Librarian at Large
Responding to Change
Dwyer, Library (photo JL)
Modern libraries are rapidly evolving institutions that combine the
best of traditional print collections and new electronic resources. The
purpose of this column is to enhance your use of libraries for both research
The Internet Is for Book Lovers Part II
The Internet provides a wide and ever-growing selection of sites dedicated
to literature and reading. Part I of this series looked at gateways. Part
II explores discussion lists and writing groups, on-line bookstores, and
There are literally hundreds of literature discussion groups. Some are dedicated
to the work of established authors, but others provide the opportunity to
have your own work critiqued and published. For a useful listing of such
groups, see Discussion Resources at http://alabanza.com/kabacoff/Inter-Links/talk.html.
Discussion Lists and Writing
The largest and oldest on-line writing group may be The National Writing
a federal program founded in 1973. The NWP is "a national network of university-based
teacher training programs designed to improve the teaching of writing
in America's [K-12] classrooms" (http://www.philaedfund.org/websites.html).
I particularly liked the links to places where kids and young adults can
publish their work (http://www.philaedfund.org/wedweb/html/stpublish.html).
is a good starting point for authors, publishers, agents, and readers
to find useful resources, attend on-line and in-person workshops and conferences,
or become part of a writing community. Inkspot (http://inkspot.com/)
is also worth a look. It includes a good section for young writers.
Although amazon.com and Barnes and Noble may be the best known on-line
bookstores, there are literally hundreds. They often contain not just
search engines and ordering mechanisms, but reviews from journals and
individual readers, best seller lists, and links to other books you may
like based on what you searched. BookBrowse (http://www.bookbrowse.com/)
-- not to be confused with BookBrowser -- features author biographies
and excerpts. Many general shopping sites also sell books.
To get recommendations from other readers, you might want to consider
subscribing to NoveList, (http://novelist.epnet.com/).
You can select a reading level and then match by author, title, plot,
or subject heading. It includes over 1,000 theme-oriented booklists and
links to fiction Web sites. NoveList will be added to the library ReSEARCH
Station this fall through the auspices of the Library of California.
is a new service that assigns ratings and recommendations for books, music,
and movies. Quoting from their Web site: "This system actually predicts
how well you will like something based on your ratings of all items. The
more items you rate, the better our system works for YOU."
There are many specialized stores such as the Antiquarian Booksellers'
Association of America (http://188.8.131.52/)
for out-of-print books. Other services such as AddALL (http://www.addall.com/)
and DealPilot (http://www.dealpilot.com/)
compare prices from a wide variety of on-line shops. The Book Spot includes
a good children's section (http://www.bookspot.com/booksforchildren.htm).
Children's bookstores can also be found at Chance Books, (http://www.c2cs.com/ChanceBooks/cbooks.html).
For more information on the book trade see BookWire (http://www.bookwire.com/).
But won't shopping on-line destroy the small press and local bookstores?
You wouldn't think that if you use LitLine (http://www.litline.org/litline.html),
with its links to small presses, independent journals, and literary and
alternative press organizations. Let me suggest an appropriate subversive
activity: search on-line, but go to your local independent bookstore to
buy. It's faster, often cheaper without shipping charges, more fun, involves
real human interaction, and supports your local economy.
Perhaps the oldest (1971) and one of the most ambitious literary sites
is Project Gutenburg (http://promo.net/pg/),
an attempt to provide digital texts of the world's great books. For a
more select group of e-texts (over 600 titles by 130 authors), see The
Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/alex/).
Alex is limited to English and American literature and Western philosophy.
It allows you to search by subject and theme within and among texts and
to customize fonts and font size for output. The Concordances of Great
is an on-line searchable index of over 200 texts by 86 authors. It isn't
the most user-friendly tool out there, but is still quite useful. (For
example, one must remember that there was a hyphen in "tee-hee" to find
the rollicking Miller's Wife's famous quote "Tee-hee quod she.") If you're
a lover of Scrabble or other word games, you simply must see the Concordance's
"Unscrambler," which will find all the "legal" words from any combination
of up to sixteen letters.
If you're looking for women's literature and feminist studies, Jack
Lynch's Literary Resources on the Web features a strong selection of feminist
For an example of a good site dedicated to a single author, see Mr.
William Shakespeare and the Internet (http://daphne.palomar.edu/shakespeare/).
If you need more than Shakespeare to "try the conscience of the king,"
McCoy's Guide to Theatre and Performance Studies (http://www.stetson.edu/departments/csata/thr_guid.html)
just might do the trick.
Perhaps you enjoy hearing recordings or viewing videos of authors reading
their work. The number of literary media sites seems to be growing by
the day. A good place to start is Wired for Books (http://www.tcom.ohiou.edu/books/).
Future columns will cover poetry sites, the Library of California, and
electronic archive and historic photograph projects. Please contact me
at firstname.lastname@example.org if you
have any questions or suggestions.
-- Jim Dwyer, Library Collection Managemen