Questions for Selectors for BEOnline+
In addition to ensuring that the content of online resources for which
the Library provides links from its OPAC or web pages meets the selection
criteria laid out in LC's Collections
Policy Statements, selectors need to mindful of some important
distinctions between print and Internet publishing. Foremost among
these disctinctions is the fact that most free resources on the web
have not gone through the traditional editorial review process associated
with print publications, a situation which may adversely affect both
the substance and the presentation of the information on the web site.
Further, the technologies used to create and mount the site may enhance
it, or alternatively obscure its content (or lack thereof), or impede
its accessibility by those having low-end machines, slow connections,
or text-only browsers. In addition, the ease with which resources
may be placed, modified, linked to, or removed on the Internet raises
issues of permanence, maintenance, and intellectual property rights
that may also need to be considered. The questions below are designed
to help selectors focus on some of these issues when evaluating a
resource for BEOnline Plus.
For sources of information on best practices for web site design, see Web Design References from the University of Minnesota and Usability.gov.
- Is access to the site free? If some parts of the site require
a fee, is there a substantial amount of free information available
on the site?
- Are there any restrictions on the use of the site stated that
would impact on selection of the site?
- Is the web site's server reliable, and generally available?
- Is the site "graphics" heavy?
- Does it take a long time for the site to load?
- If the site uses multimedia, including graphics, sound, video,
etc., do these elements enhance the site rather than being distracting?
- If plug-ins are required to use features of the site, are links
to sources for the plug-ins provided?
Could the site be used by those having low-end equipment or text-only
For example, is
there a link to a text-only page, or for .pdf files, a link to
Acrobat's accessibility page,
- If registration is required, does the need for registration
the information collected?
- Does the site make clear the individual or group responsible
for the resource(s) presented on the site?
Is this individual or group a recognized authority on the topic
of the site?
- Is there a copyright statement on the site?
- Does the producer of the web site have the legal right to put
this material on the web? If it appears that the web site producer
does not own the intellectual property rights for the material
presented, is there a statement that the material is posted with
permission and the source of the material given?
- If the site is maintained by an organization, particularly one
not widely known, does it include information about the history
and purpose of the organization?
- Does the site include contact information (including a postal
address and telephone number, as well as email address) so that
users may report problems, ask questions about or verify the information
presented on the site?
- Does the site include a statement about what is available on
- Is the site free from obvious biases in the information presented,
or if a particular view is advocated, is that focus made clear?
- Is the intended audience clear?
- Is the site "complete"?
Does the coverage seem appropriate for the stated coverage and
intended audience? Is much of the site still "under construction"?
- Does the quality and depth of the material presented on this
site compare favorably with that available from other print and
- Does the site make effective use of the web as a medium to enhance
the information presented?
- Is there a date on the page indicating when it was created or
- Is the site current? Is the frequency of updating suitable for
the subject covered?
- Does the site maintain an archive of earlier versions?
- Does it offer unique information, rather than primarily listing
links to other resources?
In the latter instance, care should be taken not to select multiple
resources each listing essentially the same links, if those resources
do not have additional value-added features.
- If the site includes a list of other Internet sites on the topic,
in a random check of some of those links, are the links current,
or do you get frequent "404" messages that the sites
cannot be found?
Last reviewed November 2010.
- Is the site free from errors in spelling and grammar?
- Does the site have a "search this site" or "site
- Does the site include a "help" feature?
- Does the site follow accepted design principles?