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Purdue Libraries' electronic services gain recognition

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The electronic virtues of Purdue University Libraries have been cited in a new book titled "The Seven Keys to Effective Web Sites."

Published in September by Prentice-Hall, the book touts Purdue's Virtual Reference Desk, an electronic site that contains pointers to an array of information.

"Although not intuitively easy to find, the Virtual Reference Desk is an amazing resource that is extremely easy to use and filled with an incredible set of resources," the book's co-authors, David Sachs and Henry H. Stair, wrote. "Provided by the Purdue University Libraries, this site should definitely be added to your set of hotlists or bookmarks. The Virtual Reference Desk . . . does a wonderful job of demonstrating both the power of the Internet and the World Wide Web and its collaborative nature."

Hotlists and bookmarks make it possible to look up specific Web sites quickly.

The URL for the Virtual Reference Desk is <http://thorplus.lib.purdue.edu/reference/>

As examples of the variety it provides, the Virtual Reference Desk points to such reference materials as worldwide phone books, international dictionaries for 11 different languages and weather maps. It gives access to international libraries such as those at Dublin City University and the National University of Singapore, and points to sites that grant opportunities for Purdue faculty and staff, at <http://thorplus.lib.purdue.edu:80/research/grants.html. Persons with properly configured computers can access short video clips, sound files and still pictures.

Through the Purdue Libraries, users anywhere also have electronic access to selected government data bases such as the Federal Register, Congressional Record, History of Bills and U.S. Code. Last year the libraries' Web site became the first to provide this link to the U.S. Government Printing Office, which oversees these data bases. This means users anywhere have quicker and more convenient access to the information by simply going through the Purdue Web site rather than physically having to visit a limited number of libraries nationwide with special terminals for this purpose.

"We provided this service in response to several faculty and staff who wanted to be able to look up the information more quickly," said Carl Snow, network access librarian and professor of library science.

Sachs is assistant dean of Pace University's School of Computer Science and Information Systems in New York. Stair is president of Mycroft Information LLC, New Canaan, Conn.

In addition, WebTV Networks Inc., Palo Alto, Calif., recently chose the Purdue Libraries Web site as one it would like to highlight for a new Internet service called WebTV Network. The service, available this fall, is touted by the firm as the first to bring Internet access and information services into the consumer's living room via television sets.

Because of the variety of information available, Purdue Libraries is used on-line by everyone from students and community teachers to the White House, said Emily Mobley, dean of libraries.

"Among the top 10 users of Purdue's electronic library are the Library of Congress and the Executive Offices of the President of the United States," she said. "We're continuing to provide new electronic access and data bases because people demand it."

Purdue Libraries also recently were recognized by the international management and technology consulting firm of Booz-Allen & Hamilton as one of the "industry innovators and visionaries that have made great strides to improve the information flow and utility of their respective organizations." During a review of the Library of Congress, the firm said Purdue Libraries are an example of a system that offers easy access to the Government Printing Office through computer access.

CONTACTS: Mobley, (765) 494-2900; home, (765) 497-2945; e-mail, mobley@sage.cc.purdue.edu

Snow, (765) 494-2764; e-mail, carl@smart.lib.purdue.edu

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