared via email to all members. One member was responsible for maintaining and updating the webpage which connected to all previous resources and current ones through hyperlinks. Other members needed to visit the page to check whether a specific resource is under consideration, already chosen or rejected. In other words, the initial appraisal of Internet resources was conducted individually by each member. When this kind of resources accumulates to certain point, the group members would meet to discuss and choose from those resources, and then add selected ones to the network server. The selected resources would be recommended to library users through various media like the library monthly news, reference consultation, or introductive sessions.
The criteria used in the selecting process by the "Internet resources selecting group" include:
The ultimate objectives of the "Internet resources selecting group" are:
During my study period at HKUST as an exchange student in 2004, I reviewed the HKUST Library’s "Internet Resource" webpage. Judging by the criteria and objectives of the "Internet resources selecting group", the HKUST Library obtained remarkable achievements. The presentation and organization of Internet resources demonstrated a primary structure. The following analysis and description of the functions of the Library "Internet resource" webpage are to attest HKUST Library’s criteria for selecting Internet resources.
The HKUTS Library’s "Internet Resources" webpage is prominently on the Library’s homepage. The main function of the "Internet Resources" page is to provide Internet resources for the use of teachers and students. This page provides four ways for users to access information:
2.6 Scholarly Communication It includes a variety of academic databases linking to journals, conferences and publications, with a total number of 13.
2.7 Table of Contents Databases It includes 8 journal and article index databases of mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan. For instance, National Library of China’s Journal Table of Contents Database in western languages, and Hong Kong index of Chinese periodicals.
This page provides 13 reference resources. The subcategories are as follows: biographies (with 23 links), dictionaries (with 33 links), directories (with 21 links), Internet tools (with 15 links), maps (with 12 links), yearbooks (with 21 links), writing guides (with 15 links), and quotations (with 10 links).
2.10 News on the Internet. This page provides 4 links to news websites. The subcategories are classified by region. To be specific, Asia with 68 links, Europe with 9 links, North America with 16 links, other areas with 10 links, and worldwide sites with 12 links.
2.11 Online Bookstores. This page provides 14 links to bookstore websites, such as Amazon.com and San Lian Bookstore.
2.12 E-books and E-texts. This page includes 22 databases, sites of publishing houses or other sites, all providing free e-books for reading.
2.13 Other Interesting Sites It provides 23 links, mainly about the general knowledge or facts, for instance, Guinness World Record and introductive sites of world organizations.
2.14 Web Directories and Search Engines. It provides links to 13 Chinese or English search engines, 9 in English and 4 in Chinese. The 4 Chinese search engines are: TianWang, sohu, Sina and Yahoo China.
|Business and Management||Engineering||Humanities and Social Sciences||Science||Asia||Reference||News on Internet|
Table Two: The Quantity of Internet Resources Provided by Categories of Different Forms
|Other Library Catalogs||Scholarly Communicat-|
|Table of Contents Databases||Online Bookstores||E-books and E-texts||Other Interesting Sites||Web Directories and Search Engines|
There are two other ways to access information:
In practice, the HKUST Library selects Internet resources based on the following criteria:
Match with university organization and courses.
The categories of business and management, engineering, science, humanities and social sciences match with the four schools of HKUST: Business and Management School, Engineering School, Science School, and Humanity School. Similarly, the setting of subcategories matches with departments in the four schools. As a result, it is easy for teachers and students to search for information resources within their disciplines.
Emphasize on Business and Management, and Engineering.
The MBA program of HKUST ranks number one in Asia. Its Engineering School is also among the best. To reflect the importance of these two disciplines at HKUST, the Library gives the corresponding two categories the most prominent positions on the webpage. In addition, one of the two sites recommended on the featured sites is usually a business site, which shows special emphasis on business and management. Moreover, the two categories offer links both to comprehensive websites and to subcategories. In other words, they provide information resources on two levels—not only single resource websites, but also navigational websites which contain many links to other information. As for the absolute quantity, the category of Humanities and Social Sciences contains 306 information sources, which is the most among all categories. However this category only provides subcategories, but not links to related categories or comprehensive websites. In this sense, the level of processing is far lower than that of the previous two categories.
Base in East Asia.
The Hong Kong academic community always puts emphasis on China research, especially the ancient Chinese literature research. One of 14 categories is Asia, including 234 information sources, merely less than those provided by Humanities and Social Sciences. Among all information resources in Asia, the greater China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan) accounts for 94% of all subcategories.
Open to the outside world.
Hong Kong is an international metropolis, where the Chinese culture and foreign cultures merge. Both English and Chinese are official languages. And English is used widely in daily life. The characteristics of an open culture often manifests here. Each category of Internet resources contains both Chinese and English. The ratio of Chinese sites and overseas ones is approximately 1:2 in the categories of online bookstores and Web Directories and Search Engines. Altogether, of the over 1,360 sites, there are more than 210 Chinese sites. The ratio between Chinese and overseas sites is approximately 1:6.
Provide comprehensive contents in diverse formats.
The contents cover almost all human knowledge. The formats of Internet resources include e-books, periodicals, articles, meeting minutes, news, etc.
Prompt in maintenance and update.
The column "what’s new" lists the most recently added Internet resources. During the time I was writing this article, the newest sites added from March 22 to April 13, 2004 were as many as 33. Moreover, no dead hyperlinks were found, which shows a satisfactory maintenance work.
The HKUST Library’s experience of selecting Internet resources has attained obvious achievements, mainly due to the Library’s criteria of matching Internet resources with university organizations and reflecting Hong Kong's cultural characteristics. The success at the HKUST Library could be replicated at other university libraries. When selecting Internet resources, academic libraries should endeavor to support the teaching and research programs of their universities. They should also take into consideration their existing collections, technology requirement, costs, and other factors. As for organizing Internet resources, university libraries should strive to provide library users with easy and efficient ways to search for relevant information.
 Chen, Zhaozhen. "The Development and Maintenance of Library Collection in Academic Digital Library". The University Library (Taiwan), 1997, 1 (1):24-26.
 Dong, Xiaoying. The Management of Information Resource under Internet Environment. Doctoral dissertation of Beijing University, 1997.
 Gregory, Vicki L. Selecting and Managing Electronic Resources: a how-to-do-it manual for librarians. Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2000. pp.21-23.
 Yip, Kim Fung. "Selecting Internet Resources: experience at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Library". The Electronic Library, 1997, 15(2):91-98
 HKUST Business School: Ranking and Key Events. URL: http://www.bm.ust.hk/school/key.html