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Bicentennial Conference  on 
        Bibliographic Control for the New Millenium: Confronting the Challenges of Networked 
        Resources and the Web
sponsored by the Library of Congress Cataloging Directorate
Topical Discussion Group 1:
Choosing Electronic Resources:
What Is a Valuable Web Resource?

Discussion Facilitator:
Olivia Madison
Iowa State University Library
302 Parks Library
Ames, IA 50011-2140

The Conference topical discussion groups are for the purpose of identifying recommendations made by the speakers and commentators in their presentations and for developing recommended actions and an overall action plan for discussion and approval by the Conference in its concluding plenary session. Each topical discussion group consists of a facilitator who, with a designated number of participants, is assigned a specific topic related to the presentations that will serve as the focal point for identifying recommendations and deriving recommended actions and an overall action plan. Each group will also have an LC staff member to take notes and capture highlights throughout the discussion.


Academic and research libraries agree on the need to select valuable scholarly and educational Web resources for description. In the first session of the Conference on the topic "The Library Catalog and the Web," Sarah Thomas referred to library catalogs as providing users with a degree of "trusted selectivity." Later, in the third session on "Future Directions," Ann Huthwaite discussed the need for library collection development policies to include criteria for the identification of Internet resources of "continuing value." Which prompts the question: What is a valuable Web resource? Given the proliferation of all kinds of electronic and networked resources, great care needs to be exercised in the selection of those materials for which any type of bibliographic access will be provided. Typically, collection development policies for print materials are elaborated to apply to electronic resources. Similarly, collecting levels for print materials are often applied in determining digital collecting levels.


In this assignment, we take a different approach, and ask you to develop a prioritized list of 4-6 recommended selection criteria that academic, research, and national libraries could apply specifically in choosing worthwhile as well as so-called valuable Web resources for description. Such criteria would be a useful adjunct to local collection development policies, as well as a potential tool for collaborative collection activities among these libraries. They could also help strengthen the tie between catalogers, who do not traditionally select materials, and public services staff including recommending/selecting officers.


Your topical discussion group is organized into two parts to cover the two Conference days in which you meet.

  1. The first meeting is in the afternoon of Day 2 of the Conference. The objective of this meeting is to have you brainstorm your topic by sharing your thoughts and ideas in an informal discussion. Your facilitator will serve to direct the discussion and to keep it focused and moving. An LC staff member will be present to record major points of discussion.

    Follow the lead of your facilitator in determining the format of the discussion. Then start by identifying any suggestions or recommendations offered by the speakers, commentators, and participants on your topic. Which or what criteria--general or specific, if any--were mentioned or discussed in the plenary sessions? Was there any elaboration on what are considered to be "valuable" or worthwhile electronic resources to describe? Next, move to discuss possible selection criteria that would identify such material. Consider any work or management experience you may have had in providing such guidance at your institution. By close of the meeting, you should have an extended list of selection criteria for review on the following Day 3 of the Conference.

  2. The second meeting begins in the morning of Day 3 with the facilitator and LC recorder present. Time spent at this meeting is focused on reviewing the list of selection criteria drafted in the first meeting and extracting from it a set of 4-6 recommended criteria arranged in priority order. In the course of determining this set, consider the following questions:

    1. Could you apply the criteria to-

      1. finite (monographic) and continuing (serial) Web resources?

      2. specific documents as well as integrating resources (e.g., Web pages)?

      3. general and special subject disciplines?

    2. Do the criteria take in the research value, use, and access to the resource by addressing--

      1. the purpose, coverage, and currency of the Web resource; their completeness and accuracy?

      2. the producers/authors of the resource?

      3. when the resource was produced, mounted, and revised?

      4. whether there are links; if appropriate and reliable?


Once you have finalized the prioritized list of criteria, the LC recorder will input it to a computer and a Powerpoint presentation will be created for your facilitator to present to conferees.

Presentation and Action Plan:

Your facilitator will present the prioritized list of selection criteria for discussion and approval in the closing session of the Conference. Conferees will use this list along with the prioritized recommendations presented by the facilitators of the other topical discussion groups to develop an overall action plan that the Library of Congress can carry forward from the Conference.

Library of Congress
October 22, 2000
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