INSIDE Chico State
0 March 9, 2000
Volume 30 Number 15
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The Internet Is for Book Lovers

Jim Dwyer, librarian, book lover, and outlaw poet. (photo JL)
Jim Dwyer, librarian, book lover, and outlaw poet. (photo JL)

This is the first in a series of columns about the library and its resources by Jim Dwyer, Meriam Library.

Is the Internet destroying the "culture of reading," or can we use it to facilitate the creation of communities of readers and writers of all ages? The answer may be "both." It all depends on how we use it.

Just as printing did not destroy the oral tradition nor television eliminate radio, neither do TV and computers supplant print. Part of a librarian's job is to make the connections between people and ideas as contained and expressed in a variety of formats.

Indeed, one might argue that the Internet with its huge multiplicity of sources and opportunities for individualized study and actualization more closely resembles a library -- albeit a horribly disorganized one -- than it does television.

You can go on-line for book discussion groups or to correspond with authors or critics around the world, to revel in the delights of the literary Web sites, to enjoy digitized rare manuscripts and books that you would otherwise not have access to, or to order books. A virtual writing community has emerged on the Web wherein one can contribute works of literature, have one's work critiqued, or critique the work of others.

In a future article, we will briefly survey a wide variety of resources dedicated to literature, including discussion lists and writing groups, bookstores, and literary sites. Today I will discuss gateways.


A gateway provides initial access to and organization of a variety of resources. They may be little more than collections of links but may also contain additional information in order to serve as reader's advisories. Albee's Popular Fiction ( is an excellent example of a site designed for librarians and serious researchers. Links to many of the resources mentioned in this paper can be found there. It is genre oriented, and the extensive Fiction Finder contains over fifty "Useful Tools for Helping You Find a Good Book."

The BookBrowser ( provides fiction reading lists, book reviews, forthcoming titles, and information about authors.

The Avid Reader Book Ring ( is a group of over 200 book sites. Albee's Popular Fiction includes links to over forty such rings.

Some public libraries have created their own literature gateways. The County of Los Angeles Public Library provides a good Readers' Advisory Service page (http://www.colapublib. org/services/advisory/). Spokane Public Library has a kid's page ( including booklists linked to the on-line catalog, homework sites, and fun sites. The Morton Grove, Illinois Public Library ( features fourteen series of booklists selected by Fiction-L, an electronic discussion list for librarians and readers.

To find a superb secondary school gateway, I traveled electronically about a half mile to the Chico High Library pages (http://dewey.chs.chico. created by ace librarian and Web wizard Peter Milbury. A wide variety of useful literature and writing resources can be found in the English Studies, Research & Writing, and Foreign Languages sections. Multicultural literature is covered in American Indian, African American, Asian, and Latino links. One popular assignment was looking up a word in the dictionary of symbolism and then visiting the San Francisco Museum of Art site to learn more about it. That sure beats the library assignments from my own school "daze." My favorite lit gateway for college students, Jack Lynch's Literary Resources on the Web (http://andromeda. is also appropriate for senior high school use.


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