ACRL

College & Research Libraries News

Internet Reviews

Sara Amato, editor

Sara Amato is electronic services and Web development librarian at Bowdoin College, e-mail: samato@bowdoin.edu

ADAM: Access:http://adam.ac.uk.

ADAM—the Alt, Design, Architecture and Media information gateway—is a catalog of Internet resources that is being created by a team of professional librarians for the higher education community in the United Kingdom.

ADAM focuses on Internet sites that match a specific set of criteria developed by the team and published on the Web site. The team catalogs quality sites that are kept upto-date and considered authoritative, accurate, and within the scope of the subjects covered within the catalog. The subject areas included are applied arts, architecture, design, fine art, media, museum studies and conservation, theory, and professional practices related to the subject areas.

As this is a selective catalog, at the time of the review, the catalog only contained slightly more than 1,700 items. However, the gateway is being added to continuously and in the period of one week, more than 80 additional items had been added.

The ADAM Web site and the search engine for the site use Dublin Core metadata to enhance searching. Searching the catalog can be done in a simple mode or through the “Power Search,” which supports advanced searching including truncation, boolean, phrase searching, and the ability to limit to individual fields.

In doing some sample searches on individual artists and architects, the results were fairly limited, but in comparison with doing a search on the Internet, they are much more focused and the results are well suited for research purposes.

My first attempt to search “Gainsborough” resulted in no hits, which was a surprise based on the source of the indexing, but the results vary by artist. A keyword search for “Mary Cassatt” and “Renoir” each resulted in only one record; however, a search for “Frank Lloyd Wright” retrieved a much more varied list of 15 resources.

As each record does include a list of subject headings, when results are few, one can expand a search. Thus choosing to search by “impressionist" allows one to retrieve related artists as well as sites that have a broader focus than any single individual artist.

When a search does result in no items being found, ADAM provides a link to an additional search engine—“Mamma”—which searches some of the major search engines (Alta Vista, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, Webcrawler and Yahoo!) simultaneously on the Internet. Thus while only one site was found in ADAM on “Mary Cassatt,” “Mamma” retrieved 64 Web sites.

Entries are fully searchable within the catalog on ADAM and provide a complete description for each Web site, a list subject terms (including Dewey Decimal call numbers), the URI, and a unique identifier called “ROAD,” which is based on the software used to develop the gateway.

Time periods are included within the subject field and this is one of the special features that enhances searching. The “Option Search” feature provides the ability to search within the title, subject fields or descriptors, and allows one to do a more precise search.

One annoying feature is the “view full ADAM record” link as part of the record, which if selected reveals a blank page.

Nevertheless, the project itself, one of several that is currently underway to provide gateways to selected quality resources on the Web by topical areas, is a good starting point for research in the arts fields. This is a respectable site to locate examples of art works with high-quality graphic images as well as authoritative information on individual subjects and can only improve as the project expands and the team continues to add to the database.— Teresa Fishel, Macalester College; fishel@macalester.edu

Google! Search Engine. Access: http:// www.google.com.

Chances are that you have never heard of the Google! search engine. It is not a major player in the Web search engine game, and most of its promotion has had to rely on word of mouth. Too bad, because Google! offers powerful searching features, a streamline design, and ease of use that make it a valuable research tool.

At first glance, its simple user interface can be misleading. What goes on behind the scenes of this search engine is actually quite sophisticated. Google! is the outcome of three years of research in Web searching at the Stanford University Computer Science Department by its founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Each search looks at “over a billion hyperlinks” on the Web to see who is pointing to whom, with the idea that important Web pages point to other important Web pages. The real beauty of Google! though, for librarians who teach users how to search the Web, is in its front-end design and searching features.

The first thing you will notice about Google! is what’s not there. No clutter. Unlike Infoseek, Excite, LYCOS, and some of the other major portals, this search engine is lean and clean. There are no unwanted advertisements, teasers, or distracting links, just a simple box for your search query, a couple of buttons, and an option to learn more about Google! and what it can do. That’s it.

Like many online library catalogs and periodical indexes, Google! assumes AND between search terms instead of OR. In most other Web search engines, it’s the other way around. Google! ignores common words (stopwords) such as “the” and “of,” and it does not stem words. If you are searching for colon cancer, you will not retrieve pages dealing with colonies or colonels with cancer, that is, unless they in fact mention colon cancer. Google! is not perfect. It does not offer truncation or true Boolean searching, but it does offer some other nice search features.

Just like with any new search engine, you should always read the help screens before diving in. Google! uses some of the same searching techniques you have come to know when using the advanced search modes in AltaVista, LYCOS, and others. Operators such as the double quotation marks (“ “) that allow you to search for bound phrases, and the plus sign (“+”) and minus sign (“-”) that allow you to require and prohibit terms are all here. There is no “advanced search” mode with Google! The single search mode recognizes all of these operators.

Something unique to Google! is the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. Clicking this automatically takes you to the first Web page returned for your query. Some students and librarians I know swear by it. The librarian and purveyor of critical thinking in me makes me suspect. You be the judge.

Search engines are getting better. Increasingly, students and other library users want to know how to perform exact Web searches, rather than sift through a thousand or so Web pages. Search engines like Google! present an alternative to the major commercial portals that cater to less selective users who search the Internet primarily for recreation. Googleí’s focus on the searcher and no-nonsense design make it a useful instructional tool for librarians. —Bryan Sinclair, University of North Carolina at Asheville; sinclair@bulldog.unca.edu

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