Portals to the World

With the explosion of the Internet and the subsequent attempt by search engines to control the chaotic morass of information, librarians have stepped into the fray by producing aggregations of web sites. Librarians at the Library of Congress have gone a step further by selecting specific sites, annotating their selections, arranging them geographically under a series of topics of interest, and then recommending specific sites for full cataloging, all under the rubric of Portals to the World.

While LC seeks to provide "one-stop shopping for international information needs," people have characterized the effort as an "authoritative listing" providing a research tool for the student or for the advanced researcher without being subjected to enormous quantities of chaff.

Located on the International Horizons' portion of the LC site, Portals to the World provide links to summarized Web sites arranged in as many as 21 pathfinders per country leading the patron to a manageable summary of the more useful sites found on the World Wide Web.

Granted, the site may be in a language other than English. It may also provide a different view of the world as seen through the eyes of others. What an opportunity for students to appreciate the multilingual opportunities of the Web! Given the fact that the majority of users of the Web speak a language other than English, the Portals provide an easy way to see that the foreign language opportunities of the Web increases as the world shrinks.

Annotations in English provide an opportunity for monolingual students throughout the United States to grasp the fact that foreign language use in one' s own field may be a benefit, stimulating them to further study. On the other hand, the English language annotations and subject arrangement afford a unifying arrangement that allows the English speaking researcher to quickly scan for necessary information regardless of the language of the information.

The BEAT program has allowed LC to catalog, not only its Portals, but also noteworthy World Wide Web sites which may be searched through LC's online public catalog.

Additional information regarding Portlas to the World is available at http://www.loc.gov/rr/international/portals.html

Library of Congress
Library of Congress Help Desk (12/09/02)